LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Rams are finally good and exciting again. And the guess here is that a lot of you have probably typed "rams.com" in your search bar for the first time in recent weeks, which means you were probably surprised by what came up -- a site about rams.
Not the Rams. Rams. The male sheep -- the bighorn sheep, specifically -- with those distinctive curved horns. And it is a pretty thorough website, too. There's a helpful "About The RAMS" section (they recently migrated 1,800 miles west) and others that explored ram threats (probably Falcons, Panthers and Seahawks), ram behavior (suddenly assertive after years of acquiescence) and ram types, with surprisingly no mention of Todd Gurley or Aaron Donald or Jared Goff.
This is all the handiwork of a Toronto-based web designer named Adam Dicker, an alleged animal enthusiast and -- he swears -- not a squatter. Dicker says he spends a lot of his free time watching the television channel Animal Planet. It relaxes him. If an animal strikes a certain chord on a particular day, he'll check for the domain. If it's available at a reasonable price, he'll buy it. And then he'll take the time to put together a website that houses useful, easy-to-find information about it.
"I love animals, and that's about it," Dicker said in a phone conversation. "That's my motivation for buying it."
Dicker owns, or has owned, several other similar sites. Such as elephants.com, pigs.com, seals.com, giraffes.com, hyenas.com and even worms.com. At one point, he estimates to have possessed about 20 animal sites.
"And you can see by that pattern, none of them represent sports teams," Dicker noted. "There's no worm, there's no pig, there's no elephant. Surprisingly enough, there's no giraffe. You'd think there'd be a basketball team called the Giraffes."
But there is a football team called the Rams, which, yes, Dicker is aware of. He's a Dallas Cowboys fan. But he knows the Rams are good (11-4), and he probably knows they just became NFC West champions for the first time since 2003. Dicker started rams.com nearly a decade ago, long before the football franchise got it together again.
"Honestly, I think they just look powerful," Dicker said when asked to identify his favorite characteristics about the animal. "You look at a ram with the horns and they look intimidating and they look powerful. They show dominance."
Well, perhaps only if Sean McVay is nearby.
The Rams are far from the only NFL team that doesn't own its domain. In fact, you will reach the team-specific site by typing the mascot in a search bar for only 18 out of 32 teams. Jets.com is a site about the aircraft, and Eagles.com belongs to the rock band. Bills.com is a site about finances -- which, come to think of it, makes perfect sense -- and Bears.com is a site with a picture of the Disneynature documentary entitled "Bears." Nothing else. (Wonder if Dicker has seen it.)
"Honestly, I think they just look powerful. You look at a ram with the horns and they look intimidating and they look powerful. They show dominance." Adam Dicker, Toronto-based web designer who owns rams.com
The Rams, who would not comment for this story, spoke to Dicker about purchasing the rams.com domain right around the time they moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles early in the 2016 calendar year. But the two sides were far apart. How far? Dicker's initial asking price was $1 million, and the Rams countered with something in the neighborhood of $2,500, a source said. The sides haven't really been in touch since. Now the site is close to being sold to a company outside of North America for something in the "low to mid-six" figures, according to Jason Ramsay, who handles the potential sale of Dicker's websites.
"But at this point," Ramsay said, "the owner is quite happy with his animal site."
Yes, the man who brokers Dicker's sites has "Rams" in his last name.
The mascot for Ramsay's son's high school team?
Ramsay wouldn't provide specifics on previous sale prices for Dicker's sites or current web traffic for rams.com, citing nondisclosure agreements. But he did say spikes are "considerable" when games are approaching or when there's major news related to the team. Those traffic numbers are dwarfed significantly by the team's official site, but the going rate for domains like these is still high.
Back in 2007, the Cowboys refused to pay their winning bid of $275,000 because of an embarrassing miscommunication -- the bidder thought "275" meant they were buying the domain for 275 dollars. Eventually the site reportedly sold for $370,000, but it's now basically a placeholder. The Texas Rangers reportedly paid $375,000 for their domain in 2015, giving Major League Baseball ownership of 27 of 30 at the time.
On his LinkedIn page, Dicker identifies himself as CEO of Digital Intelligence Inc., stating that he registered his first domain name in 1996 and is "one of a small group of individuals to sell a domain name for seven figures."
Dicker stressed that his motivation is never to sell his animal sites, though sometimes the offers become high enough that he has little choice but to oblige. His initial intent, he claims, is always to "put up good information about the animal that people can't find anywhere else; that provides information for projects and things like that."
He was told people might be cynical about that.
"Honestly, I don't really worry about what people think because I'm not looking to put up a site to impress individuals or companies," Dicker said. "I'm picking it up for the benefit of the animal. That's just how I feel. I don't care if anybody buys the site. Yes, there are people that are interested. Yes, probably around football time, interest goes up. I probably get Rams fans emailing me and asking me if I would sell it to them for a few thousand dollars or whatever. But I have no interest in that."