St. Louis Rams react to news about Stedman Bailey

The St. Louis Rams were back at work on Wednesday, just hours after learning that one of their teammates had been shot in Florida.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams returned to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon just hours after learning that their teammate, wide receiver Stedman Bailey, had been shot in Florida. 

“I informed the team, I told his teammates as much as I knew,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said at the conclusion of practice. “Things have changed ever so slightly since our meeting. I can report now that Sted is in ICU, he had extensive surgery. The surgery probably took four to six hours, from what my understanding is, and he’s in stable condition right now. 

“So we’re just waiting to get more information on the specifics of the injury. There’s a lot out there, there’s a lot of rumors that there were two or three shots and an injury to the hip. I don’t have specifics right now, but I can tell you he’s in stable condition and he’ll be in ICU for a number of days. It’s really unlikely, highly unlikely, that he returns to play this year.”

The news was stunning to the Rams and the rest of the NFL.

Bailey, 25, was back in the Miami area, where he grew up, while he served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. According to media reports, Bailey was shot twice in the head while in a vehicle with other several other people.

The Rams released a statement early Wednesday morning that they were aware that Bailey was involved in an incident, had spoken with him and learned that he was in the hospital in critical, but stable, condition. 

The next update from the team came from Fisher after practice. 

“Whether you’re a coach or you’re a father or you’re a family member, anytime something like that happens, it’s very, very difficult,” Fisher said. “The one thing that gave us hope last night was that we were able to get in touch with Sted at the hospital and there was a conversation that took place. So, that gave us hope that he would pull through this and this was not life-threatening. That’s kind of what gave us hope through the evening.”

Rams defensive end William Hayes said he was sleeping when he got the news about Bailey in a text message. He woke up and called Fisher to ask him if it was true. 

He said he probably only slept two or three hours on Tuesday night. Part of it was not knowing what would happen to Bailey, Hayes said, but the other part was knowing that something did happen. 

“That’s basically our brother,” Hayes said. “Only thing we can do is just pray for him and just stay strong for him. We spend a lot of time with each other, so I look at him as a brother. I tell him, Tavon (Austin), everybody in here I love them every day before I go home. It’s just the reality of life.”

Chris Long said when he first heard, he hoped it was just a rumor.

“You hear crazy stuff all the time on the internet, but pretty soon after that rumor started everybody started texting each other and everybody genuinely cares about Stedman,” the Rams defensive end said. “He is a great dude, he’s a great teammate and we’re just praying for him. At the end of the day, that’s stuff way bigger than football. This is the health of a teammate, this is the livelihood of a teammate. You just pray that he’ll get through it and come out of it on the other end even better.”

Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said he found out on Wednesday morning when he woke up. 

“First thoughts were just surprised, hoping that he was all right, hoping that he was going to make it and everything sounds like surgery went well today,” he said. “Hopefully he makes a full recovery. Just the first instinct was to pray for him, pray for the doctors that his surgery is successful and really that he would heal fast."

The Ram (4-6) travel to play the Cincinnati Bengals (8-2) this Sunday. So despite the circumstances of Bailey's situation, they still had to go out and practice on Wednesday to prepare for the upcoming game. 

“Sted would want us to come out here and practice hard," Laurinaitis said. "That’s what he would want us to do so coach brought us together for a prayer before practice. Coach has been great at addressing us. He addressed us this morning about it, talked about how he was in surgery, said he would give us a further update when he knew it and then he has been very upfront with everything with it. So it’s been good to have guys not wondering.”

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