As people shuffled by with hot dogs smothered with messy red chili and bright orange cheese sauce, Chris Hairston posed for pictures with fans and signed the shirts of employees.
Tuesday morning, Hairston and two Chargers teammates, joined by John Spanos, the team’s president of football operations, and AG Spanos, president of business operations, were met by cheers from 50 or so fans in Los Angeles.
For the offensive tackle, it was a slightly different vibe than he has been experiencing in the club’s former city.
Because it was “the natural thing to do,” Hairston said he has been making his way through San Diego on what he’s calling a “farewell tour,” organizing charity events and listening to fans get their feelings off their chests.
“In a tough situation, you kind of have to face it head on and try not to make it too weird,” Hairston said Tuesday. “You just make yourself available so they can blow off some steam.”
Typical offensive lineman move — put yourself in harm’s way, brace for the impact and shoulder the blow.
But Hairston’s desire to take San Diegans on a farewell tour comes from the same place that brought him to Los Angeles on Tuesday for the first time as a Charger. It’s why any arguments with his fiancee, Carmen, get talked through over and over until a resolution is reached.
Less-than-ideal situations strangely appeal to him, and the North Carolina native loves trying to figure them out.
“It’s been fun to be a part of this process,” he said. “It is awkward — and that’s part of what I like about this. I like awkward situations and to see what I can do with them.”
Tuesday’s welcome party at Pink’s Hot Dogs was a little light on the “awkward.” While fans weren’t lined up around the block to welcome the three Chargers players, those who were in house howled and cheered while the players checked out the menu and ordered lunch.
The event was part of the team’s continued strategy to try to be visible in Los Angeles while still being based in San Diego. While the move to their new Costa Mesa headquarters won’t be completed until later this summer, the Chargers will continue to bring players and staff to town.
Sunday, the Chargers will enter a team in the corporate relay at the Los Angeles Marathon, with General Manager Tom Telesco and linebacker Denzel Perryman each running a leg.
At 330 pounds-plus, sitting down and crushing chili-cheese hot dogs is more Hairston’s speed. But then again, those weird, awkward situations apply to the lineman, and that’s why he’s doing his part to say goodbye to San Diego.
“I’m kind of that guy,” he said.