Column

Chargers fought for L.A. and won some battles in the proccess

Standing in an emptying locker room, Antonio Gates was asked to speculate how the Chargers would have performed in the postseason.

The delivery of his words was measured. The statement wasn’t.

“I didn’t see a team beating us at this point,” Gates said.

So it will be an offseason of what-ifs for the Chargers, who didn’t reach the playoffs despite winning nine of their last 12 games.

What was lost extends far beyond the lines of the football field. If this season could be considered a minor success on the field — the Chargers won four more games than last year— it was a borderline disaster in the ways that really mattered.

The Chargers have a solid football team and a magnificent home venue in StubHub Center, but remain strangers in their adopted city. They were often visitors in their own home, as was the case again Sunday, when their supporters were heavily outnumbered by Oakland Raiders fans.

How many nonseason ticket holders reading this can name 10 Chargers? What about five?

“It is what it is, honestly,” free safety Tre Boston said. “We hope the fans see what we did on the back end.”

They almost certainly didn’t.

With the exception of the Lakers, teams in L.A. are ignored until the start of the playoffs. The baseball season might be a marathon for Dodgers players, but as far as the majority of fans are concerned, it’s a month-long sprint that starts in the first week of October.

The Rams won their division and the majority of the market will be introduced to them in their postseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday.

The Chargers already had enough working against them, particularly because of their strong association with San Diego.

Building a tradition starts with the creation of special moments. A Super Bowl run could have offered the Chargers the platform to do that. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram could have become household names. Philip Rivers could have charmed the city.

That won’t happen.

You almost wonder whether the Chargers would have been better off stinking up StubHub Center as the Rams did the Coliseum last year. The Rams were awful enough in their first season back in L.A. to make themselves a subject of conversation in the city.

The Chargers are respectable, but anonymous. In this market, that’s arguably worse.

::

The Rams are heading to the postseason, but owner Stan Kroenke’s more popular football team is a mess.

One of English soccer’s most decorated teams, Arsenal hasn’t won a Premier League championship since Kroenke became its majority shareholder in 2011. The club has won three FA Cups since then, but the competition has been devalued in recent years, as top teams have focused their efforts instead on European competitions.

By finishing outside of the top four of the EPL last year, Arsenal failed to qualify for the European Champions League. The Gunners are in danger of missing out on the Champions League again, as they are in fifth place in the EPL after a late controversial penalty cost them points Saturday in a 1-1 tie with West Brom.

The decline is expected to continue. Kroenke appears content with longtime coach Arsene Wenger so long as Wenger refrains from badmouthing the club’s economically measured approach on the transfer market. Top striker Alexis Sanchez has only six months remaining on his contract and is expected to move on; a player of his caliber wants to play in the Champions League. Sanchez’s departure could start an exodus of whatever other high-end talent remains on the roster.

::

Further evidence NFL preseason games mean absolutely nothing: The Cleveland Browns, who were 0-16, were 4-0 in exhibition games. The only other team in league history to finish 0-16, the 2008 Detroit Lions, was also undefeated in the preseason.

::

DeVry University agreed to a $100-million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2016 after it was accused of misleading prospective students with advertisements claiming high employment success rates and income levels of graduates.

Here’s something the for-profit university can boast of that is true: Their graduates now include a head of state, as former world soccer player of the year George Weah was elected president of Liberia last week.

A high school dropout, Weah bolstered his academic credentials by earning multiple degrees from DeVry in the last five years

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
62°