October 23, 2012
Obviously, the good people in Los Angeles are very different from you people in San Diego.
Or, as Bill Johnston, the director of public relations for the Chargers, put it in a recent blog to folks in San Diego: "What's with you people?''
The Chargers fell apart last week against Denver despite suggestions now that they were using a sticky substance.
They let you people down on national TV, and yet you people flipped out as if they had never done it before.
"Time to take a chill pill,'' wrote the PR guy on chargers.com.
"Yes, Monday night's loss was bad,'' he scribbled. "Horrible. Embarrassing.
"OK…enough already. No mas. I get it.
"Now get over it. It was a loss. One loss.''
At the very least you people have to give this to Johnston: It's an interesting approach to public relations.
Maybe this is a change in style. Instead of begging, the Chargers will now yell at you people to buy more tickets to avoid blacked-out TV games. We'll see how that goes over.
I've known Johnston since 1986, when I was sentenced to hard time with the San Diego Union covering the Chargers on a daily basis. But I had no idea it was Johnston's desire to write like Page 2.
And now apparently his blog has gone over as well as Page 2 does most days with UCLA football fans.
"How dare they say this to the Chargers Fans!'' replied one woman in a message beneath Johnston's blog.
And more: "This is gonna be the start of moving to L.A. By using the 'fans suck' approach they can weasel out of San Diego.''
It worked for the Rams when making their case to leave Anaheim. And to keep the conspiracy theory going for San Diego radio, remember that the Rams' PR guy at the time used to be Johnston's mentor.
I'm going to find it difficult here to tease Johnston, knowing how solid he is as a pro and watching him raise his children while his wife was hit with an incurable and debilitating disease.
Difficult to tease, I said, but not impossible.
So I called Johnston. He heard my voice, sighed and put me on hold. I get that a lot from PR guys here too.
I know from experience that when the Chargers place you on hold you will be hearing Chargers highlights. So I knew it wouldn't be long.
"I didn't intend to offend anyone,'' Johnston began. "But I did upset a lot of people. I feel terrible about it.''
OK, so he doesn't want to write like Page 2, which has to be a relief to owner Dean Spanos, who probably wouldn't be all that pleased to have his own PR guy writing he's a goof.
But Johnston didn't hold back when expressing disappointment with the media, folks who tweet and those who listen to sports talk radio.
Like you people, I'm surprised he never mentioned Philip Rivers.
"A few of the more recent Chargers teams have been declared dead by quacks only to awaken in good health,'' wrote Johnston.
Awaken in good health? I believe this is the organization's first acknowledgment beyond the hiring of Norv Turner that winning a Super Bowl isn't the end-all goal.
Johnston grew up in San Diego, has been a Chargers fan since he was a kid, and when he turns on the local radio he gets Lee Hamilton. If you don't feel sorry for him now, you never will.
"Look at it this way,'' Johnston wrote. "We want our loved ones to succeed, and we'll do whatever it takes to help them. But when they make mistakes, like we all do, we would never criticize or belittle them publicly.''
I can just imagine how upset you people were to be reminded Ryan Leaf was once one of your loved ones.
Johnston said he gave his blog to others to check for typos. Apparently he never asked anyone about emotion going too far. I guess there comes a time when everyone needs an editor or a colonoscopy.
"The biggest mistake I made was the way it was framed, as if coming from the PR director,'' Johnston says. "I was reacting like a fan. But I don't feel I communicated the message as well as I should have.''
How well I know that feeling.
Johnston wrote another blog to clarify his first blog because so many were upset. I might have begun the second blog this way: "You people live among us.''
Instead he wrote: "My last column sure sparked a firestorm of emotion…. As a fan of this team, I'm with you in saying this team needs to play better.''
I just hope he remembers to take credit as a Page 2 wannabe for inspiring the Chargers when they make the playoffs.
The Chargers' 10 remaining opponents are a combined 24-40; only one team, Baltimore, possesses a winning record.
The Chargers will have to really tank to miss the playoffs.
But if they do, you people in San Diego might want to take a chill pill and follow the lead of the good people of Los Angeles.
Instead of losing it when the Dodgers disappoint, they just expect as much from the Choking Dogs.
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