Every relationship is built on honesty, so the San Diego Chargers should hear this as their moving vans are chugging up the 5 Freeway on their noble mission of greed.
We. Don’t. Want. You.
The news broke Wednesday that Chargers owner Dean Spanos has informed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell he is moving the team to Los Angeles, which is pretty much dreadful news for Los Angeles.
Wow, just what we need, the return of a professional sports team with no buzz, no tradition, few local fans north of south Orange County, limited success, and an owner who just stole them away from a place where they were loved unconditionally for 56 years.
What was the NFL thinking? What are the Chargers thinking? I know what Spanos is thinking, that he is leaving behind those unwashed heathens who didn’t want their tax dollars to pay for a football stadium and sliding into Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood palace to ride piggyback on the Rams.
What a guy. What a joke.
The problem is not that Los Angeles must now be asked to support two NFL teams after 22 years of somehow surviving with none. We knew this would happen. This was the deal when the Rams returned last year. This is what the NFL has always wanted for Inglewood, so there was no avoiding it.
The problem is, the second team should have been the Raiders. The Southland is filled with Raiders fans everywhere. I have still never met a single Chargers fan.
The NFL will feel the full embarrassment of this move next fall when the Raiders play the Chargers here and the stadium will be painted in silver and black. At least that game will be sold out. Whether they initially play in the giant Coliseum or the tiny confines of StubHub Center, it’s hard to imagine the Chargers selling many tickets for any of their other games in the next two years before the Inglewood palace opens.
The Chargers aren’t even the second team in town behind the Rams. The Chargers aren’t even the third team of interest here behind the Rams and Raiders. The Chargers might not even be in the top-five favorite NFL teams in Los Angeles.
And now they’re going to play their home games here? It’s difficult to imagine many people really caring. Look at how many fans fled the Rams after they won only four games in their dismal return season here. Are those fans now going to get behind a team that has advanced to one Super Bowl since the Super Bowl began being played 51 years ago? The Chargers have won four playoff games in 22 years and, like, don’t we already have one of those teams?
The Rams have been awful, and are currently terrible, but because they played here for 48 years, they still feel like “our” Rams.
The Chargers will brag about how they were born here in 1960, but, seriously, they stuck around only one year before fleeing south.
The Chargers are San Diego’s team. The Chargers are beloved there. The Chargers belong there. And in coming days, don’t listen to all these NFL experts moan that because of stadium issues, the Chargers couldn’t make it work there.
Sure they could. According to a recent Forbes ranking, the Spanos family is worth $2.1 billion. They could have made it work there if they weren’t insistent on using public money that the people of San Diego smartly refused to give them.
Think about this. The NFL gave Spanos an unprecedented $300 million to make a $1.2-billion stadium work, and he still couldn’t figure out a way to come up with the rest without picking the taxpayers’ pockets.
So he moves the Chargers to a foreign land where they will play among strangers so his team can play for one dollar a year — seriously — in a $2.6 -billion stadium that Kroenke is building with no public money.
It gets worse. Spanos will have to pay as much as a $650-million relocation fee to bring his team here. Think he could have used that money toward a new stadium in San Diego?
While the Rams returned home in triumph, Spanos will come to Los Angeles in shame. Remember how Art Modell gave 35 years of his life to owning the Cleveland Browns, then suddenly moved them to Baltimore? The once-beloved Modell spent the rest of his days as the scourge of Cleveland. The same will happen to Spanos in San Diego, his legacy sold up the freeway.
And who exactly will be coming up that freeway with him? Who cares? The Chargers have better players than the Rams, but they still generally stink. They don’t have a coach, they fired the last guy, whoever he was. They have a 35-year-old quarterback named Philip Rivers who’s a pretty good dude, but how much longer will he keep playing?
The team will be unfortunate, unwitting participants in this mess, and it’s hard to imagine them initially being received as much more than a novelty act.
The good news about the Chargers’ move is that nobody will have to spend much money on a welcome parade. It will be a short one. There will be one limo carrying Spanos and one Brink’s truck carrying his loot, both moving hurriedly up that freeway ahead of the muffled San Diego cries, all of Los Angeles peering briefly out the windows before closing their blinds.