Rams already winning the perception fight with their new roommate

Rams already winning the perception fight with their new roommate
Joseph Macrae protests the departure of the Chargers at the team's former headquarters in San Diego. (Denis Poroy / Associated Press)

The Rams were so excited by the arrival of their new non-threatening roommate Thursday, they celebrated by hauling in a shiny new piece of furniture. Just as the Chargers officially announced their move to Los Angeles, they were casually directed to the back bedroom, the smaller one in the shadows, so the Rams could properly show it off.

"Um, welcome to town, Chargers, and before you disappear, have you met our new head coach, Sean McVay?"


The timing was exquisite, the Rams allowing the Chargers to have the headlines for all of about a dozen hours before brashly stealing some thunder by hiring a celebrated 30-year-old offensive whiz to be the youngest head coach in modern NFL history.

No deference shown. No space given. It was the exact opposite of the Rams' approach last spring when they waited a day to announce the trade for the No. 1 overall draft pick out of respect for Kobe Bryant's final game.

Get used to it, Chargers. For the foreseeable future, this is going to be one seriously unbalanced relationship.

Even though a leaked report late Thursday afternoon indicated the Chargers were on the verge of hiring career offensive assistant Anthony Lynn as the franchise's first African American head coach, the buzz was late and lost. The first indication is the Rams will begin the relationship as the roomie with more space in the refrigerator, lower shelves in the cabinets, and first dibs on the couch.

With a bright new leader on the sidelines and a still potentially fun top draft pick calling plays on the field, the Rams will play the role of the new Lakers.

With a scoundrel owner, aging star, and messy San Diego roots, the Chargers will be like the 1980s Clippers.

With a deep-rooted, tradition-filled fan base throughout Los Angeles, the Rams will be like the new Dodgers.

With a much smaller, Orange County-centered fan base, the Chargers will be like the old-school Angels.

The initial perceptions will be so one-sided, the Rams are probably one of the few folks in town who will actually welcome Chargers President Dean Spanos to town. In fact, some might say this is the first Rams win since November.

Not only will the Chargers help build the $2.6-billion Inglewood stadium, contributing as much as $500 million in loans and personal seat licenses, but they shouldn't threaten the Rams much until they get there.

The Rams are even happier considering the black-and-silver alternative. Imagine if the second team would have been the Raiders? That would have been a better choice for Los Angeles, and a far more serious competitor for the Rams. The Raiders already own half this town. They would have swaggered into the Coliseum threatening to steal fans and attention. The battle between them would have been monumental.

The Rams didn't want any part of that. The Rams wanted the toothless Chargers, whom the average Los Angeles sports fan will likely view as unwanted and unnecessary.

Already the Chargers have ceded this town's most traditional football home to the Rams. They won't join the Rams as temporary residents of the Coliseum, instead playing their home games in the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson, which houses Major League Soccer's Galaxy.

It will be half the size of a regular NFL stadium, and the Chargers are touting it as a chance to bring fans a more intimate experience while differentiating themselves from the Rams. All good arguments, but a bad idea.

Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry discuss the Los Angeles Rams hiring Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay as their new head coach.

While the StubHub Center is a wonderful stadium, great location, and perfect for soccer, it will appear minor league by NFL standards. The Chargers will look like an Arena Football League team without the roof and nets. With the higher prices, it will be difficult to imagine even the relatively small venue being filled with anybody other than fans of visiting teams.

You are where you play, and the Chargers are immediately branding themselves as a second-class NFL team by playing anywhere other than an NFL-ready stadium.

The Rams have the digs. The Rams have the fan base. The one thing the Rams are missing is the wins, but even then, it's going to be difficult for the Chargers to quickly catch up.

Since Mike Scioscia was named manager of the Angels in 2000, his teams have been to the playoffs seven times — only one fewer than the Dodgers — while winning this town's only World Series championship during that time. Yet because of a combination of geography and tradition, they have barely made a dent in the Los Angeles market.

The Chargers lack the geography. They don't have any of the tradition. And so far, they lack all touch.

After officially announcing the move Thursday, the Chargers unveiled a new logo. Or should we say, they unveiled a stolen Dodgers logo, only italicized. Then they later said it wasn't really their logo. But as of Thursday night it was still on their website under a new slogan, "Fight for LA.''

Fight For LA? Really? Given the current climate in the beer-soaked stands at an NFL game, do you really want to go there?

The Chargers aren't going to win fans on a platform of violence. They aren't going to win fans by pretending to be the Dodgers. The only way this works is if they win, and entertain, and hope the Rams lose their luster.

The Rams know this. News conference Friday. New head coach. Bright young kid. Lot of juice. The Chargers have yet to even have a news conference announcing they're here. Or have they?

Get more of Bill Plaschke's work and follow him on Twitter @BillPlaschke