As the San Diego Chargers packed their bags and left town for smoggier pastures in Los Angeles I, like many fans, pledged to not follow them.
Despite the fact the Bolts were the only team I knew and loved, they are dead to me.
I represent the city of San Diego and would never root for a team from Los Angeles. NEVER.
With all that being said, I do not hold ill will to those who have chosen to follow the team up north. To each their own. I understand that the Chargers meant so much to so many in and around the community. I also understand that some just weren’t willing to cut the emotional ties. That is fine. I will not hate on those fans. But at the same time, they should respect everyone’s decision in this troubling time we live in.
Becoming an NFL free agent fan is a tough thing to cope with. Those that have chosen to end their relationship with the Chargers are suddenly without a team. Week after week, on game day, we have all congregated in front of a television to watch a sport that we all grew up with. We all rooted for our Chargers and lived our football lives through them. Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and others were like family members to us. To say goodbye to them has been painful. True Charger fans have nothing but respect and love for the players. The decision to shun the team is not about them as individuals. It is all about the ownership of the team and the blatant disrespect to the city of San Diego.
Let it be know that I have always stated that the Spanos’ family was victimized initially in this whole fiasco. The city of San Diego and its political circus certainly were at fault for neglecting the team and its wishes. After the expansion of the stadium, following the 1994 Chargers Super Bowl run, the clock was ticking on the old relic named Jack Murphy Stadium. The city approved expanding the stadium to maximize seating for an upcoming Super Bowl bid and for the yearly Holiday Bowl game. Instead of fixing and redoing the infrastructure of the stadium, they opted for a cosmetic fix. The press box and the under body of the stadium were completely neglected at this time in order to just cram more seats and suites into the stadium.
Enclosing “The Murph”, turned the once beautiful stadium into a typical bowl stadium. As new ballparks like Camden Yards and Coors Field were being opened, the Padres were stuck in a stadium that was reminiscent of Bush, Riverfront, and Three Rivers Stadium, which were all quickly being labeled as replaceable and obsolete. Thankfully, the Padres had a miracle run in 1998. That World Series appearance helped the team gain approval for a downtown stadium. The Chargers were left holding the bag. Immediately they realized they were in trouble.
The Chargers tried and tried to get anything done in terms of a new stadium, but the political red tape and corruption within the city became too much. They were a beaten franchise at this point, but still had support from the whole fan base. However, at this point things became fishy with the franchise. Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison were let go, which signified a deep lack of family environment within the Bolts. Both were the heart and soul of the team and the ownership complete ignored the fans’ plea to keep each player. We all know the success each man enjoyed after their Charger career was over.
It wasn’t just what the team was doing on the field either, as the stadium was completely neglected in this era. The scoreboards that were installed in the late 90’s were horribly out of date, as was the sound system for the stadium. Nothing was done by the Chargers. Instead of making the best of the situation and using their profits, they did nothing and cried about it. At this point, knowledgeable fans started to become concerned what this franchise’s ultimate goal was. Did they want to create a winning franchise or generate income like a business juggernaut? Was the fans’ experience even a slight concern to them? We all know the answer to these questions, as the move to Los Angeles was totally money driven.
What makes it even worse is the fact that the NFL did nothing to stop the move. They failed many people. In a league that preaches family, there is no such thing. Players are shuffled around in non-guaranteed contracts in a sport that is, by far, the most brutal to individual’s health. And don’t even get me started on the concussion issues and their failure to properly address them. There are huge issues within the NFL and the league continues to ignore them.
In recent weeks there has been a horrible “thing” taking place in and around the county of San Diego. More and more, I have run into ex-Chargers fans who are now rooting for former AFC division rivals. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders are teams we were taught to despise. Their fans were annoying to us and we can vividly remember countless games against them in the heat of the battle. These three other teams are garbage teams to me. Yes, I hate the Chargers and what Dean Spanos has done to them, but I will never root for a former division opponent. Where is the pride for your city? Where has it gone?
This is exactly what the NFL wants. They do not want fans to have an allegiance to just their local team. They want us all to view the product for what it is, and in doing that, you lose the history and pride of the sport. Players play for the name of the city that is on the front of their jersey, not just for the name on the back. Or at least they should be.
The NFL would like all 30 teams to play in the most luxurious venues and they have no sense in what is right. If a state like California is not going to fund a public stadium, then they move on. If not for Stan Kroenke and his endless riches, there is no way a new stadium would be built in L.A. The NFL approved, of all things, a stadium in Las Vegas. The biggest tourist trap in the world and a city full of corruption. The Las Vegas Raiders is a total marketing gimmick. The most hated team in the NFL, in the city that never sleeps. The sin city.
I just shake my head at what the NFL has become. The league has turned its back to the fans of St. Louis, Oakland, and San Diego. Who is next? The NFL owner’s group is a fraternity of men who use their franchises like play items. These professional teams have a lot of civic responsibility to uphold and should not be treated like businesses solely.
Is an NFL apocalypse coming? The ratings of the sport are currently down after two weeks of play. People within the NFL point to the hurricanes and floods as the reason, but I question that. Are people tired of the wool being pulled over their eyes? More and more, fans become educated on the NFL process. In this day and age of technology, there is very little that remains secret.
The NFL is headed down the wrong road. There is still time to fix the sport before irreversible damage is done to it. Charger fans pledging allegiance to the Raiders is a bad thing. It is what the NFL wants. If you are trying to stick it to Dean Spanos, this is not the way. I feel your pain. But please, rethink your decision.