I’m sure you heard the news, an update that felt strangely overlooked by national media and the talking heads on SportsCenter given the weight it carried in America’s Finest City.
“The Chargers plan to announce that they will move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season; the announcement could come as early as Thursday.”
Given the rollercoaster ride this entire San Diego stadium saga has taken local fans on, it didn’t feel official. It’s a tactic to strong-arm the NFL into providing necessary funds, we said. It’s a last-ditch attempt to make something work between the team and city politicians, we reasoned. They can’t actually leave the city they’ve called home for 55 years, just like that, we begged to believe.
The decision had been made. The Chargers, our Chargers, had been seduced by the hard-to-fathom holiness of Hollywood, an allure everyone but the billionaire owner in the ivory tower found difficult to believe existed.
Gone. Just like that.
The reactions were swift and strong. A makeshift memorial of Chargers gear – jerseys, hats, game day signs, even a Union Tribune cover story celebrating the team’s first Super Bowl trip – began to accumulate outside Chargers Park. It was eventually set on fire, a destructive allusion to the hell a region of blessed beaches and heavenly sunshine felt it had been momentarily thrust into. We watched as fans aged 8 to 80 sobbed into their sleeves, brooded without aim, and saluted the villainy of Spanos the only way they felt appropriate. Encompassing all of it was a frantic feeling of funereal mourning, the onslaught of grieving so strikingly sudden that it became difficult to comprehend.
I don’t blame you if you shared any or all of these emotions and reactions. From start to finish, from process to verdict to execution, it was so plainly one of the worst decisions made in recent memory – that’s an objective fact, mind you – that it was hard to believe it had actually been made. The mockery that emerged around the sporting sphere and that focused on the horrendous “LA” logo, a carbon copy of the Dodgers’ longtime logo drawn by a shakier hand, was comforting the way Ryan Leaf was at one point an NFL quarterback – the aim of the thing of consequence so obviously missed its mark that you almost felt bad it had even tried.
The funny thing, if there is anything funny about a single slimy man ripping the heart of San Diego sports from the city’s powerless grasp, was this: in a situation where no one won, it could be argued that San Diego at least broke even. The amputation of a vital limb will never not hurt. But when that amputation removes something as contagiously cancerous as the recent antics of Dean Spanos were to America’s Finest City, it’s hard to feel bad for long. As mayor Kevin Faulconer (certainly not a blameless man in his own right) said in his address to the city following the Chargers’ announcement, “San Diego did not lose the Chargers. The Chargers lost San Diego.”
It was a brutal break-up, and as with any split, the recovery process will likely be a long and painful one. You have your pictures together (Kellen Winslow walking off the field after the Epic in Miami is a personal favorite). You have your favorite videos of each other (LT dancing through the corner of the end zone for #29). You even have that musical melody that can only be your song. You know the one. So how can fans, after years of fighting to save a doomed relationship, move past the final break-up with a partner they’ve been faithful to for years? I may have a few thoughts on who may be deserving of your newly-single self.
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