Monthly Archives: June 2015
Chargers.com interviewed cornerback Brandon Flowers.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com provides all the information that you need to know about Philip Rivers.
Matt Calkins of The San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Chargers’ stadium antics are a necessary evil.
Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego talks about the rumor that Curtis Conway may be Hank Bauer’s replacement.
Eric Williams of ESPN.com believes that Stevie Johnson is the X-factor among the Chargers’ wideouts.
Some good news is finally coming out of Chargers park amidst all the controversy regarding the stadium issues and the status of Eric Weddle’s contract. It was announced this week that the San Diego Chargers will retire the number 21, now made infamous by beloved former running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The ceremony will be held during halftime of San Diego’s Thursday Night home tilt versus the Kansas City Chiefs on November 22nd.
In the coming days and weeks, the Boltblitz staff will be sharing their recollections and favorite LT anecdotes. All of you are welcome and encouraged to share your favorite LT memories and help us honor the greatest Chargers running back ever, campfire style. There are bound to be some moments in time some remember vividly while others may have forgotten. Read and enjoy.
My personal favorite memories are LT are many and they the length of his reign in San Diego. His body of work year by year became more and more impressive. There are few specific games that stood out more than others but moreso how he played. Barry Sanders was my favorite running back prior to his abrupt and shocking retirement. Watching LT reminded me of watching Barry with less shiftiness but more power and comparable breakaway speed.
As far as a specific game, the one that stands out the most is the week 14 home game against Denver in 2006 when he broke the single season rushing record. It was a ‘Do you remember where you were?’ type of moment for me. I remember that day very well. I always said the first pro football game I would attend would be a Chargers home game. On this day, I was working at the Arizona Cardinals home game as a vendor in one of the concession stands so it doesn’t count in my book since I was there in an official working capacity.
I took every opportunity to run errands because I found the TV in the food court showing the Chargers game. As I pretended to be cleaning up discarded plates and cups I watched that fateful late fourth quarter drive, fully aware of the moment because I could hear the commentary. It was a beautiful moment as Tomlinson scored touchdown #29 and was mobbed by his teammates. I stood in the concourse fist pumping like I was Tiger Woods and high-fiving a couple other Chargers fans that had walked up.
As his teammates raised him on their shoulders and LT raised the game ball aloft, I couldn’t have been more proud of him or more proud to be a Chargers fan. It’s a record that still stands and most likely will stand for a very long time with the near extinction of the every down, 25 carries per game running back. For almost a decade, LT was the most electrifying running back in the league and he still didn’t get his just due in my opinion. If he had played in a major market he would be heralded as the greatest ever by now.
I have a lifetime of LT memories. I will forever remember the long touchdown runs, seven touchdown passes, the beautiful leaps over the top of the pile at the goal line and the passion he played with on the field. I will remember the jarring stiff arm he made an art form as he ran downhill and away from would be tacklers, the receiving touchdowns and his method of leading by example. LT was something no athlete wants to be, a role model. He didn’t get in trouble with the law. Father. Husband. Family man. His workout regimen was legendary. He is a pillar of the community.
Just like LT, the Chargers and we Chargers fans will accept and appreciate all he did in putting the San Diego Chargers back on the map in a quiet, unassuming, typical easy-going California way. We will appreciate the AFC West titles, the rushing records and Pro Bowl nods with class, as Tomlinson did. No matter what happens with the relocation issue, LT is San Diego and it’s only fitting his number is retired IN SAN DIEGO.
The Greg One
Rarely do we encounter someone who can truly inspire us. Being passionate fans of a sports team, we sometimes feel that athletes are superhuman, especially when comparing them to ourselves. The general public is able to know what pro athletes make on their paychecks, and probably know more about their personal lives than the athletes would like.
The bottom line? They are people, just like you and I. They have the same passion for the game, the same ideals about values, morals, politics..etc. as we do. Outside a few thorns in the NFL, I bet if we were to spend time with them, we might be surprised to find out they are regular human beings with a physical talent that exceeds most.
Since around the time of last year’s draft, I have been very fortunate to have a friendship with our own Craig Watts Jr. I did my first interview of an NFL player with Craig, was able to get him involved with an amazing Chargers website, BoltBlitz.com, and was able to have my nephew meet him out in Arizona – all the while tucked in my little corner of Florida.
What also makes Craig unique, is his reasoning on playing the game of football. “ Football was not my way out; I do it for myself because I love to play – not as a means to an end.”
Craig Watts Jr. is very comparable to….Craig Watts Jr. He has never wanted to compare himself to someone else, nor has he ever tried to emulate anyone. “Some players might even hate the game but they talked always about going to D-1 and playing in the NFL. I just wanted to play the game because I love the game. In all activities that I was involved with, I just loved the competitiveness of the whatever sport I was involved in.”
With so many accolades and adjectives to choose from when describing Craig, the one word that I confidently choose to use is humble. Speaking for over two hours with Craig, and hearing his routine of feeding the homeless when he goes out to eat, warms my heart with a sense of pride and validation in the goodness of humanity. He never informs people he encounters that he plays for the San Diego Chargers. Craig does not brag about feeding several people on the streets when he goes out. Have some of us done this? I know I have. So why would Craig get huge publicity from this when you and I have done something similar with no attention? Because Craig Watts Jr. is a human being first, football player second.
With that I would like to take you on a personal journey into the life of the offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers, Craig Watts Jr.
BWK: As child, who was the most influential person in your life and why?
CW: I have to say my dad. As I got older, I realized how just how much I modeled myself after him; how much I am like him and our similarities. I would say a close second would be my brother. It was just the father-to-son and the brother-to-brother thing, which in itself is a strong bond. I feel that those two were very instrumental as far as what I saw as a role model and influence (to be).
I would also say that others who were a big influence in my life growing up were professional wrestlers. Me and my buddy idolized wrestlers and you could not tell us (back then) that we weren’t going to be professional wrestlers.
BWK: Was there any wrestler in particular?
CW: You know it’s funny that King (Dunlap) and I were just talking about this the other day. My top three were, on the WWE side, The Rock, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. And in particular, the “bad boy” persona of The Undertaker. He was a biker and came out Kid Rock. That portion of him (The Undertaker) I really enjoyed watching. But if I were to include all wrestlers and not just WWE, I would say Goldberg (as my favorite). Goldberg was the dude back then. There were a lot others I really enjoyed, but those were my top favorites.
BWK: How did you spend your summers during your youth?
CW: We moved around a lot so there was various things we would do. With my parents both in active duty me and my brother were usually left alone to be active during our summers. I would go to the YS (Youth Services) a lot. The YS is a lot like the YMCA but for military families. There was the teen center, pool tables, crafts, basketball courts and other activities. No matter where we were at, Kansas, Germany..etc, we were always involved in something. We never just sat at home.
BWK: What branch of the military were your parents active in?
CW: I was the only one in my family who was not involved in the military. My brother, who is about 5 ½ years older, was in the Navy for about 3 or 4 years and I believe is still active. My mother did 21 years in the Army as a medic. Then there was my dad who did 27 years in the Army as a logistics officer.
BWK: With both your parents being in active duty, were you and your brother and sister left alone for any period of time?
CW: From the best of my knowledge the military does a very good job if you have two parents in active duty; never deployed at the same time. Because I don’t ever remember that occurring. I was always with at least one of my parents. It was normal for me. Now thinking back I think the only time that might have happened was when my dad went to visit my mom who was deployed at the time, for their anniversary. But that was for a short time and we stayed with our Godparents.
BWK: In your formative years, was there a teacher that you remember having been particularly influential?
CW: Due to us moving around a lot, I went to 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 2 High schools. So I have seen my fair share of teachers and all of them were great in their own right. In fact, if you gave me time, I could probably name almost all of them.
But to pick the one that was most influential to me has to be Dr. Clarkand his wife, who is also a Doctor. They taught History and his wife was even my advisor. They definitely shaped the academic side of my life and I am still good friends with both of them today. Another person who I have to say was a huge influence on my academics was my mom. My mom would never let me miss a day of school even if I was deathly ill. Our family would move and I still would not miss a day of school. I remember attending one school on a Tuesday, which happened to be the last day I was attending there, and on Wednesday I was attending a new school; literally did not miss a day of school.
As far as my most influential instructor athletically, it is easily my high school coach at Killeen High in Killeen, TX. I was living in San Antonio and attending high school for a while and then moved to Killeen where Coach Gaskamp invited me to play football. He was the first person who really showed me what I could do with it (size and skill). There was a buddy of mine on the team who was all-everything and in the state of Texas that was huge. Coach Gaskamp took me aside and told me that if I trained hard enough, that I could be great.
BWK: Who was your very first love?
CW: I think the first person that I legitimately had a crush on, and I am sure she had no idea, was this girl named Alicia in middle school. I used to think she was the most perfect person on earth; she could do no wrong. I think I liked her because she was one of the popular kids but she was super nice to me. And as a self-proclaimed nerd, that was cool. Like I thought so much of her that if I were hanging off a cliff with a rope tied to my ankles and she cut the rope…I would tell everyone “It’s not her fault! Someone made her do it!”
BWK: What was your favorite music/band in high school?
CW: I liked everything musically but my affinity for great R&B and even jazz, was due to my dad’s influence. My dad listened to Kenny G. I know everyone makes fun of him but I thought he was the man back then. (Side note: BWK did in fact make fun of Craig for this)
The other album that I listened to so often was Maxwell’s album titled Now. It was just his face and like an orange cover. I knew every single lyric to every single song on that album. That was like the only album we would listen to on the way to soccer games. I really don’t think my dad took that album out of the car’s CD player for an entire year.
As far as like my soundtrack to my high school days though, I would say that it would have to be the band The Fall Out Boys.
BWK: What do you remember most about living abroad? Any interesting stories that the readers would enjoy knowing from your time out there?
CW: Without sounding too philosophical, the one thing I really learned from living abroad was unselfishness. Let me give you an example: We lived on a base of Americans in another person’s country, as a result of the most horrific thing that has ever happened on the earth (WWII), yet we loved the Germans and they loved us. You would think that if there was a base of Germans that was placed in like Lexington, Kentucky, how outraged people would be. But the Germans were not like that at all. I don’t remember anyone being too upset, being discriminatory, or even being messed with for that matter. Even when we moved back there the second time, the Czech Republic was tearing itself apart with Germany right next door, 9/11 had happened…etc., and the people were still friendly and unselfish.
BWK: So you were in Germany for 9/11?
CW: Yes I was. I happened to be home after school; which was different from all of my stateside friends since I was 6 hours ahead of them and already finished school for the day. Anyway, I only had about 7 channels to watch and I was trying to find Cartoon Network. Then I saw it and thought it was a movie trailer or a commercial. But something inside told me to call my dad. So I did. At first my dad tried to tell me over the phone by telling me that a plane crashed into a building. Well at 10 yrs old, that was not a good enough answer for me. I had a ton of questions about the incident, where it happened and what the World Trade Center was. My dad then told me that he would explain it when he got home. The base was on lockdown with a ton of extra security around. There was a gate that was always opened, we could come and go as we pleased. Now this gate was locked. It was an experience for sure.
BWK: What was your very first paying job?
CW: My parents didn’t want me to pursue getting a job because they were all about focusing on school and being a kid. I mean I had mowed some yards and such for neighbors. That reminds me of a funny little story. I remember there was a neighbor when I lived in San Antonio that paid me about $20 a day to feed their cats and water their plants. I remember being so irresponsible about this. It was such an easy job as they were just two houses down. I would sometimes forget to go, or I would lose the key, or just felt like an 11 yr old lazy kid. And if I did go, I would water those plants with a TON of water, thinking that I could pass on it for a few more days – not realizing you could drown a plant.
But seriously, the first actual paying job where I received a paycheck was when I attended West Texas A&M. I did it for all four years and actually when I first started, I thought it was a volunteer gig, so when I found out I was getting a paycheck, I freaked out. I was a peer leader at the campus; basically we were the face of the school. The kids would come out for orientation, usually during the summer, and we were assigned to them; kind of like their role models. We would hang out with them all day making sure they had all that they needed. These kids were already accepted into the school, they just had not yet enrolled for their classes. We were not there to recruit and we were not there as a tour guide. What I really loved was that it was workplace simulated. If there was a problem that we saw, we would fix it. My boss would come to me and tell me that we were involved and if there were changes that needed to be made in order for it to be better, whatever it was, then we should do it. It was very empowering. I am the only one, that I know of, that did it for all four years. I really enjoyed it and am still good friends with some of those incoming freshman today.
BWK: Do you remember how much your first paycheck was?
CW: We made an annual salary of $3,500 a year. Every other week I got a check for $146, like clockwork. I could not wait until payday and roll myself to payroll services for those checks!!
BWK: If you were not gifted as a football player, what do you think you would be doing right now?
CW: I would still be in school getting my composite Masters degree in international relations and national security. My emphasis in school was politics and American history and I wanted to pursue a career in a government-related field like the FBI or national defense.
BWK: Which professional athlete during your lifetime have you admired most?
CW: I loved and admired all sports and so I had a player or two from each sport that I really admired. In basketball it is Lebron James. I do watch and like watching basketball a lot, and cheered for the Chicago Bulls. Many pro basketball players I liked; kind of random, but I loved watching Shaq and Reggie Miller. As far as Reggie I really began to appreciate him more and his competitiveness on the court. In baseball, and I am not that big of a baseball fan, it was Ken Griffey Jr. He was such a pure athlete. Football wise, it was Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Those two have a great passion for the sport and their positions and I think those two are the most I identify with.
BWK: If there was a player, former or current, whom you want to mirror, who is it and why?
CW: One of the things that I would really like to become is a student of the game, become more knowledgeable about the game. In my position, there are multiple players whom I would like to mirror. I dont want to mold myself and my game after one guy but take a little from this person and a little from this person. For example, I would take the consistency of a Jonathan Ogden. He was reliable and that is a trait of a very good lineman; more accountable than flashy. His longevity as well is something that I would like to shoot for in my career. Another player at my position I would take from would be Bruce Matthews. His versatility would be the thing I take from him. Bruce was, I believe, a Pro Bowl player at two different positions; starting 3 or 4 years at a different position on the line. Now of course there are plenty of players that I am surrounded by daily with the Chargers, that I would learn from. As far as a current lineman whom I would take something from would be Joe Thomas (OT for the Cleveland Browns). I think his burst and speed is incredible. His first step out of his stance is tremendous and something to watch.
BWK: What is your most embarrassing moment?
CW: There are so many moments, but the first one that popped in my head was when I was about 8 years old and most of the time I wanted to hang out with my brother who is 5 ½ years older than me. So of course, hanging out with older kids is “very cool” right? So anyway, one day I was playing Monopoly with my brother, a few of our neighbor friends and one of their moms. I had just learned the word condominium, or at least associating it with hotels for the game. Anyway, at one point I remember cashing out my houses and saying “Yeah, put me down for new condoms.” Everybody was looking at me wondering what I just said. I didn’t even know what I said, I was just acting like I knew a big word
BWK: What is your greatest fear?
CW: I would say in the most simplest terms, that it would be death. As I got older, it wasn’t just the mere fact of dying that I feared. Let me explain this. When I was 11 years old, I remember being at home and watching re-runs of MTV shows. All of a sudden I had this weird nervous breakdown, like something that you might get going through a midlife crisis. At the moment for some reason I realized that we were all going to die someday.
BWK: Was it a certain show that you watched or something you saw on the TV that triggered this feeling?
CW: No, I think it was the fact that I was sitting around doing nothing. Like I thought to myself, “I’m wasting my life.” I am not sure what caused it, I couldn’t tell you. But I was just sitting there and it randomly hit me. I called my dad. I don’t know how a father is supposed to take that kind of call from his 11-year-old son ya know? Like he was just sitting there and now fielding a call from his son who just randomly, and through a sobbing voice, found out about the death of all humanity. As I have gotten older, my biggest fear is just…to not be. It is not the death or the dying that is my fear, it is the not existing. For example, Genghis Khan. Like his world was horrible but it was life back then. Now life is great and he wasn’t able to witness these times. That is what I mean. Like what is the world going to be and look like in 100 or 200 years? And knowing that I will not be able to witness or know what happens is my fear. Our brains can not imagine the absence of time or space, and I think that was my attempt to try and understand that. Because we don’t control our destiny and I feel that when it’s my time, it is my time. That’s the delicate balance when it comes to our own mortality.
BWK: What is your definition of happiness?
CW: To be free of sadness. Your happiness is dictated by what pleases you in life, by whatever your passion is. It is being content. If you don’t long for anything or you’re not looking at anything that would secure your place in life, you are happy. There are things left that I want to accomplish so in a micro sense, I am content and happy with where I am at. On the macro level of contentment, I know there is much more I want to experience and do which will ultimately define my overall happiness.
I would like to thank Craig for giving his time in providing this glimpse into his life. I want to wish him a very Happy Birthday today (June 20th, 2015), and wish him nothing but happiness and success. Most of us know what kind of player he is and how valuable he will be when he gets the call. I hope that with this interview people will see what an exceptional and valuable human being he is, as well as a talented football player.
Thanks for reading.
- Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
Despite the weather in America’s finest city, it is not always sunny in San Diego when it comes to Chargers’ news as of late. Although Eric Weddle has reported to mandatory minicamp, he called out the team for their lack of respect regarding a contract extension. The organization has now walked away from the negotiating table and been called out for it by members of the city of San Diego. Among those pointing the finger at Dean Spanos, Mark Fabiani and company is Mayor Faulconer.
At least the trade talks of Philip Rivers are over.
I really prefer the offseasons where we are a group of bored Charger fans, counting down the days until the regular season.
While the disastrous offseason continues in San Diego, a video surfaced the other day of a meeting in Carson where the City Clerk, Jim Dear, went on a rant about the goings on in the City of Carson and Mayor Al Robles.
Without ruining the fun, here’s the link for the video.
For those of you that would like a breakdown of the meeting and what happened in Carson, you can find one here via the dailybreeze.com.
Tom Krasovic of The San Diego Union-Tribune provides his observations from Wednesday’s minicamp at Chargers Park.
Here is a video of Carson City Clerk Jim Dear going off at a meeting recently. (After speaking with multiple people in the know, despite what seems to be an obnoxious rant, Dear is in the right for saying what he said.)
Faris Tanyos of ABC 10 News San Diego interviewed Mark Fabiani regarding the stadium situation, Mayor Faulconer and Los Angeles.
Below are some articles and updates from Chargers.com:
Eric Williams of ESPN.com writes about cornerback Patrick Robinson fitting in with the Charger defense.
Booga: There is a feeling among the fans in San Diego that the brunt of the work on finding a stadium location has been placed on the Los Angeles area (Carson and Inglewood). Although that sentiment warrants some consideration, over a dozen years have been spent trying to find a solution in San Diego. How would you respond to the fans that feel that way?
Mark: I can’t blame fans for feeling that way, because we have made such quick progress in Los Angeles in just a few months while making so little progress in San Diego even after 14 years of work.
What we’ve tried to explain to fans is that the Los Angeles and San Diego markets are significantly different. In LA, the market is large enough to finance the stadium out of revenues generated by the stadium. In our smaller market here in San Diego, that same type of financing solution simply isn’t possible.
But no amount of explaining will keep our passionate fans from feeling frustrated, and I can’t blame them. After 14 years of work, the fans have every right to expect more progress than they’ve seen here in San Diego.
Booga: To show the readers that you are a fan of the team, what is your favorite moment in Chargers’ history?
Mark: The epic, overtime playoff game against Miami in the early 1980s. The incredible performance by Kellen Winslow and the rest of the team. I’ll never forget watching that game – I still remember to this day that Don Criqui was the announcer. Criqui was old school.
Booga: After CSAG submitted its initial proposal regarding their plan for a stadium in San Diego, what were your thoughts regarding the work they put into devising a plan that they believe would be workable?
Mark: My thought after the CSAG report was released was pretty much the same thought I had when the Mayor announced the creation of CSAG: We are running out of time. With the pressure that Stan Kroenke and the Rams were putting on us in Inglewood, we had hoped to move forward quickly to get something before the voters in San Diego in 2015. We felt this way in January, when the Mayor created the task force, and we have felt this way every day since. And while we are pleased that the city has now assembled a good group of experts led by Christopher Melvin of the Nixon Peabody law firm, it sure would have been nice to have been working with these experts last year – or even starting in January, when CSAG was created. Waiting for CSAG to conclude, and only then starting with the experts on June 2, constituted a huge loss of time – time that we can’t get back.
Booga: It appears to some that Mayor Faulconer and his team have no desire to explore downtown San Diego as an option for a stadium. The Chargers and Dean Spanos seem to be interested in seeking a viable option in downtown. Has the focus turned to downtown, or is the team willing to find a solution at the Mission Valley site?
Mark: Yes, the Mayor and his allies in the hotel industry have made it absolutely clear that they have no interest in the downtown option. CSAG’s chair said that anyone who believed downtown was viable was “delusional.” And the CSAG reports lists reason after reason why the downtown option can’t work. With all of this, it’s hard to see how the downtown option can be revived, at least in the short term.
Booga: How big of a role do the hoteliers have in deciding whether or not a stadium could be built in downtown?
Mark: The hoteliers call the shots on many of the important issues facing the City of San Diego, and they certainly do so on the possibility of a combined stadium-convention center downtown.
Of course, most people don’t follow the machinations of the hoteliers very closely. But if they did, they would be very surprised at what they would see.
For example, for years the hoteliers have insisted that any expansion to the Convention Center be contiguous – which means that the expansion must be connected to the existing facility. The hotel lobby said that a contiguous expansion was essential because that’s what the customers of the Convention Center wanted.
Of course, the hoteliers’ plan for accomplishing this has been thwarted by the courts; the legally dubious taxing mechanism proposed for the project was decisively struck down by the courts, and several environmental challenges against the project are still pending. Through that whole process, more than four years and $10 million in taxpayer money were wasted – only for the city to come up empty in the end.
So, at the behest of the hoteliers, the City is paying for another study of Convention Center customers to re-evaluate the idea of a contiguous expansion. And I’m going to go way out on a limb here and predict that this study is going to show – as Gomer Pyle used to say on The Andy Griffith Show – “surprise, surprise, surprise!” It turns out that our customers have changed their minds and now want a non-contiguous expansion after all! And when this happens, I bet no one will call out the hoteliers for carrying out this elaborate but obvious ruse.
Booga: The NFL owners and the NFL play a bigger role than most are aware of involving the stadium issue. Can you explain to the fans what their impact means to achieving a resolution to keep the Chargers in San Diego?
Mark: Most fans probably know at this point that the relocation of an NFL franchise from one city to another requires a three-fourths vote of the owners – 24 votes out of 32 owners. From the start of our new stadium efforts 14 years ago, we have always shown the utmost respect for the process established by the NFL’s owners. We have done everything possible to keep the League fully informed every step of the way, and the requirements imposed on us by the NFL’s relocation guidelines have been at the top of our minds throughout. In short, we have been very clear on this fundamental point: We will respect the decisions made by the owners about Los Angeles and San Diego.
Booga: Can you explain how the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) affects the situation via the courts?
Mark: CEQA law is pretty turgid stuff, and we only know so much about it because we have paid millions of dollars in legal fees over the years to understand it – because unless you understand CEQA, you will never be able to complete a major construction project in California.
So, despite the complicated nature of the topic, I will take a shot here at summarizing what CEQA means, and why it presents such a challenge for us right now here in San Diego. But readers, please be warned: Prepare to be bored.
CEQA is the landmark California state law requiring that all state and local legislative bodies fully account for the environmental impacts of proposed legislation before the legislation is passed.
For major projects, such as an NFL stadium and a possible ancillary development, CEQA requires that the legislative body conduct a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), submit the EIR for public comment, incorporate or otherwise account for the public’s input, and then certify the EIR. Once the EIR is certified, the legislative body is free to adopt the project. At that point, for controversial projects in California, complaining parties typically sue to challenge the adequacy of the EIR, and on complex projects the resulting litigation can stall the project and consume several years of time.
What does all of this have to do with the City of San Diego and the Chargers?
An action by the City Council to place a stadium ballot measure before the voters is a legislative act and so must be cleared under CEQA. The standard method of accomplishing this for a complicated stadium project is to conduct a full-blown EIR – a process that usually takes from 12-to-18 months from start to certification by the City Council.
Even though the Mayor Faulconer took office in 2014, the city’s leaders have as of this date not even begun an EIR on the stadium project. Clearly, then there is no longer the opportunity to complete a legitimate, legally defensible EIR in time for a 2015 vote.
To get around this problem, the city has proposed, in three formal negotiating sessions and many informal conversations, four means of circumventing the traditional CEQA EIR process:
- Legislative Exemption: At our first formal negotiation session, the city’s team said that the only way to clear CEQA in time for a 2015 vote was to persuade the California state legislature to pass a law exempting the entire stadium/ancillary development project from CEQA. No other project of this type in California has ever received such a complete exemption, and we do not believe that such an exemption will be forthcoming from the legislation in this case. In any event, an exemption passed by the state legislature in 2015 would not take legal effect until next year and so would not apply to any 2015 ballot measure.
- Categorical Exemption: There are exemptions in CEQA for some projects. At our second formal meeting, the city argued that the stadium project was exempt from CEQA because we would simply be “replacing” the old stadium with the new stadium. This argument received serious legal scrutiny both by our legal team and by experts quoted in the media, and a consensus quickly emerged that this option was legally dubious.
- Reliance on 1983 Stadium Expansion EIR: At our third formal negotiating session, the city proposed to create an addendum for a 1983 EIR that was prepared for a 7,000 seat expansion of the stadium. The city maintained that the addendum could be prepared quickly and would not be subject to public review. Once again, we concluded based on all the advice we received that this approach was legally invalid because the 1983 EIR – which is all of 20-odd pages long – had nothing to do with the construction of a brand new stadium, the demolition of an old stadium, and an ancillary development. Therefore, it would not be possible to create a legally sufficient addendum that would pass CEQA muster.
- Quickie EIR: When it became clear that the city’s first three ideas for circumventing CEQA were untenable, the city proposed to conduct an EIR in time for a January 2016 ballot measure. To accomplish this, the city would have to begin the EIR immediately, spend roughly one month writing the EIR, begin the 45 day public review process, and then take time to account for the public comments – all prior to the mid-October date when the City Council would have to vote to place the matter on the January 2016 ballot.
Preparing a full EIR for a project of this magnitude in such a short period of time is unprecedented in California, and the resulting product would be so slipshod that plaintiffs’ lawyers would have an easy time having the document invalidated by the courts.
Booga: How did the Carson and Inglewood projects avoid the CEQA process?
Mark: Citizen’s initiatives are not subject to CEQA, and both the Carson and Inglewood stadiums were entitled through citizen’s initiatives.
A successful citizen’s initiative must be sponsored by a group or entity that has the financial resources to draft the initiative, gather signatures, and manage an effective election campaign. Starting from scratch today, the soonest a citizen’s initiative could reach the ballot in San Diego, if everything went smoothly, would be April or May of 2016. Finally, there is now a move in the California legislature to close the CEQA loophole that allows citizen’s initiatives of this type, and it is quite possible, even likely, that the law will be changed before there could be a vote on a citizen’s initiative in San Diego.
Booga: Why can’t an EIR be done in a month or two, if the city is prepared to throw significant resources behind the effort?
Mark: There is an entire class of plaintiffs’ lawyers in California that exists solely to challenge EIRs and then collect legal fees from taxpayers when the lawyers win in court. No EIR is legally bulletproof, but to get as close as possible to that goal would require 12-to-18 months of serious work. It is simply not possible to do the necessary work in a month or two.
Booga: San Diego’s mayor believes that the options identified for circumventing CEQA are legally defensible. Why isn’t that good enough for the Chargers?
Mark: The city has a very different tolerance for risk than the Chargers do. For example, four years ago the current city leadership proposed a novel way of increasing the hotel tax, without a public vote, to finance a convention center expansion. Many observers, including the Chargers, said at the time that the tax measure was illegal and that it would be struck down by the courts. The city’s leadership decided to move forward nonetheless and take their chances in court. Now, five years and $10 million in taxpayer money later, the tax was declared illegal by a unanimous court of appeals and the city has no Convention Center expansion plan.
The Chargers are in no position to roll the legal dice in this way. The team would be expected to fund, at a cost of perhaps up to ten million dollars, the election campaign, the vote, and the subsequent legal defense of the vote. And even if the team prevails at the ballot box, the project would be stalled by years of litigation which the team and city are likely to lose in the end.
Booga: Why must there be a public vote? Can’t the City Council simply adopt the stadium funding plan?
Mark: A City Council vote on a stadium plan would still require CEQA clearance and a full EIR.
In addition, a City Council vote would be subject to the California referendum process, which allows citizens who don’t like what the Council did to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot a referendum invalidating the City Council’s action. Opponents of taxpayer funding for a stadium in San Diego would almost certainly gather sufficient signatures to qualify a referendum for the ballot. The entire project would then be put on hold until the next regularly scheduled election. In short, there will likely be a public vote on the stadium project one way or another. The only questions are how the matter reaches the ballot, and when.
Finally, the Mayor and a majority of the City Council and County Board of Supervisors have insisted that there be a public vote on the expenditure of any public money for a stadium. These political leaders are unlikely to reverse their positions.
Booga: The City and County of San Diego are committed to spending several hundred million dollars of public money on a stadium project. Isn’t that significant?
Mark: The City and County haven’t committed anything yet. Any expenditure of public funds would have to be approved by voters. In the case of a tax increase, a two-thirds vote of approval is required under California law.
In addition, even if there is voter approval, the City and County of San Diego are both proposing to finance the project with money from their General Funds. In the City’s case, this would likely require the sale of Lease Revenue Bonds; in the County’s case, this would require several different appropriations over a period of years. Taking money from the General Fund to pay for a stadium will generate a vigorous public backlash and legal challenges by those who believe that vital services — such as police, fire and public pensions — will be imperiled by this funding mechanism.
Booga: How badly do you want the Chargers to remain in San Diego? Or are you strictly focused on what provides the Spanos’ family with the most lucrative deal possible?
Mark: If Dean and his family didn’t want the Chargers to remain in San Diego, we would have given up long ago. There have been stadium options available in LA going back to 2003, when AEG was proposing a stadium near Staples Center. Ed Roski’s stadium site in the City of Industry was fully entitled in 2008. AEG’s Farmers Field site has been fully entitled for years now as well. If the Spanos family wanted to move the Chargers out of San Diego, the team would have been gone a long time ago.
Booga: There has been a dark picture painted of you via the media and other outlets. It would appear that some do not understand that you have a job to do, and that you must do your due diligence to weigh all options in an effort to find a successful model for a stadium. How do you respond to the critics? Or do you?
Mark: We knew we would create plenty of controversy in January that when we decided to increase the pressure on San Diego political leaders to act. But we felt we had no choice, because of the move that the Rams made in Inglewood.
So, when I speak to fans, or e-mail with them, I try to ask a simple question: If we had simply remained quiet and allowed CSAG’s work to continue until the Fall – which is the schedule that the Mayor first proposed – would our chances of solving this problem have increased, or decreased? My strong view is that if we had simply said nothing, right now we would all be sitting around and waiting for CSAG to finish work in October or November – just as the NFL owners are in the process of considering the Los Angeles question.
Of course, fans have every right to their own opinions about the wisdom of our strategy, and I have no business trying to talk them out of those opinions. But I’m comfortable with the new strategy that we pursued once our hand was forced in January by events in Inglewood.
Booga: In closing, do you have anything to say to the fans of the San Diego Chargers that gives them a true sense of hope when it comes to their team staying put in America’s finest city?
Mark: Anyone who tells you how the Los Angeles relocation process is going to play out at the NFL ownership level is engaging in pure speculation. There isn’t anyone who truly knows how the situation will ultimately resolve itself. And whatever resolution occurs is going to be impacted by important events that have not yet occurred.
Finally, a great deal might depend on how the San Diego political leadership decides to treat the NFL and the Chargers going forward. The good news here is that the city has finally assembled experts in stadium finance who might, we hope, advise a different, more sophisticated approach to the Chargers and to the NFL than the one that some of the city’s political leaders have taken so far.
I am going to get right to the point. A press release was sent out today regarding the Chargers’ thoughts about a December 2015 vote being put in place to keep the Chargers in San Diego. I have been fortunate enough to be in contact with Mark Fabiani, special counsel to the Chargers, about this topic.
Here’s the press release:
Chargers release statement on today’s negotiations with city pic.twitter.com/ydLQuXVxLE
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) June 16, 2015
Below he provides the reasoning behind why the Chargers and their team don’t believe that a December 2015 vote will work.
By the end of our meetings with the city and county negotiators today, and then with our attorneys afterwards, we came to the conclusion that there was no legally viable way to make a 2015 ballot. It was really that simple. We ran through all of the ideas we had, and that the city ‘s experts had, and concluded that it just wasn’t viable.
Marty Caswell of the Mighty1090 interviews cornerback Brandon Flowers during OTAs.
Fans start a petition asking for the removal of Mark Fabiani from the stadium negotiations with the City and County of San Diego.
Here are four links to Chargers.com articles involving LaDainian Tomlinson’s career:
Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune writes about the Chargers retiring Tomlinson’s number.
For the third year in a row I have had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Rank of NFL Fantasy Live and NFL.com. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to fantasy football, high-quality music and Star Wars, he is a really cool, down-to-earth guy.
I met Adam in New York at the 2013 NFL draft. I have interviewed him a handful of times over the last three years and he has yet to disappoint.
Booga: It is that time of year again. It’s time for all of the fantasy football players to get that much-needed info to build a Championship fantasy team. With the No. 1 pick, in this year’s fantasy football draft, fans should select?
Adam: I’m going with Eddie Lacy. Too often, we as fantasy enthusiasts can be reactionary. But it’s going to be important to be proactive here, so I like Lacy a ton. He had some injuries last year and ran o.k. early in the season. But he averaged close to five-yards per carry during the last 10 games of the season. And he plays in one of the top offenses in the league, which is nice.
But perhaps the biggest reason why I like him over a player like Adrian Peterson (who seems to be the consensus No. 1) is that he’s involved in the passing game. He established a career-high in touchdown receptions last year and I see him taking a bigger role for the coming year.
Jamaal Charles is another candidate for the top spot, but dang, he’s the only guy in Kansas City. He gets bullied way too much by opposing defenses. I hope Jeremy Maclin helps him out a little bit, but dang, I get bummed for the guy.
So I’m going Lacy. And if I’m at the end of the first-round, I’m thinking about going WR (like Antonio Brown).
Booga: I asked the fans to submit some fantasy football questions. Here is one from Thomas Powell. “With the Chargers adding to their offensive line, and, especially, the drafting of Melvin Gordon, how will this affect Philip Rivers’ numbers as a fantasy quarterback?”
Adam: Rivers average draft position is in the ninth round. That’s a tremendous value for a guy I have a lot of confidence in.
Everybody is going to pass on him in drafts because they fear his best days are behind him. But as long as Chris Watt continues to develop, Rivers will have another fine season. To me, that’s the key. Making sure that center position is all square and ready to go. People outside of San Diego don’t get how great Nick Hardwick was. It’s a pretty jarring transition to go to a new center.
Booga: Another fan question. Nick Millican asks, “Can you please rank your top-five rookie fantasy players for the upcoming season?”
Adam: This is an interesting one. I think the key to this is, who is the best fantasy running back out there. And I really like T.J. Yeldon in Jacksonville. I know, the Jaguars get besmirched a lot by NFL fans. But they are a pretty fun team. As a former Chargers season ticket holder, I can vouch for the Jags fans. They are a lot like you. Laid-back, but passionate and better fans than they (and you) are given credit for. Why do people think just because we have nice weather, we can’t care about the NFL?
But I digress because none of that really has anything to do with why Yeldon will be good. I like his situation down in Duval County. The Jaguars have made some improvements on the offensive line with Jeremy Parnell and Steve Wisniewski. Plus the team is going to want to run the ball an absolute ton. Which will be great. Yeldon doesn’t have the break-away speed, but he can be that Emmitt Smith-type of runner. I’m pretty high. Oh, and I’m pretty high on him.
After that I like Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Todd Gurley (he’s going to be a stud at the end of the season) and Ameer Abdullah. I met Ameer at the Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles (I know, I’ll stop name-dropping at some point. Actually, I probably won’t), and I really liked him. I have this irrational thing where I’m drawn to people who are pretty cool.
Remember that when I (expletive) can Amari Cooper. Actually, if you want to mix in a rookie receiver, Kevin White is pretty damn good. Cooper’s ADP is the fifth round, White is the seventh. Nelson Agholor is right around the seventh. I’d take both of those guys over Cooper.
And for the record. If the unthinkable happens and the Chargers fold, and a new team springs up in Los Angeles called the “Chargers” (which is weird because the same stuff happened with the Rams and St. Louis), I would endorse you becoming Jaguars fans. They are cool fans. But let’s not think about such awful things.
Booga: It seems as though we have all been waiting for Ladarius Green to break out and make an impact at the tight end position, both on the field and in fantasy football. Is this the year that Green should be slotted as high as past expectations would see him drafted?
Adam: It seems like we’ve waited years for Laddy Green to make his impact. Enough to make me wonder if it’s ever going to happen. So I would end up taking a pass on him. I don’t like to stockpile tight ends anyway, and so I feel like he’s out of the Top 12 right now. I know Mike McCoy has said he wants to get Green more involved in the offense. But I have to put it in the “believe it when I see it” category.
Booga: With the turmoil surrounding Adrian Peterson and his time with the Vikings, is he still a player that should be drafted in the top three?
Adam: Oh yeah. Like I mentioned previously, Eddie Lacy is my top guy. I feel good about that. Peterson is my No. 2. He’s motivated. And he has a great coach in Minnesota. Look at some of the running backs Norv Turner has worked with (as an offensive coordinator). I mean, as awful as Norv can be as a head coach, dude is an exceptional offensive coordinator (which is why he continues to get these head coaching gigs).
I still can’t believe the Chargers passed on Rex Ryan to hire Turner. I know Ryan’s time in New York ended poorly, but he didn’t have a quarterback like Philip Rivers, either. I say he would have brought a fresh attitude to the Chargers during his tenure and I surmise he would still be the coach here in San Diego. Or down there in San Diego. I’m in Los Angeles right now, but you get my drift.
Seriously, why do the Chargers want to come to L.A.? San Diego is so much better. I’m telling you, I would take a gig in San Diego if the Chargers are committed to stay. I’ll go work for Fox Sports San Diego, do a show on XTRA 1360. I’d go to the Viejas Arena and support the Aztecs unless they are playing the Titans or Rebels. I’m in! But why does San Diego want out? I blame the Padres for building a beautiful stadium, and then not having a competitive team for so long.
But there I go again.
Booga: Chargers wideout Keenan Allen, despite having more receptions last year than he did as a rookie, experienced a sophomore slump of sorts. Where do you believe he should go in fantasy drafts? Is he only reliable in PPR leagues?
Adam: Allen is going to be a great value this season. I’m ready to kind of write-off last year, not so much as a sophomore slump, but as a bad season for the team in general. There was a turnstile at the center position. Danny Woodhead and a host of running backs got hurt. The team was a mess. So everybody suffered accordingly. Allen unfairly gets criticized because people over-drafted him and were burned. That’s the way fantasy enthusiasts operate. Hell, I’m still a little wary to draft Adrian Peterson because he nearly wrecked my team last year.
But I was surprised to see his ADP was in round five so far. Realize the only people doing drafts right now are the marks, the inside people who are super serious about fantasy. If those guys (and gals) are serious about Keenan, I feel very good about it.
Booga: Antonio Gates surprised so many last season, recording 12 receiving touchdowns. What should fans expect for his fantasy output in 2015?
Adam: I honestly don’t know, dude. I mean, you can continue to predict a drop-off for Gates every year and you will be right at some point. He has an ADP of the late-ninth round right now, which is a pretty good. I can live with that. If you are the type who likes to wait for a tight end and see what happens, that’s a good move. You can handcuff him with Laddy.
But if I’m projecting out for Gates, I can see about eight touchdowns. He’s still going to be a valuable asset for your team. He might not get double-digit touchdowns again, but he’s going to be good.
Booga: How does the trading of LeSean McCoy to the Bills affect his fantasy status? Is it safe to say that he will thrive in Buffalo’s offense?
Adam: I liked this deal. It was a good move for Buffalo. (And another fine set of football fans, too.) I really like the volume he’s going to get with the Bills. Ryan is going to want to run the ball a ton. Or more to the point, he’s going to have to run the ball a ton. And you’ve all read the reports the Bills want McCoy to lead the league in carries, much like DeMarco Murray did last year. So that’s encouraging.
The only downside is Fred Jackson. The guy always seems to find a way to weasel into our fantasy hearts. Watch, McCoy will end up getting dinged a little bit and here comes Action Jackson to get like 200 touches. It’s uncanny.
Also, McCoy was kind of salty because I gave him a fun little ribbing during the Madden Bowl. Geeze, dude. Why do you have to be so sensitive? He can’t take a little good-natured ribbing?
Booga: Odell Beckham Jr. posted phenomenal receiving numbers as a rookie in only 12 games played. If Beckham Jr. plays all 16 games, where do you believe he should be drafted?
Adam: OBJ’s rookie season was kind of like Guns-n-Roses debut album, “Appetite for Destruction”. You might want to Google that, kids. It was a big hit when I was a young boy, and trust me, it was huge. But the follow-up, well, not so much. I mean, I could go through tracks on the Illusion albums and find some hits. But it’s never going to be Appetite.
So it’s hard to expect OBJ to reach similar type numbers this year. Especially if he’s got this hamstring problem that lingers. Still, though. I love OBJ. Loved him at LSU. I’m probably going to overspend for him. Just because he was so amazing last year. Eli Manning is going to have a full offseason to get familiar with Ben McAdoo’s offense. So I see some big things. Plus Victor Cruz should help ease the pressure off OBJ a little bit, too. Hell, if the Giants can establish a ground game, he can be even better.
Great, now my expectations for OBJ are similar to the expectations I had for “Chinese Democracy” I just hope I don’t have to wait more than a decade for it.
And for the record, “Chinese Democracy” is a pretty great album.
Booga: Last year’s rushing leader, DeMarco Murray, crushed opposing ball carriers by almost 500 yards rushing in 2014. Now that he is in Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, sharing the workload with newly acquired Ryan Mathews and former-Charger Darren Sproles, what type of fantasy impact do you think he’ll have in 2015? Where should he be drafted?
Adam: He currently holds an ADP of the second-round, just ahead of C.J. Anderson and Jeremy Hill. And I would take both of those guys ahead of Murray. I just fear a guy who was unhealthy for most of his career, suddenly found a magic elixir that made him healthy enough to run behind the best offensive line in the game. Now he’s got to share the load with your buddy Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles (another one of your buddies!), so there might not be enough of an opportunity for him.
At least he will be motivated in two games against the Cowboys! So there is that. But I’m going to find another direction in Round 2, and if he somehow makes it to the third round and he’s sitting there? Fine. But I don’t anticipate that.
Booga: Charger fans everywhere, myself included, are extremely excited about the drafting of running back Melvin Gordon. With a big, run-blocking offensive line, what are your expectations for the rookie runner out of Wisconsin?
Adam:Remember when I said that I have this thing where I will always lean towards the guys I meet in person and favor them? I really liked Melvin when I met him. So that is either good or bad depending on your perspective.
The big thing is the offensive line. Can it play well enough to open the holes for Gordon? The sizeable holes he enjoyed at Wisconsin? If the o-line plays well, Gordon will be the top rookie running back. The team is already trying to work him into the passing game. Listen to McCoy, he talked about pass protection when it came to Gordon and that’s a huge sign. So take this as a good thing.
Booga: In an effort to give you a bit of bragging rights, how many fantasy football championships do you own? And, please, be specific when it comes the ‘ships that were obtained among your peers at the NFL Network and NFL.com.
Adam: Oh stop, it’s not about the championships. I’ve done great on the NFL Fantasy Live League. I’m the Patriots of that league, replete with pushing the rules. But there is one league that continues to hang over my head. It is a keeper league. Over the last five years, my team has been: Tom Brady/Andrew Luck, Peterson, Forte, Le’Veon Bell, Alfred Morris, Brandon Marshall, Josh Gordon (his good year) and Rob Gronkowski. I never won that league. I always lose on the worst circumstances. Two years ago, I lost to the guy who played Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith that one week against the Raiders. I was going to win last year because I did pretty well with my waiver wire guys (I had CJ and Hill), but Luck put up a donut. It’s the best because I can never win it.
I would like to thank Adam for taking the time to do this interview. As expected, his responses were intelligent and humorous. You can follow him on Twitter @adamrank and you can catch him on NFL Fantasy Live on NFL Network.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Vincent Bonsignore of insidesocal.com gives some insight of what to expect from Wednesday’s meeting regarding an NFL team in Los Angeles.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com highlights the top-10 takeaways from Corey Liuget signing a long-term contract extension with the Chargers.
Here are some stories from The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Nick Canepa – Fabiani still defends team, criticizes city
Michael Gehlken – Chargers to honor LaDainian Tomlinson
Kevin Acee – City to call another stadium audible
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com projects the 2015 statistical numbers for rookie running back Melvin Gordon.