That truly is the question in the minds and hearts of so many loyal San Diego Chargers fans. Should I continue to show my loyalty and spend my money on a team that just tore my heart out and moved to Los Angeles of all places? Honestly, I can’t answer that for you. It is an individual decision that there is no wrong answer to. That’s right, I said there is no wrong answer. Despite the personal attacks against fans who are leaving the team and fans who are sticking with them, I say to you that everyone has the right to chose where they give their love and loyalty. All I can do is walk through the process that I went through and see if that helps you make the right decision for you.
You many have noticed that I didn’t write this article last week when the Chargers announced, via online letter (classless), that they are in fact leaving San Diego after 56 years. I was hurt. I was angry. I had a million thoughts in my mind that I had to sort through in order to figure out my next move. Who am I loyal to; the Chargers or San Diego? Whose fault is it? Do I hate Dean Spanos enough to change my loyalties to another team, or to no team at all? Let’s take a look at how I answered those three questions and see what I came up with. Maybe it will help you decide as well, if you are on the fence.
Who am I loyal to; the Chargers or San Diego? That was a very difficult question for me to answer. I was born in San Diego in 1966. I continued to live there for the next 20 years, before moving away to go to college in San Bernardino, California. After college I moved around the Inland Empire and finally settled in the Temecula area, about an hour North of San Diego. Until recently, my parents lived in San Diego as well as both of my sisters and their families. So, even though I no longer lived down there, I had a lot of ties to the area and found myself visiting multiple times a year. Recently, my father passed away, my mother moved to Oregon, and one of my sisters moved to Oregon as well. The times, they are a changing.
I started rooting for the Chargers around the time Don Coryell took over in 1978. He brought an exciting brand of football that took me away from my early bandwagon ways. The final act that solidified my support and loyalty to the Bolts was the Holy Roller. I won’t insult you by telling you what that play was. I’m sure you already know. If not, go to youtube and check it out yourself. For the record, IT WAS AN INCOMPLETE FORWARD PASS!!!! Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, I was so upset that a team could get away with that kind of crap against my cities team. It was just wrong and I felt like my family and my city were cheated out of a chance at the playoffs and possibly making history. Once and for all, I was a Chargers fan for life! Or, was I a San Diego fan?
As the years went by, I found that anything San Diego was my favorite. I was a fan of all the local teams. I was passionate about the Padres. I liked the Clippers and the Aztecs. I wasn’t much into Nascar, or golf, or tennis or anything else, but if there was a San Diegan competing, I wanted that athlete to win. For the most part, I still do.
Then the Clippers moved to Los Angeles. What was I to do? Honestly, I was so tired of them losing that I took the opportunity to bail on Donald Sterling and the Clippers and changed my loyalty to the Lakers. As time rolled on, I experienced several championships and was happy about all of them. Happy….not ecstatic. I never reached the level of excitement that I believe I would have felt with a San Diego championship. Would I have enjoyed a Clippers championship in LA as much, or more, than a Lakers win? Hard to says, since the Clippers have not yet won anything.
So, my history shows that my love and loyalty is with San Diego, but I am willing to embrace an LA team if that is the only option I have. That bodes well for the Chargers.
Whose fault is it? That answer is easy. It is EVERYONE’S fault! I would say that the Chargers ownership shoulders the majority of the blame. Followed closely by the City of San Diego and the embarrassing list of Mayors and city councilmen that had been tasked with the job of working something out with the City’s best argument for being a “major league city”. Now that the Chargers are gone, the Padres are the only major league team in town. Here’s hoping that the Padres youth movement can bring a sense of pride back to the city and it’s fans. That may take several years, however. But I digress.
As I said, Dean Spanos shoulders most of the blame. One of his biggest mistakes was the hiring of attorney Mark Fabiani. You see, Fabiani was a bully. It was his way or the highway for years. He insulted local politicians and fans alike. In my opinion, Fabiani did more to drive a wedge between the team and local government than anyone else involved. All along, Spanos could have put an end to what was obviously a bad strategy, but allowed Fabiani to be the tough guy. Here is a tip for anyone reading this who would like to get several hundred million dollars from the city. Are you ready? Here it is. Don’t be an ass! Sit down with officials and actually try to work something out. Yes, the Chargers tried in earnest for several years to no avail. But in recent years, it became more and more evident that the only way Spanos was staying in town was if he had the stadium handed to him on a silver platter. Once he was granted the option to move to LA, his entire focus became, how can we leave without looking bad? He failed at that too.
Dean’s bright idea was to ignore local government, create a measure that had no prayer of passing, and then acting disappointed when it didn’t pass. He even went so far as to say if the approval percentage had been over 50%, he would have committed to San Diego. Perhaps if he had shared that little tidbit of information, more people would have given it their stamp of approval? We’ll never know.
Looking past the government officials of years gone bye, let’s take a look at Mayor Faulconer. Some people seem to be giving him a pass, since he gave his endorsement of Measure C. But let us take a closer look. During the rather lack-luster campaign that the Chargers were rolling out before the vote, Mayor Faulconer was nowhere to be found. He had no comment and was no help. Finally, with just three weeks left, he said that he ironed out some details and now supports the measure. Three whole weeks. To top it all off, the Chargers approached the Mayor with a request that he do a commercial showing everyone that he was in support. That kind of coverage could swing a decent percentage of voters who may not be paying attention to the sports talk shows or pages. The Mayor refused to do the spot and went back into his hole. Obviously, this was his was of trying to get rid of the Chargers without looking at fault.
I tried to give Faulconer the benefit of the doubt until he immediately announced that he would be putting a measure on the 2018 ballot that would expand the convention center. Why is that concerning? Because he says that project will be funded by a four percent increase in the TOT tax. That is the same plan that the Chargers had to pay or their “convadium”. That explains why the Mayor took so long to get on board with Measure C. He needed that money for his own plan. Maybe the hoteliers will be behind this plan. (Don’t even get me started on them)
Even the fans carry a little of the blame. Sure, they could have voted for Measure C and the Chargers would have stayed. But, the county was not allowed to vote and that took a toll on the number of fans involved. Also, there were serious concerns on how the measure would effect traffic downtown. The only real negative toward the fans is the large number of fans who have taken to selling their tickets online. Those sales caused The Q to look like an away game many weeks of the season for the last several years. That was topped off by approximately 55,000 Raiders fans infesting Qualcomm shortly before Dean Spanos had to make his decision. Now let me backtrack a little by saying, if the Chargers had put a winning product on the field, the seats would have been filled with Chargers fans.
Do I hate Dean Spanos enough to change my loyalties to another team, or to no team at all? Time will tell, but I don’t think so. Yes, I have no love for Dean Spanos. I think it is terrible that he tore the fabric of San Diego apart by taking his team away. I do give him credit for bringing this problem up 16 years ago, only to be ignored by the city. I give him credit for bring multiple plans to the city in hopes of getting some cooperation, to no avail. That being said, I don’t believe that he wanted to stay any longer and wanted a way out.
Let’s look at the choices. Do I want to start rooting for another team? Well, who would that team be? When the Clippers left, I rooted for the next closest NBA team. If I did that, I would be rooting for the Rams. I can’t justify rooting for the Rams after what they did to their St. Louis fans, and their Orange County fans before that. They are not the poster children for loyalty to a city.
So what other California teams are there? The Forty-Niners come to mind. No. Just, no.
Finally, there is the Oakland Raiders. Honestly, there is no way in hell that I will become a Raiders fan. They are the mortal enemy of the Chargers and they too are not loyal to their cities. They move or threaten to move with the regularity of a healthy man on Miralax. Not to mention that they are planning a move to Las Vegas as we speak.
How about rooting for a team out of state? The Cardinals aren’t far away! This is true. However, I couldn’t give a flying rat’s behind about the Cardinals. They too left St. Louis in my lifetime, they are not even in California, and I won’t be able to listen to local talk radio discus my team. Doesn’t sound very fun to me. Then again, that would give me an excuse to stop listening to that clown Dan Sileo in the mornings. Again, I digress.
Of course there are traditional winning franchises like the Patriots and the Steelers. Again, they just don’t move the needle for me. Great franchises, but no connection. Moving on.
That leaves me two options. Giving up on the NFL, or staying with the Chargers. Personally, I really enjoy NFL football. Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should stand on higher moral ground and not support a league that obviously is only about their profit and doesn’t care about the fans or the safety of their players. I suppose that is all true, but dang-it, I really enjoy NFL football and I really enjoy having a team to root for.
It has become obvious to me that the only logical answer I have for myself is to stick with the Chargers. Yes, the Los Angeles Chargers. Who knows? I may change my mind when the games start, but as for now, I’m supporting my team. Let’s be honest, there has never once been a day where I have uttered the words, “I hope they win this one for Dean!” I am here for the players and my own enjoyment. That’s supposed to be what this is all about. It is a game that is designed to be enjoyed by the masses. I personally cannot enjoy it without a dog in the fight (my apologies to Michael Vick).
Getting back to where I started this therapy session, your choice may be different and that is okay too. To each his/her own. Good luck with whomever you choose to follow (except the Raiders).
Thanks for reading. Comment below and tell me where your loyalty lies. #GOCHARGERS