The Chargers broke countless hearts when they finally announced they would be relocating to Los Angeles, leaving the residents of San Diego in shock, confused and heartbroken.
Some fans decided to decided to follow them to their new locale, while others decided not to support such horrible ownership and what many believe to be an incredibly poor decision.
I have with me a good friend and fellow staff writer who’s made the decision of choosing a new team, Chris Hoke.
Chris: First off, thank you for conducting this interview. It’s been a long six months since greed and selfishness took my hometown team away from me, leaving me to wonder where the fuck do I go from here.
Charlie: No problem at all! I would like to briefly go over your time as a Chargers fan and ask you a couple of questions about the process of being a free agent fan, so to speak. How long were you a fan of the Bolts? Was it a born-to-now thing? This move must’ve really crushed you.
Chris: I was Chargers fan for 25 brutal seasons. Basically since I was a little kid I grew up watching them with my grandpa and my brother. It become a Sunday tradition in our household. No matter how bad the bolts were my brother and I stuck our team.
Hearing about the bolts was definitively soul crushing. I’ve seen the Chargers get killed in their only Super Bowl appearance. I was there for LT’s last game as a Charger. I was there when the Jets beat us in the playoffs in 2010. I thought those were soul crushing experiences. They pale in comparison to losing your hometown team. It’s like your brother died. I would never wish this kind of pain on any fan. It’s truly been one of hardest times in my life.
Charlie: I’m sure if we take the Spanos family out of the picture, were looking at a much different outcome in this whole process. So that being said, what was a couple of moments being a fan that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life? There’s got to be a part of you that wants to see the players still succeed and do great, right?
Chris: As much as I despise Dean, If you took the Spanos’ out of the picture maybe things would’ve worked out. It wasn’t just his fault though the city of San Diego needs to take some of the blame. For the last 15 years both sides did this dance. Dean would come up with plans to renovate Jack Murphy Stadium or build a multi-purpose center downtown, which would host a number of sporting events. Each time Dean would do this the city turned him down; finally capping it off last November when Proposition C failed miserably. The city and Mayor Faulconer basically left Dean no choice but move the Chargers. So no, I don’t believe the end would be better without Dean. San Diego losing the Chargers was inevitable.
I don’t know if you ever went to any Chargers home games in the Q Charlie, but when the Chargers were winning there was blue and gold everywhere. This city was buzzing. One of the things I will miss about home games was the calm before the storm. The music would start and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” would hit. Then smoke would filter out of the Chargers helmet then the cannon would fire and then the starting units would be introduced. You just got that electric nervous feeling almost like you were in the game. Those nerves would be turned up even more if it was a rivalry or a playoff game.
As far as moments I’ll cherish, every game I went to was with my brother. Win or lose we were always there next to each other for support. The shared experience of moments and memories like that were enough to last a lifetime.
If I had to go back and pick one game. It would be the Colts wildcard game in 2010 when Darren Sproles scored in overtime in one of the craziest overtime endings ever. Shocking the then Super Bowl Champion Colts.
Football and the Chargers were more to me than money or the games I went to. It was family. Not Dean, not Roger Goodell or anybody will ever take that from me. Family is forever and I will forever be a San DIego Chargers fan!
As far as the players, some have handled this in a way where they can put the true San Diego Chargers fan into their perspective. Take Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for example. They have both expressed how much San Diego meant to not only their careers but to their families as well. For those players I will cheer for them and hope they finish their careers on top.
Now for those players such as Keenan Allen, who by the way was caught wearing a Raiders hat after he was drafted; we know which team he gets soft against. Allen wasted no time burning his bridge with SD fans by tweeting how excited he was to play in LA only moments after news broke about the Bolts departing from San Diego. I would say that in my eyes those players don’t exist to me and that true Chargers fans should question those players loyalty to not only the team but to us the fans.
Charlie: Safe to say that Darren Sproles game winner has to be a top-3 moment in every Chargers’ fan memory. It was amazing. Still gives me goosebumps to this day watching it and seeing Peytons’ helpless face. *Devilish Laugh*. Now that you’re a free agent fan, have you narrowed it down to any teams in specific that you are gonna cheer for from here on out? if so, how did it come down to them? Whats the process on picking a new team? What plays a big role in attracting you to become a fan? I’m sure given this experience, a huge part has to be ownership.
Chris: I have narrowed it down to three teams. Those teams being the:
Green Bay Packers
For me it came down to several reasons,
First of all with the Packers, I’ve always loved the Packers and the history that comes with this franchise. Not to mention they are publicly owned. The team cares about its fan base. It would also be nice to be a fan of a franchise that knows what it takes to get to a Super Bowl and win.
Secondly, the Philadelphia Eagles. One of the oldest franchises in the league. Like my former team the Eagles have struggled to win a championship. They have had two Super Bowl appearances. One was in 1981 where they lost to the underdog Oakland Raiders. The second loss came in 2004 at the hands of the New England Patriots. Why the Eagles though? My best friend comes from Philly. So I’ve already become a secondary Eagles fan. Since I am now a free agent the idea of being a part of a fan base that is loyal to its team no matter what would be a breath of fresh air compared to the fair weather fan base of the San Diego/LA Chargers.
Lastly, the Chargers. I still can’t call them that disgusting cities name because really it makes me sick to my stomach. It’s like the New York Yankees moving to New Jersey and becoming the New Jersey Yankees. It would make a New Yorker sick. I digress though many may call me a hypocrite since I said “I would never cheer for a team in that city.” However, the Chargers have been all I have known for 25 years. I’ve grown up with this team. They are my blood. They are the bond that my brother and I have always shared. The Chargers are like family to me. If I were to pick them it would be not because of that shithead of an owner. Not because the Mayor of San Diego had a stick so far up his ass he refused to see the grander picture. It would be my heart. My heart has belonged to this team. Whether I like it or not it will always belong to this team.
Charlie: It truly sounds like you have limitless love for the Chargers even after this whole disaster. That’s why you and I connect in good ways. The Packers and Eagles are pretty fair choices as well. Both places can get very cold though, so if you plan on taking trips to see the teams, at Lambeau especially, make sure to bundle up. So before we get into the actual team that you’re rocking with, how has this decision affected relationships with fellow Chargers fans? Do they understand why you’re doing this? I’m sure people feel your pain to some degree. Have you lost any followers on social media?
Chris: I live in Missouri and just moved from Nebraska. I’ve adjusted to cold weather I actually prefer it as well. As far as the transition to being apart of the bolt family on social media to a free agent fan. Man, its been rough. In fact its been one hell of a past seven months. Some have accepted it and understand why I have done it. Some have chosen the same path. Such as former BoltBlitz writer Zak Darman. Others who I have considered close followers have shown anger towards myself and others saying “we were never true fans” which is preposterous. I believe as humans we all grieve in certain ways. Of course I haven’t helped my own cause when I have drunkenly mocked the bolts and L.A. For that I apologize. It was a part of the seven steps of grief anger. In fact after this interview I will no longer be talking about the move or how much I hate Dean Spanos. The subject on this matter is now officially closed!
Charlie: Hypothetical question here, lets say you pick a team that isn’t the Bolts and they end up over exceeding expectations and making playoffs, how would that make you feel? Would you consider coming back? I myself would welcome you back with open arms. Everybody makes mistakes right? All 3 teams are good this year so there should be no letdown where ever you choose to land.
Chris: If the Bolts finally exceed expectations that would be a shock. I mean every time this team is predicted to “take over” the AFC West this team falls flat on its face. So I would be shocked and happy for the players like Rivers, Gates and other veteran guys who deserve to go out on top. However I would not change my mind to be Chargers fan again. Though I’ve thought about trying to be a fan for just one year. Like a player does when he signs a one-year contract. That’s not for me though. When I pick my team this is gonna be the team I stand by till I die!
Charlie: Is everybody in the Hoke family going to be following you on this decision or will this be a solo mission? Somebody in your family had to have either helped with your decision or entice you to go a certain route? Joining a fan base alone can be like switching schools as a kid.
Chris: As I’ve stated in an earlier question. My brother will be remaining a Chargers fan. The rest of my family is either fans of different teams or they are not into football in general. So no, this is something I’ve done on my own unfortunately.
Charlie: Alright so by now, I’m pretty sure the people are on their toes. Everybody can feel your pain and love for the Chargers throughout the article. A lot of people understand you and share those same emotions. Hopefully, this article and your decision can help others and their futures as football fans. With all that being said Mr. Man-of-the-hour, what team are you going with? Who are you going to support going forward? This is a huge decision and it has me so ecstatic to find out! I just hope you’re choosing to stay with us!
Chris: Oh man, This is a question I’ve asked myself over and over for the past seven months. Its taken a lot of soul-searching to get to this point. Being that I’m the man of the hour and I’m a man of my word.
I’ve decided to take my fandom with the Chargers to LA. At the end of the day this is my team. No owner can strip that away from me. I’ve seen these players such as Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates come up from nowhere to be the NFL’s elite. More so than this the Chargers are family. As the line in “Fast and the Furious” series always says “You don’t turn your back on family.” As hard as it is to cheer for a team in a city I hate, things change and I will learn to love this team again. I would once again like to apologize to all the bolt family I’ve spurned for the past seven months. It was a part of the grieving process. I hope you all can forgive me and let me back into the bolt family once again.
Again, Charlie I would like to thank you for these wonderful questions and helping me to close a huge chapter in my life. I look forward to cheering with you on Sundays. Go Bolts!!
Charlie: Yesssssss!!! Words can’t describe how hyped I am to hear you say that. I sure as hell speak for the entire bolt family when I say “welcome back”. Something told me all along you were going to stay with the team. Your passion for this team stretches further than most. This would definitely would not be the best time to leave anyways. The talent on this squad has everybody hyped for the future and I’m truly happy that you are able to look past all the destruction and let downs over the years to stay with them. It’s only going to make winning that much better. I truly am grateful to have found out your great decision first! Next round is on me!
Charlie LaFurno and Chris Hoke
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