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
“In the criminal justice system, moving sports team based offenses are considered especially heinous. In the city of San Diego, the dedicated fans who witness these vicious felonies are in an elite squad known as the Save Our Bolts Unit. These are their stories. BUM BUM!” – Parody of Law and Order Special Victims Unit
The date, January 12th 2017, will be forever known as the day the Chargers died in San Diego. Included in the passing, 56 year of hopes and dreams of many San Diego Chargers fans have been buried. Dreams of seeing this team finally win a Super Bowl, which would included a parade throughout America’s finest city, have now perished. With that murdered dream, so goes the possibility of many San Diegans to finally say “Yes we finally have a winner!”
This is not a game of Clue, or an episode of S.V.U that leaves us pondering who the murderer is. The murderer of those said hopes and dreams of many San Diego citizens and Charger fans worldwide, is Dean Spanos. Instead of being the bigger man and really fighting for a stadium, in which the Chargers have been looking at for the past 15 years, Dean chose the easy way out. He walked away from fighting against a market whom is claiming “LA doesn’t want the Chargers,” a failed Proposition C in which he seemed to turn into a ghost, and debating against hoteliers regarding a huge tax hike.
Even with the attendance down, Dean was making more than enough money to keep this team afloat in San Diego. This move, simply put, is about having more money. This is about greed beating out the loyalty of a fan base that had supported this team through tough seasons when in reality, there were way better things to do in America’s finest city.
The loss of Prop C was just a cop out of Dean and his goons to make a few extra million dollars. What does Dean gain? The so called 25% of fan base that’s supposedly in LA? Does Dean not know percentages? He had 75% of a fan base in San Diego or from San Diego, yet he chose the smaller amount. The ironically humorous part of that is those 25% should probably fill the 27,000 seat stadium the Bolts will play in for the next two years.
Funny to think that if he just showed some commitment to put a winner on the field for the past few years, the city would’ve rewarded Dean with a reasonable offer that worked for everyone. Instead, San Diegans are left without a team that they supported from Sid Gillman all the way to Mike McCoy. This fan base never wavered, staying ignorantly loyal up to the very end.
How fitting though; the team that has made it an art form of crushing our hopes for the past 56 years, breaks our hearts for one last time.
As far as I am concerned, I will not follow that goon of an owner to the city most Charger fans have been raised to root against. Dean showed us no respect leaving San Diego and making a crappy LA logo in the same day. Why show him and his team that same respect?
I will keep my jerseys and my memories of which I have so many to share; perhaps unveiling them in another article. As far as the other city that Chargers team now calls home, I wish the players the best of luck, especially my favorite player Antonio Gates. I can not consciously follow this team to Los Angeles and in reading through numerous social media outlets, it appears many will not as well.
For those staying out of LA and ditching Dean and his organization, like he has ditched us, let’s hear the SAN DIEGO CHARGERS ANTHEM one last time and reflect on our time spent as loyal SAN DIEGO CHARGER fans.
Before I begin, I want to say there are two groups of fans this does not apply to: the first is season ticket holders who did not sell their seats to opposing fans and went to all games; the second group is “Save Our Bolts.” It was very admirable what you guys did and you all should be very proud. It is also worth noting that the whole “Chargers to LA” thing is still mostly speculation at this point.
Obviously, there are more fans that this applies to, but I wanted to make sure to take the time to mention the folks who stand out in my mind. Again, thank you all for everything that you have done and that you’ll continue to do as we near a resolution regarding the stadium situation in San Diego.
Now, let’s get to the reason that the Chargers fan base is not without fault should the move occur.
First, the San Diego Chargers in 2016 are ranked 31st out of 32 in attendance. Behind them is the Oakland Raiders, so at least we are beating them in something this season. The sad fact is we are a lot better team than a lot of the teams above us, such as; Cleveland and Jacksonville. How is it that the fans of San Diego expect the team not to look at other options when they do not even show up to the game. Not to mention if anyone saw the games vs the Denver Broncos or Miami Dolphins this season, it looks like an away game for our squad. Here is an article USA Today created about this very phenomenon this season (http://broncoswire.usatoday.com/2016/10/13/san-diego-home-game-denver-broncos-chargers-tnf).
Second, fans of San Diego are letting the players down. Even more than they let us down on Sundays. Some may remember when the choice was announced that some Chargers players took to twitter and said, “every home game better be sold out.” Well, as previously stated, the Chargers are ranked 31st in attendance out of 32. So even though the players and organization are dying to get more fans to the stadium. To which the Chargers fan base plainly stated by their actions, no, we will not show up until you start winning games. In other words, a bandwagon mentality. (http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2016/1/29/10873822/san-diego-chargers-players-reactions-los-angeles-show-up).
Third, the failure of Prop C, although the team did all they could, and so did the citizens initiative. The citizens of San Diego, do not want the Chargers, even though the plan actually included creating a permanent situation with comic con and zero taxpayer dollars. That was not enough to keep the team around.
It does not make sense for a team to stay someplace that they are not making money, that is what the bottom line is in the case of the Chargers. They are not making enough money off of tickets. Also with the low attendance numbers that does not help the other way that a lot of teams make money. They are called sponsors, how can you sell sponsorship or advertising space when you rank second to last in attendance and have not been higher than 19 in the past six years.
At least if they end up playing in the Stubhub Center in Carson, California as a temporary venue it is much smaller attendance wise and maybe just maybe, there is a chance for a 100 percent Chargers sellout game.
On the flip side, there is some things that the Chargers could have done marketing wise in order to get more and more CHARGER fans out to the game that have not been done. For example, maybe putting a winning football team on the field, or creating more advertisements and deals to specific groups that create a better image to the community of San Diego. Instead of just visiting places and doing community service, maybe invite those who do not have a lot to the game and grant them experiences that will last a lifetime. Usually if the public has a high opinion of a team, they are more likely to support that team. That is one reason why the Chicago Bears and every team in Chicago has some of the most loyal fans on earth.
The bottom line is, the San Diego Chargers have not ranked higher than 19th ever since 2009 when the Chargers went 13-3.
After proposition C got struck down with a vengeance by the voters from the city of San Diego, even though the stadium was going to be built using no taxpayer dollars what so ever. That leaves one logical spot, and that is to revamp the current mission valley location. It is a prime location because even though it is not close to downtown, it is surrounded by several major freeways and in a highly populated area. What is Dean Spanos thoughts on revamping the mission valley spot? In an interview with U-T San Diego, Dean said,” I am not a believer in Mission Valley — I don’t think I would ever go back there.” So, if he was being 100 percent truthful, that knocks out the Mission Valley option, leaving only Los Angeles on the table.