COMMENTARY | It’s hard to admit that the Los Angeles Chargers did well in their 29-28 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday, December 13. Still, I admit that the Chargers’ successful two-point conversion made any viewer’s jaw drop.
That’s good for nice guy Philip Rivers and veteran Chargers’ tight end Antonio Gates. They’ve been together a long time. I am happy for them personally, but I don’t want them anywhere near Super Bowl LIII. Instead, I’m praying that the crosstown rival Los Angeles Rams get it together after two horrid losses.
As a San Diego-area resident and Los Angeles native, it’s tough to see my team, the Rams, move home after 22 years and compete with the Chargers in the same market. This is personal. It’s even harder to see them do well, while attempting to take the spotlight away from the Rams. The Chargers sharing a stadium with the Rams is an even bigger insult. They are set to play in Stan Kroenke’s brand new, state of the art stadium in 2020. That never should have happened.
I watched when San Diego fans got word that the Chargers were leaving for Los Angeles. Chargers owner Dean Spanos was done with th efight for a new stadium in the Mission Valley or Downtown areas. City and hotel businesses didn’t help the cause.
It was a political war of funding and resources across the board. In 2015, a TV reporter I worked took a brief call while we were driving to a story. When he finished the conversation, he told me that a valid source within the organization said the Chargers were leaving. The move didn’t take place right away. However, it finally happened in 2017, one year after the Rams had moved back to Los Angeles.
Lots of pain
That finalization hit the San Diego fans hard. When the announcement happened, I recorded video of fans throwing their Chargers gear into a giant pile in front of the team’s training facility. Then some angry die-hard fans set it all on fire. Security came quickly to stomp out the flames.
The first incident was a man we got on video throwing eggs at the Chargers’ front office doors. He emptied about two dozen of those suckers and created a mess for facilities workers to clean for days. Another angry fan expressed his anger in both English and Spanish at our cameras. “Estas sucios!” he shouted (translated in slang as, “You’re dirty” or “You did us dirty”) and then spit on the ground. Our Telemundo partners in Los Angeles wanted that for sure.
We interviewed one fan that understood the business end of what Spanos did. However, that was one fan out of hundreds gathering and protesting at the training center.
The hurt is still there
There are fans in San Diego that are still angry with the Charges leaving, mainly at ownership, and want them to fail. They want them to lose and lose big after ditching them two seasons ago.
Many of these fans celebrated their congratulatory homecoming at formerly Jack Murphy Stadium (also formerly Qualcomm and now SDCCU Stadium) in 1994 after their first and only Super Bowl appearance. The Chargers lost 49-26 to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX , but the fans still loved them.
They also stayed loyal after the 2007 AFC divisional playoff loss to the Patriots. These fans continued cheering them on at Qualcomm throughout their remaining years in San Diego, even the recent losing seasons.
Last Thursday night’s win and the last four wins in a row may have rallied some of the old fans to pull for their formerly beloved Bolts all over again. Many waited years for a good season from the Chargers when they were still San Diego’s team.
Meanwhile in the City of Angels
Now in Los Angeles, the Chargers are in the hunt to win it all, but not over the Rams’ dead bodies or without a fight from their die-hard fans. When speaking to any L.A. resident, they say it is all about the Rams. To them, no one cares about the Chargers. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the Chargers are trucking hard to carve out their place in the “Fight for L.A.”
The Rams’ disappointing losses to the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles, the lack of offensive production, defensive coverage communication, and basic fundamental errors like not protecting the football didn’t help our cause. Let’s hope and yes, why not, pray that our Rams can win their next two remaining regular season games. We could really use that momentum going into the playoffs, and, of course, we would love for L.A.’s real team to get that much anticipated Super Bowl win.
Maybe we can even send the Chargers back to San Diego. Is that still possible? Maybe not any time soon, but if that’s the case, then we can sure do our best to keep them playing second fiddle. The Chargers never should have been in L.A. The City of Angels is a Rams town. Winning or not, the Chargers aren’t wanted in L.A. here; they never were.