Hi. You don’t know me. We’ve never met. You have no clue of my history with the San Diego Chargers, the team you unfortunately own.
Which probably makes this all a lot easier for you.
An hour and a half, Dean. Two with traffic. That’s how long the drive is from my house in Orange County to Qualcomm Stadium. Do you have any clue how restless a 7-year-old gets when he has to sit in a car for that long? And I always had to wake up so early — 6:30 a.m. usually. And sometimes, my brother wanted to sleep during the drive down, so he took up the whole back seat, and forced me into the way-way back of my mom’s old SUV. Those long, stop-and-go, cramped early morning drives are some of my most cherished memories today. Why?
Your team, Dean. My team. Those trips, when I could watch the sunrise just kiss the ocean’s horizon cruising down the freeway, always ended with a day of Chargers football. Win or lose — and it was mostly lose — my family, and many like us, packed your dingy old stadium full of powder blue. My brother would always buy the $6 popcorn, my dad the $9 beer, while you sat up in your luxury suite counting your millions. We committed to you. And now, when push comes to shove, it seems you’re unwilling to commit to us. You’ve announced that the team will be in San Diego for at least one more year, but we’ve learned to rarely trust your word when it comes to any permanence.
Before we go too far, let me tell you something. LA fucking sucks. At least, it would for you. The city’s literally bathed in athletic success. The Lakers, Kings, UCLA and USC have all won championships since 2000. Down in San Diego, a title parade has never once been planned. A championship would mean so much more to us. In LA, you’d own the team. In San Diego, you own the whole city.
Yet we sit here: owner, team and fan base, in some sort of a twisted standoff where you hold all the guns. Fans and players sit hostage, awaiting your decision while you make hush-hush deals with Stan Kroenke, then try to save face with a benevolent façade to the “Save Our Bolts” supporters. The way I see it, you have three choices. You can leave and eternally play second fiddle to the other Los Angeles team, adding some more to your current $1.69 billion net worth. You can get a stadium deal done in San Diego. There’s downtown space and money available via vote. All we need is to know that our team is going to stay ours. Or, you can sell the team to someone who actually gives a damn. But this flip-flop soap opera is simply bad business. You’re somehow managing to piss off both the cities you’re trying to sway. You’re scared to leave, and you’re scared to stay. Commit. If you’re going to go, just fucking go.
The worst part about me saying that is how much I love this team. Even if you ship them to Los Angeles, I’ll love them. I’ll hope they sign good free agents and draft solid prospects. But I won’t be a fan anymore. I can’t give my support to a franchise run by such a terrified scrooge. I can’t know your true intentions are to fill your pockets and not your trophy case. That’s why it stings so bad, Dean.
Maybe you’ve never loved a team. Never had your mood so affected by their success and failures, never had their best players taped all over your walls. The Chargers are me, Dean. They’re every fan. When and if you leave, you’ll be taking a little bit of me with you. And trust me, that’s the last you’ll ever get.
It’s a little sad that a 19-year-old needs to tell you that money isn’t always right. In fact, money’s all make-believe. What this team means to me and this city, however, couldn’t be more real. The cash may be up north, but the riches will always be in America’s Finest City.