Sucking out the poison

Forgive the bitterness, for it’s only a sign of the poison.

I don’t care about the Chargers anymore. I wish them luck in the future, pray no one gets hurt, and I promise to never burn my vintage powder blue Junior Seau jersey. But my days of proudly repping a team that’s been at best mediocre my entire life — a team that I only loved so dearly for the arbitrary location of their operation along with their supposed commitment and appreciation for San Diego — are over. Love requires both ebb and flow, and when a relationship is this one-sided, it’s doomed.

We were doomed, and never even knew it.

It’s damn fitting that Dean Spanos — the billionaire who acquired both his wealth and his Chargers ownership through the highly profitable business of rich-daddy inheritance — posted a letter informing fans of his unilateral decision to move the team to Los Angeles hours after the Chargers had already changed their Twitter profile picture to this abomination.

It’s like they took the Dodgers logo and said “How in the world could we possibly make this configuration of two letters look any worse?”

Rumors have swirled for years that Spanos has been trying to leave San Diego. The numbers never lined up though, for the one thing old Deano has shown during his ownership is a tight grip on his wallet. He was never going to build a new stadium in San Diego, and had he his druthers, wouldn’t build one in LA either. When the Rams moved, though, and Stan Kroenke offered to build a stadium in Inglewood on his dime entirely, Spanos saw opportunity. When he was presented with $1 per year rent, he pounced.

With any split of this magnitude and bathed in this much emotion, pointing fingers will soon fly. Spanos will try his very best make it seem as though he tried everything, absolutely everything, to keep his team in San Diego. He won’t dare mention that the city pleaded him to contribute more for a new venue after the NFL offered an unprecedented $300 million to help retention efforts. Guess what he said to that.

The perception of Prop C, the insane bill the Chargers sponsored during this godforsaken election cycle that required two-thirds county approval to raise hotel taxes to help pay for a new stadium, will also get twisted in the fallout. This city is built on tourism, and when a billionaire asks it to self-cannibalize while he shows only frugal apathy, love for his team turns to poison. Dean knew that and didn’t budge on his asking price. The prop was destined to fail — the city made to look like it didn’t care about keeping its football team. How benevolent one can seem when holding all the cards.

I’ll put it this way: The absolute most Spanos ever offered to pay for a new San Diego stadium was $350 million. He’ll pay the league $650 million in relocation fees alone just to buy the right to move his team the hell out of Mission Valley, California. Don’t ever question who played who — there was a plan of action, and a precise script was followed.

Typically, the fans are the only real losers, despite LA not wanting anything to do with the Chargers and the NFL not wanting the Chargers anywhere but San Diego. We, the fans, who had the least amount of say and the most amount to lose. The fans, who flocked for over 50 years to decrepit Qualcomm Stadium to cheer for our Chargers, who only ever seemed to do well in spite of upper management. The fans, who now must take down flags, cover up tattoos and peel off car stickers brandishing our proud bolt, must somehow reforge a city identity without the football team that helped shape it for generations.

But things, despite how I describe them, aren’t all bad. The cloud of this multibillion dollar debauchery will soon clear, perhaps migrate north and sunshine will somehow return to America’s Finest City. The beaches may be a bit more crowded on Sunday afternoons, but the vitriol that has twisted our city’s passionate love to a calcified hate will, like the tides, soon wash away.

It will still be San Diego.

Right now, we’re bitter from the poison.

But now that the weak snake has fled after delivering its one and only bite, we may begin to suck it out for good.

Austin Isaacsohn covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @AustinIsaacsohn.