Tom Krasovic: Chargers seem to have lost many passionate San Diego fans
“You still have the opportunity to support your team. You know, they’re only an hour and a half up the coast.” – LaDainian Tomlinson.
Love you, L.T.
Free advice: Don’t hold your Bolts breath.
Three months later, three months since Dean Spanos, the overly enabled Chargers owner cold-stamped Jan. 12, 2017 onto the San Diego sports psyche, the Chargers have lost something valuable in San Diego, something they had in spades.
What they’ve lost is the attentiveness of folks who followed their every step, who needed their Chargers fix every day, even when the season was far off.
People for whom the fourth-round draft pick was an engrossing topic.
Folks who plotted hypothetical salary-cap moves, and cared about the long-snapper and who reached the Ring of Honor.
Diehards who chanted B-O-S-A at spring camp last year.
The days of San Diegans monitoring all things Chargers just because it’s the Chargers – those days appear over, by and large.
Carson or Costa Mesa may as well be a continent away for a good number of longtime customers, based on my gleanings from fan feedback, from U-T metrics of traditional Bolts content, from the Chargers desert that is the U-T sports section, and from Chargers coverage via local TV and radio outlets.
They’re the Los Angeles Chargers now, although the Spani continue to work out of Chargers Park, the 14-acre training and administrative complex that San Diego taxpayers built and maintained, even excluding the Chargers from paying property taxes, per VOSD.org.
For San Diegans, the cord-cutting – heart-string severing? – was predictable, but among uninitiated NFL players past and present, notions such as L.T.’s were common.
It’s only 90 minutes away.
The franchise-shuffling NFL lords acted as if San Diego is just a Bolt of cloth in the SoCal fabric.
Among some Chargers personnel, the fallout has engendered some surprise. They anticipated San Diego’s embrace would linger longer than it has, especially among San Diego media.
How San Diego responds once the games begin will be the acid test.
The city’s local CBS affiliate, tried and true at the ratings game, anticipates larger numbers for Chargers telecasts than for any other NFL game content.
And, just three months since the 56 years of history were put into storage, it’s false that San Diego has sworn off the Bolts entirely.
I hear and read plenty of swearing.
A good number of San Diegans still care. Big-picture angles still interest them.
Schadenfreude is alive and well among Bolts fans who’ve reached out to me, voodoo dolls in hand.
Novelty pulls them, too. For example, a Padres official plans a trip to Carson, just to experience an NFL game in a small venue. (Ach, would that the Spani and City Hall have shared my less-is-more vision for a San Diego venue.)
A former Chargers fan will accompany the Padres official to Carson – and root for the Chargers opponent. If Philip Rivers is sacked, so be it. San Diego fealty trumps latent regard for the Bolt.
L.A. is a big place.
In time, who’s to say the Chargers won’t cultivate an ardent following that equals in number, if not regional proportion, what the fumble-prone Spani enjoyed in San Diego.
The NFL machine is behind these Chargers, mobilizing the Los Angeles-based NFL Network behind Team Spanos. Lured by L.A.’s bright lights, other TV rights-holders will give the Chargers more play.
The Chargers’ success, on and off the field, is important to the NFL. Cartels have feelings, too.
And yet, three months later, Los Angeles Chargers still feels like a clumsy misnomer. “The Chargers in Los Angeles as a second team makes absolutely zero sense,” MMQB.com’s Peter King, a longtime NFL insider, wrote (again) last week.
Unconditional enthusiasm doesn’t grow on trees.