I have honestly spent the past 12 hours trying to muster enough anger to write an impassioned goodbye to my soon to be former hometown San Diego Chargers. When you're a San Diego native, you learn quickly that there are very few moments that thrust the city into the national sports conversation. Because seriously, who the hell north of Oceanside cares whether Luis Perdomo will be the Padres opening day starter this season?
But the Chargers leaving? Hell yeah, that's a big one, a moment for LARGE thoughts and HEAVY feelings of the kind that might engender sympathy from sports fans across the nation. It's things like this that can really reach the fans who would otherwise dismiss anything bad happening to San Diego sports teams because the city has great weather and Mexican food. Fuck that: we ached through every moment of watching Billy Joe Tolliver as the Chargers' starting quarterback, we cried when Tom Werner traded away every good Padres player, and we were pissed when Trevor Hoffman gave up a game-deciding home run in the World Series to Scott Brosius, of all people. It's been a sad sports history for San Diego, and my cynical self has been listening to massive doses of Depeche Mode and Smiths and waiting to write about a huge moment like this for my entire journalistic career. Line up the awards.
But the truth is that I can't feel it. A combination of disgust with Chargers ownership—the bumbling Spanos family, too incompetent to reach actual villainy—and a growing dislike of the NFL's gradual transformation into the hokiest film's evil villain has pretty much sapped away my interest in and enjoyment of football. I don't think I've watched a full Chargers game in years. I live in New York now. The Chargers are leaving San Diego, and I don't really care.
Which is not to say that I don't have good Chargers memories. I once attended a Raiders-Chargers Monday night game where a man wearing a Raiders jersey in a wheelchair started a fight with a man in a Chargers jersey who wasn't in a wheelchair, which in turn incited a full out brawl that required police assistance. It was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. Things like that you can't replace. And I honestly do feel terrible for the thousands of San Diegans that spent their childhoods and adulthoods going to Jack Murphy Stadium (from now I am refusing to call that stadium Qualcomm Park, because enough with all these corporate interests) for Chargers games. For some people, the Chargers leaving really is a true gut punch. Honestly, inciting mostly mild mannered San Diego fans to egg your headquarters is itself quite an accomplishment. Also, of course, there is poor Bolt Man. I'm sorry, Bolt Man.
But all of the anger has been building up for some time, now, and somewhere in there it went stale. The Chargers have seemingly been trying to leave San Diego for almost 20 years. Sure the Spanos family will defend themselves and say they have been trying to find ways to build a new stadium in San Diego, but critics can point out that the team never really provided enough information on how these projects would be funded. In the end, San Diego voters in November rejected an attempt to raise taxes for a combined convention center and new Chargers stadium. Enough was enough. So now the Chargers are leaving, and the columnists, both local and national, will wonder what will happen to San Diego's identity. But San Diego will be fine without the Chargers.
At their best, the Chargers were a team that united fans from both the U.S. and Mexico and gave a little hope to a city accustomed to terrible sports teams. Mostly, though, the Chargers were a team that was almost always dreadful to watch. They bored you because they were not good, angered you because they were mind-numbingly mismanaged, and then somehow still broke your heart with crushing upset losses in the playoffs. There are still times when I want to yell, "For fuck's sake Marlon McCree take a goddamned knee."
And now they are Los Angeles' team, which is probably the most painful part for some San Diegans. The city has always had an inferiority complex where Los Angeles was concerned, and now those Angelenos took our football team. (They took the Clippers, too, but seemingly nobody cared about that one.) But the bright side is that Los Angeles has to take the Spanos family, too, and all their bungling methods of running a football team. They have to take all the terrible losses and the bad draft picks and the worse coaches (Kevin Gilbride, really?). That's all their problem, now. Good riddance.