(Insert 30 for 30 voice) What if I told you I was an NFL franchise owner who wanted to move my team if I didn’t get a new stadium. AND, What if I told you I wanted to move my team to a city whose football fans didn’t want my team to move to their city. AND, AND, what if I told you I moved my team to that city anyway? (End 30 for 30 voice)
Here’s a thing. Moving a sports franchise isn’t easy. It’s kind of ugly in all reality and the loyal fans always lose. Remember when Robert Irsay moved the Baltimore Colts in the “dead of night” to Indianapolis? Yeah, it was because of an old stadium and Irsay wanting a new one. Point is, moving the team unannounced at night made the break up easier for Irsay. Many Baltimore Colts fans are still bitter about the move.
Alex Spanos bought the majority interest in the San Diego Chargers in 1984 (ironically the same year the Colts moved to Indy). His son Dean is now the Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board for the team. Dean is the person responsible for moving the team from San Diego to Los Angeles. Not in the dead of night, but just has heart wrenching for Chargers fans.
If you want more Chargers history check out my guy Nick’s article about The Chargers and Air Coryell.
What was the point of moving the Chargers? To get a new stadium? That’s cool. So the Chargers are sharing a stadium with the LA Galaxy. The stadium fits at most 30,000 people. Which, apparently, is 20,000 less than the NFL requires for temporary housing for it’s teams.
The average attendance for a Los Angeles Chargers home game was 25,353. In San Diego, the Chargers were getting 57,204 people on average to see a 5-11 team. From 2008-2015 the average attendance in San Diego was 65,372. Maybe things will be different in a larger stadium they’ll be sharing with the Rams?
For comparison, Green Bay is smallest city and smallest metropolitan area with a NFL team. The estimated population of Green Bay is 105,139. Lambeau Field, where the Packers play, seats 81,441. That means 77% of the population of Green Bay can fit into Lambeau. That also means the average attendance for 3 Los Angeles Chargers home games could fit into Lambeau.
The attendance wasn’t bad. Was success the problem? The fans still loved their team, even if they weren’t a “Championship” winning team. Here’s something to think about: the Los Angeles Chargers ARE a championship winning franchise. When? That’s not important.
OK! So their last championship came in 1963 at a time when the Chargers would be considered ‘kings’ of the AFL. Between 1960-1965 the Chargers went to the AFL Championship game 5 of the 6 seasons with the lone win in ’63. That was all before the merger with the NFL in 1970. Since then the Chargers have been to 4 AFC Championship game. They won the AFC in 1995 then proceeded to get smoked by the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX with a score of 49-26.
Between 1970-2003 the Chargers had 8 winning seasons. Success isn’t easy to sustain in professional sports. Some franchises make it look easy, that’s not the point. The Charger fans, however, had 33 years to deal with abysmal or mediocre performances. Things changed in 2004, since then a span of 14 season, there have been 9 winning season for the Chargers.
In those 9 seasons there are ZERO Super Bowl appearances. That may just be a matter of timing. The Patriots with Tom Brady and the Colts/Broncos with Peyton Manning are the main culprits for the Chargers absence from Super Bowl glory…or failure. I’m not a Chargers fan by any means, but I feel that no matter how good the Chargers start a season, by the end of November the Chargers are either out of 1st place or the playoff picture all together.
Here’s why the Chargers are a lesson in disappointment. There is an expectation of success for the Chargers, be it in San Diego or now in Los Angeles. Their last 2 ‘real’ starting quarterbacks have been Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. The Chargers had 9 seasons of the best running back of his time in LaDainian Tomlinson. So they had at least 1 Pro Bowl QB, 1 Pro Bowl RB, athletic receivers and a tight end that played basketball in college but had great hands.
What’s the first team that comes to your mind when I ask “what is the worst team in the NFL?”—have your answer? I have the Browns as the worst team. The Browns are not a disappointment, because no one expects them to succeed. The last time the Browns were relevant was, what, 1987? Over 30 years ago.
Over the past 15 years the Chargers have been a team that has always had potential, but always was just a few plays or points short. When you think of disappointing, you should consider the Chargers. It ain’t easy playing in Southern California even with it’s lovely weather.