The Chargers Have Left the Building…

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I was born in San Diego.  I grew up with Dan Fouts throwing to John Jefferson, Chuck Muncie diving over piles into the end zone, and Louie Kelcher eating quarterbacks for lunch.  In later years I watched some very good, and also some very bad Chargers football.  I have written books about the team, collected their memorabilia, reorganized the team photo archive (twice), redecorated the team offices, interviewed more than 100 former players, authenticated their game used memorabilia for NFL Auctions, answered questions about team history for their own PR office, contributed to their 50th Anniversary DVD, and more that I have likely forgotten.  Needless to say, the Chargers leaving my hometown has made an impression on me today.

Yet as involved as I have been at times, today I feel as distanced from the team as anyone else.  Contemporary professional sports lost me many years ago.  I am an old guy in a younger guy’s body, I guess, but I like things a bit simpler than they are in current day NFL.  Blaring music, defensive dances after tackles made 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, choreographed touchdown celebrations, and the expectation that we should kiss the boots of the mighty NFL have turned me off to it all.

I’ve never believed that the Chargers were 100% destined for Los Angeles.  Nor did I feel that they would always be in San Diego.  My thoughts traveled along the lines of the dollar.  Whatever location offered the most money is where they would end up – history, tradition, and fans be damned.  It is a sad reality.

Honestly, I am proud that San Diego did not cave in and meet the team’s demands.  I don’t live in the City of San Diego, so I did not have a vote last year.  But for me, it ultimately boiled down to this: Why should the public have to fund a large portion of a stadium to make the Spanos family wealthier than they already are?

I do feel badly about this situation, but it certainly is not for the Spanos family.  I feel badly for the Chargers staff members who now have to decide if they want to uproot their families and follow their employer to a city where, by all accounts, they are completely unwanted, or be out of a job.  I feel badly for the fans who save all year long so that they can purchase season tickets to watch their team; the fans who are at the stadium when the gates open, enjoy their Sunday afternoons with family and friends, cheer on their Chargers, and stay late after the game.  I feel badly for the pop warner kids who look up to their hometown heroes.  I feel badly for anyone who thought for even a moment that the Chargers cared as much for them as they did for the Chargers.  The truth is that they did not.  The Chargers did not care about you.  They only cared about what was in your wallet, and how much of its contents you were willing to give to them.

Honestly, the Chargers leaving doesn’t change me much at all.  I still love the AFL, and will continue to share stories on this site.  I will collect my signed trading cards, interview former ballplayers, and reconnect old teammates when I have the opportunity.  What I won’t do is cheer for the Chargers, and maybe not for any other team either.  My children and their friends participate in different sports from youth levels through high school.  I will cheer for those kids, laugh with their parents on sidelines, and maybe join them for a pizza after the game.  That, for the foreseeable future, will be enough for me.  Honestly, I’m already looking forward to it.


Todd Tobias (789 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

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6 Responses to The Chargers Have Left the Building…

  1. donsr19 says:

    I agree . The NFL is ruled by the owners, and only money catches their eyes.The fans of San Diego got ripped. The logo is a joke, and the RAms and Chargers will be moving out again, in 5-8 years…LA never supports a Pro team..UCLA and USC are the kings…

    I am a Jets fan, I began watching football a little after I was 12., my brother switched the station to see the Jets, because they had a Hungarian QB from PA!…in a few moments, I saw maynard catch a deep ball… the next series, I saw Alwoth catch one from Hadel..I became a Jets Fan, and AFL fan… I am also a football I cheered for Alworth and GArrison, when they weren’t playing the Jets, I had a bunch of Paperback books I bought, that detailed the history of the AFL..but lost almost all of them, in the 77 flood..I envy you. talking to AFL players, and being such a part of AFL history….my one scre is, a DVD made that contains the Jets Superbowl,even some commericals!…I have been trying to get one, of the Jets RAiders Playoff game, but no one seems to have anything…back in those days, out TV had 4 stations, and 2 of them were snowy ( until be bought a rotor!)….anyway..thanks for the AFL stories. I am sorry for the Chargers BAiling on SD. it won’t seem right any longer…and the a joke!

  2. OilersFan says:

    Well said. Professional football has changed so much over the past several decades, and not always for the better. Teams with little or no loyalty to their fan bases, end zone celebrations, political demonstrations on the field, penalty flags on far too many plays, easily caught passes dropped by highly paid receivers, stupid errors by players who don’t know the rules, and rules that have almost turned tackle football into two hand touch. Except for the top one or two teams in the league, most games are not decided by one team playing better than the other, but by one team making more stupid unforced errors than the other. It’s no wonder that attendance and TV viewership is down.

  3. GaryBoy1 says:

    I feel for all “San Diego Charger” fans it sucks! We had similar situation in NHL with the NY Islanders leaving LI for Brooklyn. It does change things but not everything. Hey at least you take a few hour drive and you still get Chargers football ( as long as they do keep that name and when will that go?) but 30,000 seats for 2 years? Good grief!
    You can never take away our AFL roots as they remain way too deep and you will still wear proudly your powder blues and point to the “Chargers” as your team not as much “LA” but the transition will be weird to all of us and us AFL fans especially. I cant wait to hear the old Charger players chime in with their thoughts. Frankly I did not think it would happen but owners and NFL are just greedy animals that will always get their way and as a Buffalo Bills fan I always wonder deep down when time comes if no new stadium when will we be held up by the NFL money monster?
    Stay well Charger fans and dont tread on your flags and jerseys too badly…If you want to burn your Spanos pictures then you have it right…also maybe get a list of all your neighbors that turned down on that vote too?
    BTW what was the actual tax impact on San Diego residents for a new stadium if thats what they were seeking? I am curious as to just how much that would have cost?
    Good luck in the coming years…but ughhhhh that new logo?
    Give us all a break!

  4. Eddie Arminio says:

    Greed is definitely one of the deadly sins. The people of San Diego, I applaud you on your vote.Let the billionaires spend,not the middle class.

  5. mohlera says:

    Nicely stated, Todd. You are very tuned to self as you tell of your feelings. I’m a St. Louisan, so I’ve felt the sting twice. As a young man I felt bitterness toward Bill Bidwill only to figure out years later that while he wanted more of a profit, he was in an untenable situation between an antiquated city and county government system that couldn’t come to a stadium agreement. The Rams lied to us and gave us bad football for at least six years while the plan was to move all along. The league and the billionaire owner waited for us to dance to their tune, offer up hundreds of millions to build a(nother) stadium and then pulled the rug out from under us and moved anyway. There are still a lot of angry fans here and it’s not so much directed at the team (I repeat, the Kroenkes gave us six years of bad football, and there was mediocre to bad football for a few years before that) but the way they torched our pride on the way down the road to L.A.; only a baseball town? Pppsssssh. Years and years of bad football and an uncommunicative owner would turn off Packer or Cowboy fans, too. And then to hear Roger Goodell lie through his teeth and say that St. Louis would be looked at for a future team; it’s a little sickening. I too am rooted to a long-ago time when the game was simpler. I do enjoy watching certain players now, but I do it from the comfort of my easy chair. I’m sorry for another team being ripped from where it was entrenched – and sports is a much different business than any other because it’s hard to root for IBM – but to be able to go on and enrich the memories you already have is a good, healthy thing.

  6. Woodstrock says:


    Very sorry about the Chargers move. I was born and raised in South Florida as a Miami Dolphins fan from the earliest days of the franchise. Battles with San Diego have almost always ended in memorable moments, including playoffs (win or lose) in 81, 82, 92 and 94. And now add the news today that the Raiders want to move (again) the current league is getting less and less recognizable from the league I grew to love. And not to turn this into another bash on the GoodellNFL, I’ve really enjoyed reading your work on the original AFL. And the more I read and dig up info on the league I once knew, I enjoy those teams and moments all over again.

    Thanks again for your work, and even though life moves on, those glory days and stories of the AFL and post-merger NFL only seem to get better with time.

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