When the San Diego Chargers left to become the Los Angeles Chargers, it was nearly impossible for San Diego fans to accept it. I know it was impossible for me to remain a faithful fan.
I was a third generation Charger’s fan by that point. I was the last of the football Mohicans in my family. My grandfather and then mother passed away-each hoping they’d see a Superbowl win sometime in their lifetime-each denied the moment that all football fans hope for by what I used to think was just bad luck. Or a curse.
When they passed on, I bolted up. I showed my lightning bolts. And despite the sheer ineptitude that is the Chargers organization, I went to games, bought the merch, and screamed at the TV. And I did it even when the Chargers did the things that the Chargers always seemed to do in the games that mattered most.
And I’ll admit that I watched the game on Saturday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and I’ll admit that I hoped and cheered for these Los Angeles Chargers to win. But I’d like to make two more confessions to future Charger fans before they decide to spend a single dollar in support.
- At 27-0 all of San Diego knew the Chargers were going to blow the lead
- This is why San Diego didn’t vote for a new stadium
And this is why San Diego let this team leave. Because both the old San Diego Chargers and the new Los Angeles Chargers have the same problem: they simply can’t win the games that they should win.
The Los Angeles Chargers are still the same team that in San Diego had the game in the bag, when Marlon McCree failed to take a knee to end the game. I was there in the stands at Qualcomm for that one.
The Los Angeles Chargers are still the same team that fumbled the football on a kneel down. The announcer cried, “Unbelievable.” Nope, it was believable. The announcer cried, “Inexcusable.” But there was an excuse: The Chargers.
And don’t think that this exact thing, this disgusting horror show that was the Chargers vs Jaguars game this Saturday, hasn’t happened before. The Chargers were up 24-0 on Peyton Manning and the Broncos in 2012, when the Broncos scored 35 unanswered points in the second half.
The Chargers are the most statistically probable team to do the most statistically improbable things. There was the infamous 4th and 29 game versus the Ravens, the 21 point blown lead to the Texans, and the Chiefs, and of course the creme de la creme, the 0-21 start to their one and only Super Bowl back in 1995.
And there are many, many more. So many that when the Chargers organization came looking for a stadium, San Diego didn’t give them one.
Because you can blame the Spanos family for which coach they fire when they shouldn’t. Or, you can blame the Spanos family for who they keep hired to coach when they shouldn’t.
You can blame A.J. Smith, “lord of no rings” general manager, for letting Brees go, and you can blame Bobby Beathard for not staying at No. 3 when the Chargers got Ryan Leafed.
But you know what you can’t blame?
Statistics. Like how the Chargers had a 99.7 percent chance of winning Saturday at one point.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have the worst statistical win percentage in NFL history. But the Chargers are the world class champions of losing the games when everyone is thinking they should win.
Everyone that is except the fans that know they won’t.
Before the game on Saturday, franchise QB Justin Herbert said, “We’re treating it like another game.”
It hurts me to say it because I like the kid. But there you have it.
And there isn’t a thing that is going to change for the Chargers until this hurdle is overcome. Not changing cities, not changing uniforms, not changing coaches, not changing players and general managers. Not changing fans.
Because the Chargers are not cursed.
The Chargers are not victims of fate.
The Chargers just can’t do what everyone thinks they can, when it matters.
When it matters most, the Chargers can’t collectively realize that some games are not just another game.
And until the Los Angeles Chargers happen to do what the San Diego Chargers never could, they’ll only ever be really good at the same thing they were here in San Diego.
Thomas Courtney is a third generation Chargers fan and an elementary school teacher. He lives in La Mesa.