"And, for example, you have [task-force member] Ron [Saathoff], the head of the Firefighters' Union, who himself understands that he's got a conflict there. Not in a personal conflict, but I mean in the sense of his membership, you know, he wants to see to it that the city budget doesn't get raided in order that they have money for salaries and benefits, and they have money for new fire stations and new equipment.
"The flip side is, of course, a lot of them probably are Chargers fans. [Saathoff] discovered by December and early January that there was no way on God's earth that the Chargers were going to provide any meaningful data about whether they were competitive or what the profits were or what financial problems they had with Qualcomm, if any, you know. And that as a task-force member and head of the finance committee, he was going to be expected to just accept the representation by the NFL.
"I said, what they're [the Chargers] really interested in is creating a legal environment in which they can leave San Diego.
"And that takes you back to the original contract, and that's why they have to trigger, and that's why they're going to trigger, I told them. And these people said no, no, no. What they're going to do is they're going to agree to extend the trigger date and then, once they get that extension and we come back with the task-force report, they're going to agree to sit down and have voluntary negotiations and put off the trigger as long as it takes in order for the City to, in good faith, negotiate a new deal with them.
"And I said, that isn't going to happen. I said, you're absolutely wrong. They're going to trigger when it's convenient to them.
"The only question is, is there a deal to be done up in Los Angeles? And that's where it became critical that you had people [who knew what they were talking about]. For example, I had Tim Sullivan from the Union-Tribune come to me in the middle of February and say, 'Bruce, my sources tell me that everything in L.A. has come to a dead stop, and there is no deal to be made in L.A.' And I said, well, that isn't what my sources are telling me. My sources are telling me that the Rose Bowl deal is in the final stages, and it's almost ready to come to fruition.
"And he said, 'Well, that's not what I'm hearing.' And I said, 'Well, I hope you're right, and I hope I'm wrong.' But you see, those sorts of judgment calls of what's going on in L.A. are very critical in this whole process because if you assume that the Chargers have no place to go, then they don't need to trigger. The only reason to trigger under the contract is to start a process by which the Chargers are free to leave San Diego."
MP: "The Chargers' position was that they had to use the trigger in order to begin the negotiations."
BH: "Which, of course, isn't true. As the task-force members, and as everybody who thinks about it for a second knows, two parties to a contract are always free to sit down and talk to each other and negotiate to come up with a brand-new contract.
"In the middle of January, Watson came to me and he said, 'Isn't it interesting that people like [Ron Saathoff] are now saying that, "Uh, gee, it looks like Henderson was absolutely right about the Chargers."'
"[But] the task force said, 'Well, no, we don't want to deal with that. We want to negotiate with them even if they won't give us that data. Because we believe that and that's what they want.' In other words, they just ignored the reality and said, 'Well, we want to believe that the Chargers want to stay here in San Diego.' And if I'd say, 'Well, they don't,' they'd say, 'Well, they say they do.' I get these task-force members saying, 'Well, [Dean Spanos] says they want to stay in San Diego.' I'd say, 'Well, they have to say they want to stay in San Diego under the contract!' You know, it'd be a gross breach of the contract for [Dean Spanos] to say anything else.
"You have to watch what the NFL is doing up in Los Angeles. And that's where you have to pay attention to what people in Los Angeles are saying as to who is the likely team that's going to fill that slot up there, and they're all saying up in Los Angeles it's the Chargers. So, obviously the NFL is suggesting to people up there, 'Oh yeah, we've got a team that's gonna fill the Rose Bowl, all right,' as they put this deal together at the Rose Bowl. And on the QT they're saying, 'Well, it's the Chargers.'
"All during this process, there were two sources of information. There were some Reader articles, of course, going back years particularly, where all of this had gotten laid out. And then, secondly, you could follow it in the L.A. Times. You couldn't follow it in the San Diego Union-Tribune. There was just zero coverage. Not quite zero, but as a practical matter, zero coverage. It's as though -- and again, you saw it with the task force -- they seem to be paralleling or mirroring this attitude of the task force that we will not pay any attention to Los Angeles because it doesn't fit in with what we want to believe.
"And that's why, of course, the City was caught in such shock when the Chargers triggered. Because everything had been based on the fact that 'Henderson was wrong, and we're right. Henderson doesn't know what the Chargers intend to do. We know what they intend to do. Henderson is wrong about Los Angeles. Nothing is happening up there.' Of course, we now know that claim, that nothing is happening in Los Angeles, is ludicrous.