For a number of years now, I have pedaled eastward from my house near Morley Field with the goal of eventually depositing myself on a stool at True North Tavern, on 30th Street just south of University Avenue. This is a ritual I observe on Sunday mornings in the fall, one that centers on consuming NFL football. I order wings, have a beer or two, and proceed to march through the requisite (often moronic) NFL fan emotions. Rage, elation, dejection, confusion — I feel them all depending on how the Philadelphia Eagles are performing.
I often see my buddy Adolfo at the bar. He is a fixture there on these NFL Sundays. If you think you can scream at a TV when your team is playing poorly, you have not met Adolfo. His yells tend to slice through the other patrons’ conversations like a machete splitting a cantaloupe. Despite the near-complete predictability of the San Diego Chargers tanking on a given fall Sunday, Adolfo could not remain calm and contained.
But his days of over-caring appear to be over. In his eyes, team owner Dean Spanos’s act of moving the team from San Diego to Los Angeles was nothing short of an epic betrayal. To Adolfo, it was a stab in the back and a maneuver that has most likely soured his admiration for the franchise permanently.
“It was the fact that they actually never ever truly intended to stay here,” Adolfo explained to me. “The whole time, all these two years. Measure C: ‘Oh, we’re not going. We’re actually gonna come back for a year and really make it work in San Diego!’ This and that…it was bull crap. He’s been wanting to move to L.A. for, like, 10 or 15 years.
"The minute that the city put it to Dean that he was gonna have to throw in a little of his own money as well, he just tuned out. He tried everything to ultimately get to L.A. When he got an opportunity to go up there, rent-free, on the coattails of [Rams owner] Stan Kroenke, that was even better for him.”
Adolfo continued, “I don’t think it was any one thing that angered me. It was just the whole long, drawn-out process. Honestly, I’ve been following the stadium thing ever since 2000. For 15-plus years, just following the story, knowing all the ins and outs of it. To just, at the end, just really realize, Oh, he never really intended to stay here the whole time. It was just a charade. It was a bunch of bull crap. That’s what did me in.”
Adolfo has not only dropped off of the Chargers bandwagon, but also the entire National Football League wagon. He is particularly disgusted by the way the league is treating former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick due to the controversy surrounding his refusal to stand for the National Anthem during a series of games in 2016. He feels that Kaepernick is a “good dude” who can’t find a gig because he took a stand (by kneeling) for something that actually matters. He then compared Kaepernick’s situation to that of Joe Mixon, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of this year’s NFL draft. There is video of Mixon punching a woman in the face and knocking her unconscious in July 2014. At the time, he was a running back for the Oklahoma Sooners. Adolfo’s frustration centers on Kaepernick getting seemingly blackballed by the entire NFL for taking a moral stand while a talented young player who punched women in the face is welcomed with open arms by the league.
“In general, with the NFL, I’m sort of done with it, I guess,” Adolfo explained. “I guess I will be going to the bars to watch most of the games, but I won’t be getting Sunday Ticket anymore. I will not buy any jerseys for me. I won’t buy any NFL gear for me. I won’t go to games unless my wife wants to go. Her NFL fandom I will support — for her.”
He concluded: “The NFL just doesn’t give a shit about you. NFL equals ‘No Fan Love.’ It’s such a corporate thing. I’m disillusioned with the NFL and how it really does its business versus the way they tell you that it does its business. I’m just fed up with the hypocrisy.”
So that’s one example of an individual who can be firmly placed in the “former” fan camp. Adolfo’s anti-Chargers slant certainly seemed to be the general vibe of the Chargers fans in San Diego shortly after the team announced that they would be leaving.
Though certain past losing seasons would have justified it for some, there hadn’t been a mass-burning of Chargers jerseys, merchandise, and memorabilia in front of the team’s offices in Murphy Canyon until January 2017, when the move was made official. To say the fans were unusually upset would be an understatement. But rewind to 2016, when the Chargers already seemed to have one foot out the door and were on their way to Los Angeles. The team had wiped any mention of “San Diego” off their official website before the NFL owners decided that the Rams would be getting the golden ticket to play in L.A. The Chargers were sent back to San Diego with their tail between their legs after striking out (at least the first time) with their L.A. fling.
And yet the fans still took them back. Will lightning strike twice in this department? Are local Chargers fans hopping back on the team’s bandwagon?
“My personal feeling on it is that I was, obviously, like a lot of us, against Spanos and his decision to go to L.A.,” True North manager (and still Chargers fan) David Villanueva Cabal explained. “But now that time has gone by, we still need a team to root for. Me, as a San Diego fan, all I’ve ever known is to root for the Chargers.”