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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Open Letter to Chargers Fans

January 18, 2017

Dear San Diego Chargers fans: I feel your pain. I was a diehard St. Louis Rams fan. I lived and (mostly) died with every play. When the Patriots (allegedly, yeah right) cheated the Rams out of a Super Bowl, I moped around for a week as if a family member died.

Joe Harris

By Joe Harris

Joe Harris has been the St. Louis reporter for Courthouse News Service since July 2005. He covers the courts in the eastern half of Missouri and all statewide political issues.

Dear San Diego Chargers fans:

I feel your pain. I was a diehard St. Louis Rams fan. I lived and (mostly) died with every play. When the Patriots (allegedly, yeah right) cheated the Rams out of a Super Bowl, I moped around for a week as if a family member died.

I was you a year ago. I can empathize with your feelings of anger, disbelief and sadness. I understand the dazed fog you are walking around in today.

I was there a year ago.

Trust me, it will get better … especially after you realize this cold, hard fact: Neither you, nor your city did anything wrong. You are just collateral damage in E. Stanley Kroenke’s never-ending quest of greed.

We in St. Louis are well aware of Kroenke. He was born and raised in Missouri. His mother was such a big Cardinals fan she named him after her two favorite ballplayers, Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial.

Kroenke has disgraced the names of those St. Louis icons. For me and most of the good people of his native state, the E. in his name doesn’t stand for Enos, it stands for Evil.

Kroenke is smart. His power play last year forced the NFL’s hand while tapping into the greed of its owners.

He forced the L.A. issue and strong-armed his stadium plan through, despite never entering into good faith negotiations with St. Louis or Missouri leaders. He and his wing man, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, with help from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a middle finger to Missouri leaders who fast-tracked $450 million in public funding for a riverfront stadium.

The glitz and glamour of L.A. was too much to pass up.

Kroenke torched the St. Louis region’s economic prospects using doctored statistics in a report to the NFL just before the vote. St. Louis’ dire economic reality didn’t stop Kroenke from asking for millions of Missouri public dollars for a retail development a month after the Rams’ move. There’s a good glimpse into his character.

As part of the league’s decision to approve the Rams’ stadium proposal, the Chargers were given a year to decide to move in with the Rams as a tenant. That’s what happened last week.

The Chargers would still be in San Diego if it weren’t for Kroenke’s and the NFL’s greed. Owner Dean Spanos had been trying for 15 years to get a deal in San Diego. He wanted to stay. The NFL gave him no choice.

For Spanos, it was either put his limited chips on the table and try to tap into L.A.’s gold, or get left behind.

You Chargers fans didn’t matter. Just as we Rams fans didn’t matter. We are all collateral damage in the NFL’s insatiable quest for cash.

To paraphrase the words of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, hogs get slaughtered. And we’re starting to see it with the NFL.

TV ratings are down. Fans are getting tired of a watered-down product, penalty-laden games, horrible quarterbacking and coaching. and half-assed political statements by guys with brain damage.

Here in St. Louis we enjoy hate-watching the Rams. My new favorite team is whoever is playing them.

Their homecoming to L.A. bombed worse than anything in our wildest dreams. In one season, head coach Jeff Fisher got fired, after banning Rams icon Eric Dickerson for (gasp!) criticizing the team after the rest of the nation realized he sucked as a coach. The best thing is that he signed a two-year extension before the season, meaning Kroenke had to pay him to go away.

The team took five steps backward on the field. No. 1 pick Jared Goff isn’t reminding anyone of Kurt Warner and stud running back Todd Gurley called the team’s play-calling a junior varsity offense.

And on Friday, the Rams hired Sean McVay as their new head coach. McVay, 30, is the youngest head coach in NFL history.

Good luck with that sad sack roster and no draft picks next year, Boy Wonder!

The L.A. fans showed their true colors, by not showing up at all. St. Louis had better attendance with one-tenth the population, but we’re just a baseball town — right?

San Diego fans will have the best of both worlds. If you choose to continue to follow the Chargers, you can. They only moved a two-hour drive away. Our team moved halfway across the country. Get over and enjoy your road trips.

But if you chose to hate-watch, there are several things to look forward to.

They will be playing in the 30,000-seat Stub Hub Center in Carson. You can start a pool on which week the fair-weather L.A. fans will not sell it out.

Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers is on record as saying he doesn’t want to play in L.A., so there is that drama.

They will always be the red-headed stepchild in the L.A. sports scene, behind the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, Angels, Ducks, Clippers, Rams, USC and UCLA.

And of course, they will always be the Chargers, and that brings its own special kind of mediocrity.

So either way, you win. Keep your head up, San Diego!

Follow @@joeharris_stl
Categories / Op-Ed, Sports

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