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This is how San Diego gets screwed

It looks like the Chargers and Rams are headed for a marriage in Inglewood, if you believe the rumors, and that means very bad news for San Diego football fans.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you were reading Peter King's article at The MMQB today, you may have noticed this rather startling paragraph.

News item: The NFL seems likely to move ahead with a plan to put two teams in Los Angeles, with the Chargers heavy favorites to be one. So many complications. San Diego owner Dean Spanos wants badly to move to Carson, where the Chargers would either be a lone team or a partner with another one. The Chargers do not want to be Stan Kroenke's tenant in Inglewood. There are a number of ways this could go when the full ownership meets in Houston beginning Tuesday. I still think the most likely scenario is the Chargers and Rams moving to Los Angeles, with one of the most golden of parachutes being set up for the Raiders to return to Oakland with the makings of a sweet stadium deal for them in the East Bay. "Whoever is not going to Los Angeles," said one official familiar with the league's thinking, "will be generously taken care of. The league will create a safety net for that team."


That certainly seems like a win-win-win, right?

The Rams get to move into their mega-stadium in Inglewood, and don't have to compete with the brand recognition of the Raiders in Los Angeles.

The Raiders get to stay in their home market, and get enough money to help the city of Oakland build a reasonably-sized stadium to keep the team.

The Chargers get to move to Los Angeles, get a stadium built without a vote and without taxpayer money, and don't lose the San Diego market to a new team.

In theory, this lets the Raiders keep their NorCal fans, lets the Chargers keep their San Diego fans, and lets the Rams build the palace that they want. The Rams get to bring back their old L.A. Rams fans, and work on converting L.A.'s Raiders fanbase into Rams fans.

Here's what the L.A. Times had to say:

On the brink of a vote that could return the NFL to Los Angeles, a consensus is building within the league for the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers to share a stadium in Inglewood.

Multiple league officials and owners not involved with the Inglewood project, or the competing proposal in Carson, say there is momentum to pair the two franchises in what one owner describes as a "transformational" project backed by the Rams.

The Chargers and Oakland Raiders want to build a stadium in Carson, and to this point, Chargers owner Dean Spanos has stood by his partnership with Raiders owner Mark Davis.

The league insiders, who spoke on the condition they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, say Spanos doesn't want to be seen as turning his back on a partner. This makes the path to what is emerging as the preferred pairing more difficult. But the insiders believe the matter can be resolved during the special meeting that starts Tuesday in Houston, where owners hope to find an answer to the two-decade L.A. vacancy.


The only thing that could possibly save San Diego at this point would be Dean Spanos' ego and stubbornness bungling this opportunity to put his family on a different plane of existence for the foreseeable future. While Spanos may not want to be seen as turning his back on Davis, it will be easy for him to walk away from the Raiders if Mark Davis gets a "golden parachute" and gives Dean the okay to move on without him.

As Darren Smith laid out on his radio show today, this is a best-case scenario for Dean Spanos and the NFL. No conference or division realignment is necessary, a nice little Los Angeles vs. Northern California rivalry can start in both conferences, and the two teams in L.A. don't have to compete for the southern California market with a team in San Diego.

In the end, that's what San Diego's position has become: A potential headache for the owners in Los Angeles.

Any NFL teams that try to move to San Diego in the future will be shut down by the all-powerful Spanos and Kroenke partnership, who won't want to compete with anyone else in southern California.

That, I believe, is what will eventually convince Dean to strike a deal with Kroenke. Not just the oodles of money, but knowing that he could be a part of the most powerful duo of owners/partner in the entire league for the remainder of his life. He can shape the game, and its money, in almost any way he wishes. Power is always sexier than money.

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Dean is playing a totally new leverage game. Pushing off Kroenke until Davis gets paid, then pushing him off some more until the terms of the agreement are very favorable to the Chargers, knowing that the Rams probably won't be able to move to Los Angeles without him.

Dean Spanos and Mark Fabiani have played this game perfectly, and they'll end up sitting pretty in Los Angeles soon.

The only one getting screwed here is the San Diego Chargers fans. They'll never get another NFL team in San Diego. They'll be left with the choice to root for a team that plays a two-hour drive away (like most of the country), or to root for nobody at all.