(Editor's Note: Chris Reed is a professional actor that you may know from Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Bones, or The Big Bang Theory. He's also a die-hard San Diego Chargers fan, so I let him write this open letter to Dean Spanos.)
To Dean Spanos,
We met once, during my only time on an NFL sideline a few years ago. I was wearing a powder blue Kris Dielman #68. My name is Chris Reed, I look like i could play one of your lineman in a movie, if they were way too fat and also bad at football. That night was huge for me. I had met Eric Weddle and his agent, David, a few months prior and we became friends. I was pumped for the coming year. Weddle and the D had some continuity with John Pagano staying on; the team had an exciting new coach and the best quarterback in the league not named Brady. But nothing from that night topped meeting the owner of the team I have loved nearly all my life.
How long ago it seems,
Sports fans born in San Diego during my generation had a lot to be proud of as we came of age in the 90's. Tony Gwynn was a legend on a hopeful Padres squad with new ownership that would bring us Steve Finley, Greg Vaughn and Ken Caminiti. San Diego Icon Junior Seau, Bobby Ross and Stan the Man led the Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance. I broke my ankle in December of that season and had been way bummed, but the Bolts' run through the playoffs thrilled me. I made sure they used baby blue plaster on my cast. When Dennis Gibson knocked down the Pass and with it, the Steelers, my Dad painted a lightning bolt on it and we went to the Pep Rally the week before the big game. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life. I wheeled down the ramps of Jack Murphy Stadium like Tom Cruise racing wheelchairs in Days of Thunder. Hundreds of strangers signed my cast. Natrone Means tried to rap; I recall hearing "cotton candy sweet as gold, Chargers going to the Super Bowl!!!" I may have misheard, regardless, as a rapper Natrone was a helluva Running Back. My disappointment when the team got smoked by Steve Young and Jerry Rice was tempered by my joy that they were there in the first place.
Those days don't merely seem in the past, they feel lost. Like an ancient legend.
The landscape of San Diego fandom is nightmarish. John Moores was able to pocket hundreds of millions from his downtown stadium before dumping the Pads into San Diego Bay, nearly a broken franchise. We've watched Bruce Bochy win 9 World Series titles. Drew Brees won a Super Bowl. Worst of all, and losing games doesn't at all compare, many of our heroes are dead. Cammie. Junior. Then Tony. Think about that. Every San Diego sports fan born in the 80's saw our childhood idols die young. I well up just saying their names.
It's been tough, Mr. Spanos, but what's kept us going is the hope that comes with very new season. I've always said that the San Diego Chargers will one day be Champions, and I will be there when it happens; to reap the reward that years of disappointment have left me and the entire city well prepared for.
Now this. You have directed a sadistic soap opera of greed and dragged it out like a scared dog on a leash. At the last home game versus Miami, you should've put on a Bane mask and threatened the fans with nuclear annihilation at halftime. If you're gonna be a villain, commit. Production value, dude. It's why Kroenke is now King of Inglewood and you're Stannis Baratheon; perhaps rightful heir to LA, but not ready for primetime.
4 years ago my work moved me up to LA. I still went to games down in SD. When I told folks up here I was a Chargers fan, I was near-universally met with ridicule. I wore my Dielman jersey on set once in the 3 years I worked on Sons of Anarchy, powder blue below and SOA cut above. I was booed by the crew.
Mr. Spanos, they don't want you here. You must know this. Your actions suggest you intend to move anyway. If you do, please let San Diego keep the Chargers name. Hire a better PR firm, relaunch yourself as a new brand up here. Pander to Hollywood. Rename the team! How about the Los Angeles Stars? They'll eat that shit up in this town. It would fair to both you and San Diego. You get to protect the interests of your Empire and San Diego can become the Cleveland Browns v2.0, continuing our proud tradition of hopeful misery.
Of course, there's another option. If you decide being a villain is no longer your cup of tea, know there are ways out. Darth Vader is the greatest villain of all time, yet he was a hero by the end of the story. A downtown stadium, convention center project (maybe with a Marine Corps Museum, which longtime UT sportswriter Nick Canepa has championed) would be a concrete testament to you and your decision to save football in San Diego. I went to Ray Kroc Middle school, whose namesake is rightfully credited as saving our Padres. He's loved around here.
I know you've already got schools named after you, Dean. We only have one team.
Either let San Diegans keep the good memories and change the name, or let San Diego keep the team. Yeah, you'll lose a billion dollars, but you already have enough money to keep you and your family in a separate class from the masses for generations. Money isn't even fucking real, Dean.
The San Diego Chargers are real. At least until you choose.
Christopher Douglas Reed