Through the wonders of science, we know there are galaxies, systems, and planets far from Earth capable of life. Alternate universes, if your thought process or imagination allows. (Quick caveat: There are literally thousands of wildly more important things that could have been announced today on this planet or any other; like a worldwide peace treaty or, ahem, a new leader of the free world). But, here’s what Dean Spanos’ press conference might have sounded like today on Kepler-186f.
“As many of you know, today I was planning on announcing a franchise move of the Chargers from San Diego to Los Angeles. … But, after a sleepless night, much consideration and, ultimately, a change of heart … I’ve decided to keep the Chargers in San Diego, where this team belongs.
“I know this will come as a shock to lots of people, including those close to me in this organization. But this is the direction we must go, for many reasons, though first and foremost: It’s the right thing to do.
“Now, that’s not a phrase you hear from many NFL owners. And, if you do, it’s generally self-serving bullshit. As a quick aside, today’s press conference will be quite candid. I feel the time is right for that. And that’s what our employees, fans and other fans around the league deserve.
“On that note: I’d like to get some things out of the way. Staying in San Diego has been a decision I’ve been sitting on for awhile, as you all know. But I’ve received almost no support from my fellow owners or the commissioner. When I let it be known that I’d like to stay in San Diego and that more taxpayer money would not be forthcoming, my fellow owners were silent. And, this may not surprise most of you: Roger Goodell was incapable of moving the owners on this issue. Let’s not forget: They stabbed me in the back last year on the Carson deal.
“As a loyal owner, I didn’t want to break from the NFL owners’ silent pact and established M.O. of taxpayer-funded stadium projects. But, free of that burden, I was able to choose the path that I felt would be the most morally conscious.
“So, I’m announcing today, that I will seek to work with the mayor of San Diego and the City Council in signing a 50-year lease in exchange for land, probably in Mission Valley, and will pursue the avenue of building a new stadium almost solely through team funds, in a similar fashion to what the San Francisco Giants have done with AT&T Park.
“This may sound naïve, and it breaks from the owners’ long-standing tradition of saying that things like this are a ‘business decision,’ but sometimes life is about more than business or the bottom line. This is one of those times.
“I’ve watched ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Scrooge’ and even ‘Elf’ over the recent holiday season, and I can say that I was moved. That’s not what I wanted my legacy to be in San Diego, or in life. Like Zalinsky from ‘Tommy Boy’ for all of the Chris Farley fans out there.
“I couldn’t imagine myself standing before you today, using the excuse that because Measure C didn’t pass, the fans don’t care about this team. Measure C was a sham, we can all admit that now. Goodell had a statement prepared that would have said, ‘For more than a decade, the San Diego Chargers have worked diligently toward a finding a local stadium solution.’ But, really, I’ve just had my hand out. We all know that, too.
“Additionally, I looked into the future as a businessman and concluded this wouldn’t be the best move for the long-term bottom line of the Chargers. Without a strong fanbase, which the traditionally fickle L.A. market is known for, and with a relocation fee of more than a half-billion dollars, I decided it would be more feasible to remain in San Diego.
“I mean, I’m not selling this team, I want my sons and grandsons to run it, so franchise value doesn’t really matter unless we start shaving off shares. And it doesn’t really make sense to pay the relocation fee instead of just building here, right? Anyway, who wants to be the Clippers of the NFL?
“And, as an NFL owner, I have the ability to build a stadium on my own with only minimal help from city or county funds. I’ve long known this. All of the other owners know this and have the ability to do so, as well. The fact that most of us have asked for large sums of taxpayer money is shameful. For that, and for some of my actions over the last 15 years, I would like to apologize.
“Who knows what’s in store for the future of the NFL? Some like to estimate unending financial growth, but I don’t believe that’s possible in a sport that will struggle for an international audience. As cord-cutting continues and TV channels search for advertising dollars, league media rights may not continue at their current rate. Without a strong fanbase and ticket sales, I concluded this franchise could be in long-term jeopardy. In addition, I can see that the tide has turned on taxpayer-funded stadium initiatives, perhaps outside of Arlington, Texas. This is not what the people want.
“I also saw the Los Angeles Chargers logo and, not to throw our design team under the bus, that thing is bad. It’s like the Dodgers and Tampa Bay Lightning logos had a baby for a C-minus project in a first-year college class.
“Instead, I’m investing in the fans of the San Diego Chargers. For years, NFL owners have, excuse my French, shit on their fans. Full-price tickets for preseason games. Exorbitant costs for poor game-day experiences. PSLs. … I mean, that’s just the OPTION to buy season tickets, right? That’s crazy, even I accept that.
“Well, that’s not happening anymore; this team will not take advantage of its fans any longer. Again, that may sound naïve to others around the NFL, but we will find creative, fan-friendly ways to generate revenue. There can be a happy medium. I don’t know if that day of reckoning has happened across the league yet, but it has come for me personally. Things will be changing from now on.
“Also: The San Diego Chargers will begin an initiative to treat our players better. The concussion issue is real. I will challenge our training and medical staffs to be on the cutting edge. In turn, this will be a place that players will seek out. There will be no more Eli Manning situations.
“And another note: This doesn’t have to come at the cost of winning. I’ve cited the San Francisco Giants baseball team. You know about their success. And besides, the NFL has a salary cap. If team revenues are affecting players’ salaries, you shouldn’t own a professional football team.
“Lastly, I would like to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ Me and those in my employ have not always negotiated in good faith. We have indeed leveraged the fans’ love of the team for more taxpayer money at nearly every turn, in a flagrant effort to improve our own financial well-being. It’s been pretty blatant. I mean, I’m pretty sure even Mr. Potter would’ve sprung for a new scoreboard at the Murph at some point in the last 15 years.
“Continuing on: While the council members and mayors we have negotiated with have often had their own best interests in mind, so have we. Which brings me to another reason to build a new stadium with little public money: A man has to realize his limitations and I’m not very good at public relations or politics. Those are games I have lost over the last 15 years, which have eroded the public’s faith in me and this franchise. I would like to begin to reverse that.
“In the words of Clark Griswold’s boss from ‘Christmas Vacation’: ‘Sometimes things look good on paper, but lose their luster when you see how it affects real folks. I guess a healthy bottom line doesn’t mean much if, to get it, you have to hurt the ones you depend on. It’s people that make the difference. Little people, like you.’ ”