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Dean Spanos is the Worst Owner in Professional Sports

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He’s been a complete embarrassment for years now.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dean Spanos has long been a terrible owner. He became the president of the San Diego Chargers in 1994 and during the time he was in charge he oversaw some of the most embarrassing moments in the franchise’s history. On two separate occasions, his complete lack of leadership led to situations in which he was forced to choose between his head coach and his general manager. Both times he made the wrong choice.

He has always been a man that would rather make a decision one year too late rather than one year too early and the team has suffered for it. Both Norv Turner and Mike McCoy were fired at least a year too late. In the subsequent coaching searches, he insisted on retaining existing staff because he was either too stupid to realize they were part of the problem or because he was too cheap to eat the cost of their contracts.

Over the last 15 years, he claimed to be working on getting a stadium built in San Diego, but only one plan ever made it to the ballot. And that plan was a farce. There was little to no public input and it never had a chance of success. I don’t want to suggest that the city of San Diego’s leadership is blameless here because they’re not, but I do acknowledge that it is difficult to do a deal with a bumbling fool.

It’s not merely Spanos’ incompetence that undercut his ability to get a deal done, though. He also never put in any of the effort needed to give a stadium plan a chance. In one morning, Dean Spanos spent more time talking to Los Angeles media than he did in promoting the effort to build a stadium in San Diego over the previous two years.

The Spanos family is worth over $2 billion on paper, but they apparently lack the actual funds to own and operate an NFL team. Thanks to his years of feckless leadership, the Chargers found themselves in a situation where they had a stadium they could not play in much longer but not enough money to build a new one in San Diego or pay to relocate to Los Angeles. It takes an amazing amount poor decision making to become cash poor when you own an NFL franchise for decades.

After decades of his own mismanagement of the organization, Spanos publicly turned the reins over to his equally unqualified offspring (though his handprints are still visible on many of the failings that have continued to pile up). The results have been what you would expect. On the football side of things, the Chargers have won nine games in two seasons. Off the field, the team has remained an embarrassment. Witness the remarkably poor handling of the announcement to move and the hilariously stupid logo reveal. When even other professional teams across the sports landscape are openly mocking you, that’s telling.

Many of the repeated failures we have had to witness as Chargers fans during Spanos’ tenure are the sort of things you could overlook if they were the occasional missteps of a legitimate organization. But the Chargers’ missteps have not been occasional. They have been continuous. And the Chargers are not a legitimate organization. They are a terribly run franchise that cannot help but reflect its leadership at every level. Dean Spanos’ smug idiocy and barely concealed contempt for the fans has been clearly communicated by his public relations department (who can forget the chill pill fiasco?). And his complete unwillingness to accept responsibility for his own failures was surely reflected in the attitudes of the coaching staff, specifically the recently fired Mike McCoy and the long since overdue for firing John Pagano (although it appears they fired Pagano and let him know through the press because the Spanos family is pure class).

For those Chargers fans that will be able to let go of the team now that it has moved to Los Angeles, at least they will be rid of the embarrassment that is Dean Spanos.