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Farewell, San Diego Chargers

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The Chargers left San Diego, it was finally real last Saturday

Carson, California – It’s almost 4 pm, my girlfriend and I are pulling up to StubHub Center to watch the Chargers/Rams joint practice. While I am not a season ticket holder, I was fortunate to get my hands on a pair of tickets. We are waiting at the light to turn into the parking lot (with very little traffic) and there are signs and banners that read “StubHub Center, Home of the Los Angeles Chargers.” Home of the Los Angeles Chargers… I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. It felt rushed. Google hasn’t even updated the Home of the Los Angeles Chargers.

All I know is that driving in and blasting the “San Diego Super Chargers” fight song would never be the same.

As a lifelong Chargers fan, and as a San Diego native, all I’ve known is the San Diego Chargers. My first Chargers memory was back in 1994 when the Chargers made it to Super Bowl XXIX, it was the same year my dad upgraded our TV to a big screen. I was almost five, I can’t remember every down or every snap, but I do remember cheering anytime Junior Seau made a play. It definitely wasn’t the outcome of the game or the fact that the Chargers were in the Super Bowl that made me a Chargers fan, I had no idea what that meant at that age. It was the feeling of friends and family all squeezed in at my parent’s house for one reason, to cheer on the San Diego Chargers.

That nostalgia is gone. Rather, it’s a sense of acceptance, but that seems to be the motto when it comes to the Chargers. The Chargers moving to LA hurt as badly as the Marlon McCree fumble.

A missed Nate Kaeding kick in the playoffs?

Yeah, just as bad. It’s not the first time being a Chargers fan led to some level of disappointment (on a scale to OK to WTF) and I just had to accept it and move on. Some may not understand where this comes from because you either just became a Chargers fan or you’re not from San Diego, which is fine. However, to me, it was hard to beat the feeling of being a San Diego Chargers fan for the last 20 years. I have been through the ups and downs with this team, so remaining a Chargers fan (now that they are in Los Angeles) is just another chapter.

While I sat at the light in front of the new home of the Los Angeles Chargers, I think that is when I accepted that this was just a part of the journey as a Chargers fan. The light turned green and we turned into the parking lot. It wasn’t like driving into Qualcomm’s giant parking lot where fans were packed in and tailgating. We drove in and were sent winding around the StubHub Center to find our parking spot, located just in front of California State University, Dominguez Hills. After checking in, we took a quick look around the StubHub Center. Overall, it’s a lot smaller than Qualcomm, but we all knew that. They were selling Chargers merchandise at the LA Galaxy merchandise shop, which I found funny. This was my first time ever at the StubHub Center, but my girlfriend had been there before (she’s a native Los Angelian). The whole experience was new to me so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We found our seats (located on the west side), which almost seemed like field seats at Qualcomm. If you go to StubHub, sit on the west side. Trust me, you’ll save money on sunscreen and won’t bake in the blazing sun. As the practice started up, I looked around and about half of the stadium was full, packed mostly with Chargers fans (I did spot one Raiders fan there). I can see the Chargers finally selling out a game at StubHub, which shouldn’t be hard given that they now have about 2/3 less seating than they did at Qualcomm (27,000 compared to 70, 561). The practice went well. Joey Bosa is unstoppable, Melvin Ingram actually reached the quarterback, and the offense wasn’t a complete disaster (I don’t mean that as a dig, but no offense should be running on all cylinders under a new HC during preseason). Overall, the experience was good. I can see the StubHub Center being a fun time for the next few years and at least StubHub has up-to-date jumbotrons that actually display visible video. I would have to say the most interesting thing that day was that there was already trash talking between a Rams fan and a few Chargers fans. I don’t think there’s a rivalry, but there must be some bad blood for two fan bases (both new to LA) to start beefing at a joint practice event… we talkin’ ‘bout practice.

The move to LA has diminished some of that nostalgic feeling I described earlier, but it won’t take away the fact that I’m a Chargers fan. LaDainian Tomlinson being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame reminded me of why I’m a Chargers fan. I’ll never forget LT’s juke on Ty Law. I understand how Spanos has pushed away a fan base, I was one of those fans. For a while, I kept saying that I was not going to be a Chargers fan for the exact same reason Spanos moved the team. It was a “business decision” and I no longer wanted to contribute to Spanos’ business; however, I moved on because in the big picture I don’t know where this team will end up and I cannot let go of the years and connection I have with this team. How could I just forget the memories that Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers, LT, and others created? Junior Seau contributed to many memories. Growing up in Vista (10 minutes from Oceanside) meant going to the beach in the summer and passing by Junior’s beach house. My friends and I would stop by and see Junior grilling, strumming his guitar, or coming back in from surfing. The impact he had on San Diego was great and as a San Diego Chargers fan, I was proud to be part of that tradition. I can say I am a Los Angeles Chargers fan and admittedly it’s a bit exciting to see how things will end up; however, I am a San Diego Chargers fan at heart. Nothing will replace that feeling.