A few months ago I wrote about my sadness when it was announced that the San Diego Chargers were to become no more and move back to Los Angeles. At first I unsure of whether this relocation would affect my fandom: like many I felt cheated, abandoned, and ultimately hurt at the decision, especially when it seemed so clearly motivated by money.
It called into question whether I still wanted to support a franchise that acted with such careless disregard for those who loved it. Maybe it was time to cut ties with the organisation and look to another team. There are plenty of teams in the NFL that I could have got behind, so I made myself a set of stipulations if I was to change allegiances.
Firstly, I cannot jump on a bandwagon. If I want success, I have to earn it and go through some rough before I get to the smooth. No recent Super Bowl appearances or consistent play-off games. This ruled out the Patriots, Falcons, Packers, Steelers, Broncos, Panthers, Cardinals, Giants, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
Next, I took away any immediate rivals to the Chargers, thus helping me eliminate the Chiefs and Raiders, both of whom could also have been classed as bandwagon teams.
There are some teams which I just have an innate dislike for no discernible reason. Maybe it’s a player, their uniforms, or the fact that they wronged me in past life. Funnily enough, a lot of these teams come from cities I actually really love. So it’s goodbye to the Eagles, Jets, Saints, Colts, 49ers, Lions, and Ravens. Sorry guys.
Already I’d whittled an initial 31 down to a more manageable 12. But this is where things were about to get tough, and I’d have to pick out the smallest flaws if I wanted to end up with a champion. The Redskins were an easy target (it’s 2017, please change your name). The Bucs, Bengals, and Jaguars all suffered a similar uniform related fate despite liking a number of their players. The Dolphins had to go because my flatmate supports them – we can’t have that much teal in one house – and the Texans blandness were reason enough for me to say goodbye to them.
In what was a tough decision, I cut ties with the Vikings because I have a real issue with human mascots – they’re not as cool as animals, and I get freaked out by people with massive heads. The Rams were my next victim despite having a perennial soft-spot for them: I couldn’t get rid of one new LA team to support another.
So here I was, with a final four. The Bills, Titans, Bears, and Browns. This was going to be a challenge. Despite my love of powder blue and Marcus Mariota, I have a deep-rooted hatred of country music (please don’t hurt me Titans fans), and so could not find myself supporting a team based in Tennessee.
The arrival of Mike Glennon was the nail in the coffin for the Bears. Jay Cutler at least gave me some hope and plenty of entertainment, while Glennon fills me with neither.
It was now a straight shoot-out. I’d always liked both of these teams and wanted them to succeed if my beloved Chargers were unable to fulfil my dreams. As it turns out, these two franchises were even more hopeless than my original love.
Regardless, this was a marathon, not a sprint and so I buckled down to do some serious research in the hope that one team would rise victoriously from San Diego’s ashes.
But neither did. I liked both. I liked the players. I liked the uniforms (yes, even the Browns). And I liked the cities, with their harsh winters and die-hard fans. I didn’t love them though. The more I learnt, the more I realised that I had a greater emotional attachment to the Chargers than I first thought.
It wasn’t San Diego that had made me love the Chargers (although I’ve heard it’s lovely), it was the players. Watching LT was my reason for becoming a fan, and it’s the likes of Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Melvin Ingram, Keenan Allen, and Joey Bosa that keep me as one. If I were a native things would undoubtedly be different, but I come at the NFL as an outsider. I’m not supporting a city, I’m supporting a team.
Image courtesy of Leandro Neumann Ciuffo (flickr)