By TIM DAHLBERG
For once, Roger Goodell was right. Dean Spanos did everything he could.
Everything he could to fleece the people of San Diego. Everything he could to alienate a fan base that remained far more loyal than he deserved until the bitter end.
Everything he could to pretend he cared about those fans when all he really wanted was a new stadium and the extra millions it would bring.
Yes, relocation is painful, as Goodell noted in his statement blessing the Chargers’ move to Los Angeles. Fortunately for Spanos, the pain of leaving San Diego will be lessened by the opportunity to sell personal seat licenses some 100 miles north.
As for the pain felt by those left behind? So long suckers!
The Chargers are moving to Los Angeles, which greeted the news Thursday with a collective yawn. No dancing in the streets, no long lines to buy jerseys with that spiffy new LA logo.
No pep rally, either, though that was understandable. Might have been embarrassing if they held one and no one showed up.
They did show up at Chargers headquarters in San Diego, but there wasn’t much cheering going on. Instead, fans gathered to toss their Chargers jerseys and other team paraphernalia into a growing pile of trash to show their disgust over having their team of 56 years taken from them.
Greed can be a funny thing. Blinded by it, Spanos and his minions were able to justify ripping a team from the fabric of a community for over a half-century
Blinded by it, they’re taking the Chargers into a city where they have no following and to a new stadium where they will play second fiddle to the Rams.
A city that doesn’t need – or seemingly want – a second NFL team.
Indeed, the Raiders moving to LA would have made a lot more sense. They played there for years and have a ready-made fan base that really would have been dancing in the streets had their team been returning.
The Chargers are, well, just the Chargers. They have no Super Bowl crowns, and no real pedigree to speak of.
Nothing to get excited about in laid-back LA, even if their new logo looks suspiciously like the one featured on Dodger hats.
The move is perplexing at best, especially if Spanos ends up having to pay his fellow owners a $650 million relocation fee to move. That might have been money the team could have put toward a new stadium in San Diego – along with $300 million from the NFL – had it not been so obsessed with getting taxpayers to fund it.
But greed usually wins out. And the fact is the team Spanos owns will be far more valuable in Los Angeles than in the smaller market of San Diego.
Then again, maybe Spanos just felt he had no choice. After all, how could any self-respecting NFL owner even show his face among fellow owners if he failed at the same kind of extortion that has served the league so well in city after city around the country.
San Diego said no, with residents voting in November against a tax hike for a downtown stadium. City officials were never terribly eager to empty their wallets for the team, perhaps because the last time they bailed out the Chargers in the 1990s the deal required the city to buy any unsold tickets to games for 10 years.
The money isn’t there in Oakland, either, to pay for a new stadium for the Raiders. It is in Las Vegas, though, where tourists will shoulder $750 million in new taxes to lure the Raiders to a new stadium just off the glittering Strip.
The NFL is in the midst of its biggest relocation shift, with three teams possibly leaving their longtime homes within a few years of each other. The league is doing it with its typical arrogance, seemingly without fear of alienating entire cities to the product.
That kind of arrogance makes it easy to rationalize leaving a city of fans behind because they didn’t cough up enough money for a glittering new stadium. The kind of arrogance displayed by announcing the move on Twitter, and unveiling a new logo surely in the works even as the Chargers left fans dangling on their intentions.
Just like that, the Chargers left town, heading up Interstate 5 without even saying goodbye.
Leaving behind a stadium and fans who just weren’t good enough for the NFL.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg