Posts Tagged ‘relocation’

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Will we look back on 2016 as the start of something new? Or as another in a long list of wasted seasons?

Edit: At the time of this post, the Chargers pulled their contract offer from third overall pick Joey Bosa. He has since been signed by San Diego to a 4-year, $28.5m contract (similar contract to what was originally offered).

The San Diego Chargers are in a bad spot.

This isn’t a revelation by any means, but in a year where nearly every NFL team has a reason to be hopeful for 2016 or beyond (yes, even Cleveland), it’s worth acknowledging that San Diego is lost.

Since the great era of LaDainian Tomlinson came to a close in 2010, the Chargers have missed the playoffs in every year but one. As if consistently missing the playoffs isn’t bad enough, it’s how San Diego is failing that is giving them some serious long-term issues. Save for last year’s abysmal 4-12 campaign, the Chargers have won between 7 and 9 games since 2010, preventing them building a team through high-quality drafts. Things were looking a bit better when last year’s 4-win season finally yielded a top-5 draft pick, but they even managed to screw that up, failing to lockdown third overall pick Joey Bosa. Another 6-9 win season looms in 2016. The years following hold many questions and I fear the answers leave the city of San Diego without an NFL team.

The consistent heart, soul, and face of the Chargers has been Philip Rivers, who is in a unique position of being one of the better QBs in the league on a struggling team. He’s been remarkably healthy and successful in his career (individually, that is), playing in every game since 2006 and throwing for over 3000 yards in every season (most years over 4000). If there’s been one bright spot for Chargers fans to look for in the darkness of the past few years, it’s Rivers. But at 34, his retirement looms and the window for building a better team around him is rapidly closing. Soon, Rivers will be gone and the Chargers will be left pondering an even darker future: the search for a new franchise QB, a.k.a. the Cleveland Browns.

Another “franchise” player in Eric Weddle was let go this offseason after nine seasons with San Diego. His departure not only leaves the team with a defensive leadership hole to fill, but it revealed a level of dysfunction that is scary to realize. There was a lot of buzz about Weddle being fined by the team in 2015 for watching his daughter perform at halftime instead of joining the team in the locker room. In the following months, Weddle was extremely vocal about how poorly the Chargers front office and coach treated him in subsequent contract negotiations. The three-time Pro Bowler joined the Ravens this offseason.

Who really knows how poorly Weddle was treated, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is perception and draft picks like Bosa and countless free agents have to decide if they want to bet their career on Weddle exaggerating the truth.

As if all that doesn’t paint a bad enough picture for the future, remember the fact that San Diego narrowly evaded relocation for the upcoming season. The franchise agreed to remain in San Diego for at least one more season while they review plans for a possible move to LA (to share a stadium with the Rams) or Las Vegas. Pay close attention to the sights and sounds of the Qualcomm Stadium crowd and you’ll wonder why they cheer for a Philip Rivers interception. It’s because the seats are filled with visiting fans, so much so that you’ll see a sea of orange when they host division rival Denver. With the San Diego faithful getting drowned out in their own stadium, relocation seems inevitable and that’s any fan’s worst nightmare.

As a San Diego Charger fan, what do you realistically root for in 2016? Another 8-10 win season that leads to an encouraging playoff berth, but still leaves them floating in NFL draft purgatory? Or another bottom-dwelling campaign that grants them a chance at a total rebuild, but sends them to Los Angeles to begin that rebuild?

Philip Rivers’ final years are sliding away with nothing to show for it and how they perform in 2016 could finally determine where they go in the future, figuratively and literally.

Pretty soon, the Chargers will begin to "light up" Los Angeles.

Pretty soon, the Chargers will begin to “light up” Los Angeles.

The San Diego Chargers filed for relocation earlier this week, a huge step in the effort to place an NFL franchise in Los Angeles. While this is sad news for San Diego diehards, I have to say that the “Charger” name would fit well for a place that uses so much electricity. We don’t see such a good match that often (have you ever seen a Jaguar roaming around the streets of Jacksonville?). In the dire scenario that any other franchise is forced to relocate, it’s probably a good idea to be prepared with some fitting locations. Here’s a few ideas:

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Alaska Bears: I’m not sure why the Bears would be forced to relocate (too windy?), but if they ever are, they need to move to a place that actually has bears. Alaska would be the easy choice here as black bears are more populous in the Last Frontier than in any other state. There’s no better way to strike fear into an opponent than providing the possibility of a bear actually walking onto the field. Don’t think that’s realistic? There’s about one black bear for every three citizens in Alaska, so you’d have to think at least a couple would sneak in among a crowd of thousands. Besides, isn’t it time we put an NFL franchise in some state other than the lower 48? Alaska is the perfect place to battle the elements on the gridiron, including sub-15 degree temperatures and the potential for blizzards. After just three years, the Alaska Bears will be the toughest team in the NFL.

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Illinois Cardinals: Let’s face it: an innocent cardinal in hot, dry, desert-ridden Arizona? The very thought is absurd. Cardinals live in open woodlands and feed on insects, grain, and fruit. Where can they find that? A whole bunch of places not named Arizona. The midwest is the natural home for cardinals (you nailed it St. Louis) and is appropriately the state bird of seven states, including Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. However, the Cardinals can only belong to one home and that new home should be Illinois, the first state to hop on the redbird bandwagon and name the Northern Cardinal the official state bird in 1929. Hopefully the Bears will have relocated to Alaska just in time for Illinois to replace them with this proud and sensible franchise.

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Utah Lions: If the Lions are ever looking for a new home, they are in luck. Mountain lions live in a whole bunch of places out in the west so they could have their pick of any state from New Mexico to Washington. I think the best place for the Lions to start their new era is in Utah, home of Bryce Canyon National Park. Mountain lions are very prevalent in Bryce Canyon and using one of the most beautiful parts of your state to represent your team is a no-brainer. Utah is also home to quite the football crowd. Between the Utah Utes and BYU Cougars, over 100,000 fans flock to see college players on Saturday. Just think how many people would rush to see a professional football team! Good thing we can offer the next best thing: the Detroit Lions.

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Mississippi Dolphins: It’s only a matter of time before the Dolphins and their opponents are required to wear scuba gear to play in Miami. The sea level is rapidly rising and they need a great new place to play that’s above water, nearby, doesn’t sacrifice tradition, and still appropriately fits the “Dolphin” brand. Believe it or not, Mississippi hits all four of those points right on the bottlenose. Most of Mississippi is still centuries away from worrying about slipping into the Gulf of Mexico, so fans could rest easy knowing their team has found a permanent home. Current Miami residents and fans could even move to Mississippi with relative ease, seeing as they are only two states and a quick 11-hour drive away. And no need to worry about making any major changes to the logo or uniform; in fact, Miami traditionalists could get what they’ve always wanted and see the return of the helmet-wearing Dolphin logo. That logo has represented the team’s greatness from 1966-2012 and will start a new 46-year run in Mississippi. The “M” on the helmet doesn’t even need to be changed. It’s a match made in heaven. What turns this already good plan into a great plan is the fact that the bottlenose dolphin is the official state marine mammal of Mississippi! Dolphins fans could take pride in knowing that their new location already knows what it means to be a Dolphin. As if this is not already a perfect idea, check out this new chant they could start, “M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I Dolphins!” This is such a good fit, Miami should just make the move already before Jacksonville tries to move to Jackson, Mississippi.

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Baton Rouge Giants: Between the good matches that already exist (Houston Texans, New England Patriots) and the new ones above, it’s getting pretty tough to find good homes for new teams. Fortunately we’re not afraid to think outside the box and the Baton Rouge Giants are the epitome of that. I could think of no better place where the Giants could go on another Super Bowl run than in the city that’s home to the country’s most obese population. Baton Rouge’s obesity rate sits at 35.9% and a great football team could turn this stat of shame into a point of pride. Round up to 36% and use it as a benchmark for NFL success. It could be the opposing QB’s completion rate, the opposing offenses’ 3rd down conversion rate, or opposing kickers’ field goal percentage. The fans supporting this defensive success would be aptly-named the “13th man.” When you’re in a city where every fan is the size of two regular people, “12th man” just doesn’t seem to work. In just a matter of years, the Giants will own the entire state of Louisiana by scaring, or more realistically grossing out, the interstate rival New Orleans Saints.Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 10.56.48 PM

Alabama Bills: One of the toughest teams to relocate might be the Buffalo Bills. Their mascot has more to do with their city name than the team name. It could be really easy to just ignore them altogether and make it someone else’s problem. But that’s not right. These franchises need me and I’m up for the challenge. As for the Bills, such a tough task requires a complete organizational overhaul. Throw out the city, the logo, the colors, and everything else besides “Bills,” which we can work with. After extensive research and evaluation of many candidates, Alabama emerged as the best place for the Bills to move. Alabama residents named their babies William (Bill) more than any other name in 2014 and will therefore be raising a generation of fans that will feel directly connected to their team. More importantly, however, this state is dying for an NFL team to root for. High school and college football is so huge there, how can they not have a professional team? They’re the second most populous state without a football team besides Virginia and I don’t even count Virginia because of how close the Redskins are. Alabamians would no longer have to decide between the Titans, Saints, and Panthers to root for. They could start rooting for the Bills, a team that is named after the residents themselves instead of the other way around. Multiple fans could even identify with the team mascot, Bill. He’s a down-to-earth, southern, hard-working, football fan that counts down the days until Saturday. With the Alabama Bills in town, he can now begin counting down to Sunday.