Is your tissue ready for the Chargers last game in San Diego?
That could be Sunday, when the Bolts entertain the Kansas City Chiefs and haven’t we been here before?
Afraid so, but this season’s final home contest for the local 11 doesn’t have the same emotional pull as last year’s.
The Chargers, upset taxpayers won’t fund a stadium, are likely headed some 130 miles north. They’ll settle in the nation’s No. 2 market and be rebranded as the L.A. Sigalerts, L.A. Brown Haze or South Bay Spanoses.
Although just like last year, we have no idea if the beeping backup sounds of moving vans will reverberate throughout Chargers Park.
What we do know is we can’t go again to where we were in 2015.
It was an emotional, melancholy sendoff after a win against the Miami Dolphins to cap last season’s home schedule. The post-game scene was a wake, funeral, celebration and hug-the-fan-next-to-you kind of an event.
The players were all misty eyed and sentimental, too.
Eric Weddle was forming snow angels at midfield, minus the snow.
Coach Mike McCoy — how much longer will we write that? — worked those hanging from the rails like a savvy politician.
Philip Rivers signed everything pushed his direction.
The fellas in pads and grass-stained pants waved good-bye and the separation, which was nearly six decades in the making, was complete.
And then it wasn’t.
The Chargers returned with a yearlong version of Groundhog’s Day.
It’s been 12 months of a failed stadium proposition, of threats, of holding a fan base hostage, of acting in a way that corporations trying to woo patrons would never consider.
Those backing the last-place Bolts (5-10) are weary. They’re tired of being blamed for not supporting a team that will miss the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.
They are beat-down from watching their team get beat up by everyone from the world champion Denver Broncos to the winless Cleveland Browns.
The Chargers are a disaster, on and off the field, which brings us to Sunday.
Rivers reflected on what a difference a year makes.
“It was a wide range of emotions because I think it was mostly good memories that you had really thinking of in that stadium in games that come to mind,” Rivers said. “And, shoot, I felt like it was truly the last time I was ever going to step foot in there.
“So it was kind of all that bottled up into one, and we won a game in what was a tough year with what was only our fourth win after a lot of tough losses. But I just don’t know if you can say, ‘Oh, let’s do that all over again,’ even though we are kind of in the same boat. You only get one shot at that. And it was pretty special. I don’t think you can try and reenact that.”
It’s the Chargers, and the fans’ version, of one-and-done. While ticket prices on the secondary market for that Dolphins game were in triple digits, a seat could be had for $35 for Sunday.
The Chargers have paid a dear price for the shoddy product they have presented. But their alienation of a passionate fan base has come more from their action off the field than on it.
There have been many years in which the Chargers haven’t shined. Since the Spanos family bought the franchise in 1984, they have zero Super Bowl titles and just 12 winning seasons.
But it was the salt in the faithful’s wounds that caused many to turn away from the Bolts. While Sunday may be the swan song, few Chargers patrons will be signing praises for this wobbly organization.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his book “Game of My Life Chargers” which is available at local book stores and amazon.com.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly.