Compared to friends, I’m a newbie when tracking the Chargers. They stretch to the Balboa Stadium era and yes, I’m jealous.
I’ve kept an eye on the Bolts only since 1992.
So when talking about the worst outcome in Chargers history, my recollections are somewhat limited. I started when coach Bobby Ross arrived with a Southern accent and a compass pointed toward the Super Bowl.
The folksy Ross reached Super Bowl 19 and the Chargers were crushed by the 49ers.
That stinging defeat was the good old days compared to this week.
Remember the historically bad 2000 season of 1-15?
That would be cause for celebration.
Recall the drafting and disaster that was Ryan Leaf?
That was a franchise high water mark.
We jest, of course, but not by much.
Terrible Tuesday will long live in Chargers lore, a day in which the Chargers’ brass was annihilated.
The NFL owners gathered in Houston to decide the Los Angeles relocation issue. When it was over, San Diego had a problem.
While paying our respects to David Bowie, we paraphrase one of his best lines: “NFL to Chargers: Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong.’’
Welcome to the Chargers’ world, which crashed with a thud.
The NFL eyed the Chargers and Raiders owners, Dean Spanos and Mark Davis, respectively, and rolled their eyes.
Why would a collection of billionaires — many of which are self-made men — entrust the L.A. market to two spoon-fed guys? When the league reached the fork in the L.A. road, they rejected the Spanos-Davis Carson plan, going with the owner clutching the biggest pile of cash.
That is Stan Kroenke and his vision of turning Inglewood into NFL’s Disneyland.
In the aftermath, Spanos looked like Grumpy.
Despite the option of joining Kroenke, Spanos isn’t the winner here.
Spanos, given another $100 million by the NFL to help his San Diego chances, has no leverage in America’s Finest City.
San Diego knows Spanos hates climbing into a bed with Kroenke. Spanos builds apartments for a living, but being a tenant to Kroenke makes his stomach turn.
Spanos has no leverage with the wealthy Kroenke, as he doesn’t need or necessarily want his money.
So Spanos’ office remains in Murphy Canyon, but really, he’s between a rock and a-not-so-soft place.
Spanos could make nice with San Diego — after a year of trashing its proposals — and swing a deal. But Spanos isn’t down with what the city wants — a Mission Valley stadium.
And the powerful hoteliers, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s biggest contributors, aren’t cool with a downtown venue — what Spanos seeks.
Finding common ground in S.D. is as likely as Mike McCoy being named coach of the year after going 4-12.
Plus, Faulconer said any deal to shower the Chargers with $350 million of taxpayer funds will be put to a vote.
Getting approval to enrich a billionaire owner in a $15 billion industry was always a stretch. After being disrespected by Spanos for a year, after yet another dismal season — Spanos has 12 winning years since 1984 — are those same citizens are going to flip their position?
Me don’t think so, either.
What we know is Spanos overplayed his hand. He bought into the narrative of how he was beloved by the owners and they would do him right.
Instead the owners did what they always do: embrace a future cash cow — Mr. Kroenke, your table is ready.
This drama isn’t over, but it is. The Chargers, knowing they poisoned a voting well which was never deep, will head north with their tail between their legs.
For Spanos it’s off to Hollywood, following a script that had the worst possible ending.
Contact Jay Paris at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports
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. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports