Sources: NFL "Shocked" At How Poorly Chargers Have Been Received In L.A.
The NFL is "living with a situation much more troubling in the short term than any it escaped in fleeing St. Louis and San Diego the past two offseasons," as the league is "shocked at how far south things have gone already for the relocated Chargers," according to sources cited by Don Banks of THE ATHLETIC. A source said of the Chargers, “It just doesn’t feel like we’ve created any forward momentum there, instead we’ve created negative momentum. There should be some novelty to the whole thing, but it doesn’t feel like that." Combined with the Rams' attendance (56,612) for their loss to the Redskins at L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Week 2, the NFL’s "collective draw on the first day that both L.A. teams played at home simultaneously was an underwhelming 81,993 -- about 3,000 fewer fans" than attended Texas-USC at the Coliseum on Saturday. A source said, "The optics are miserable with the Coliseum holding 56,000 for the Rams the day after USC plays to 84,000. That’s never a spot the NFL wants to be in." Banks noted while the league remains convinced L.A. has "tremendous long-term potential" once the new Inglewood stadium is "up and running, given how much it will increase the projected value of both teams and the league itself, the short term is painful." Banks: "Can anything be done to change the equation while the countdown to 2020 continues? Are there any short-term fixes for what looks to be an untenable situation for the Chargers, whose plight risks doing damage to the Rams’ effort to re-introduce the market to NFL football?" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/19). THE MMQB's Albert Breer wrote the Rams' and Chargers' low attendance figures were not a "good look in the NFL’s second year back in L.A., or for its first Sunday with two games there" since '94 (MMQB.SI.com, 9/21).
MARKET SHARE: Showtime’s Boomer Esiason said, “The San Diego Chargers are the San Diego Chargers, not the L.A. Chargers, I don't care what anybody says. I think there’s blowback, I think there's disgust by San Diegans. ... I don't think they're going to fit in there right away. The only way they will fit in and get something going is if they start winning.” Showtime’s Phil Simms said, “They have to hang in there. When they build that new stadium, they will come. The stadium will be unbelievable. ... I'm convinced in this L.A. market with these two teams out there, it will work out.” Esiason: “If you put a winning team in that sexy stadium, they will come see it” (“Inside the NFL,” Showtime, 9/19). In L.A., Bill Plaschke wrote the national narrative is "not about the Rams and Chargers, but about the empty seats surrounding them," and whether L.A. is a "good sports town." But L.A. "didn’t ask for the Rams." It "refused to pay" for them. L.A.'s sports landscape "survived 22 years just fine without the Rams," so when the team spent its first season "accruing only four wins and firing their coach while playing dull football, potential fans turned their backs." Plaschke: "It’s not about the fans, it’s about the Rams. And, of course, it’s not about the fans, it’s about the Chargers." L.A. has "scant historical or geographical connection to the Chargers." They are a team of "strangers from another market who can only sell one thing, and that’s winning, and so far they are 0-2" (L.A. TIMES, 9/20).