The Qualcomm Stadium home of the San Diego Chargers was taken over by Raiders fans on Sunday, the result of Southern California Raiders fans making a bold statement to the National Football League that the Silver and Black will be well supported should they be approved for relocation to Los Angeles.
It was a powerful reminder just how popular the Raiders are in Southern California, and perhaps a prediction of the loud, immediate bang they’ll make if they move back to L.A.
Ironically, it came at the expense of the Chargers, who the Raiders have partnered with to build a privately funded stadium in Carson.
And it might be cause for the Chargers to consider taking a dramatic step to better guarantee they’ll be successful in Los Angeles.
One that will grant them and their new city the rare chance to create history together.
And who knows, maybe even strengthen their case for L.A. relocation approval.
But more on that in a bit.
The Raiders and Chargers are in a fight with the St. Louis Rams to claim two open spots in Los Angeles, with the Rams eying their own stadium project in Inglewood.
The NFL’s 32 owners are expected to decide the matter in January.
By league rule, the winning team/site requires 24 yes votes.
Fellow owners will take everything into account before making one of the most important decisions in league history, among them how well they believe each each team will be received upon entering the Los Angeles market.
Which brings us back to Sunday in San Diego, where Raiders fans made it clear the Silver and Black will be just fine.
Their deep roots in L.A. – they played here from 1982 to 1994 – and the wide-spread Raiders Nation throughout California pretty much guarantees it.
Based on some texts messages I received during the game, it’s obvious league officials took notice of what happened.
On the flip side, it was impossible not to notice how easily Qualcomm Stadium got taken over by another team’s fans.
Granted, it’s a fairly usual occurrence in San Diego, as some Chargers season ticket holders commonly sell a portion of their seats to the most popular games to help them afford to rest of the season.
But considering the current circumstances, it makes you wonder how well the Chargers will be embraced in L.A.
For the record, with 21 million people in the greater Los Angeles region and capable front office people in place to reach out to them, I frankly don’t think the Chargers will have any trouble building and holding onto a fan base over the long haul.
But it would be naive to think Chargers owner Dean Spanos and his staff aren’t debating ways to insure they hit the ground hard the moment they step foot in Los Angeles.
Those conversations have stirred plenty of interesting ideas.
Here is one they have to consider: A complete franchise makeover.
Announce to Los Angeles you are arriving in Tinseltown a clean canvas, that you are leaving the Chargers colors and logo in San Diego.
Invite fans to jump aboard a brand new franchise, literally at ground zero.
Inter-actively allow them to help pick the name, logo and color schemes.
The Dons or Conquistadors or Vaqueros, perhaps.
You want to be L.A.’s team?
Then cast a net wide enough to capture the interest and imagination of everyone, and let them help you create your new identity.
It’s been 20 years since Los Angeles had a team to root for, but even longer since we had a team that was actually born here.
Ironically that was the Chargers, who spent their first year of existence in 1960 playing at the L.A. Coliseum.
And while it would be cool to re-introduce Los Angeles to it’s long-buried relationship with the Chargers – I’ve heard they will go back to their original L.A. Chargers uniforms if they stay as is – it would be even cooler to give Los Angeles the chance to give birth to its own football team.
The Rams arrived here from Cleveland in 1946. The Raiders from Oakland in 1982. Both would make a seamless transition back to Los Angeles.
The Chargers would be the second team in town no matter who they partner with.
That’s not a bad thing, necessarily.
But by doing something bold and unique, they might just give themselves a chance to be No.1.
It’s rare when anyone gets the chance create history. But the Chargers and Los Angeles might just get that opportunity.
Take advantage of it. Embrace it. Have fun with it.
Not only will it help reel in the current Los Angeles resident who doesn’t have a specific team rooting interest, it might also motivate fans who currently support out-of-area teams to switch alliance.
I can’t see a New York Giants or Minnesota Vikings or Buffalo Bills fan living in L.A. jumping ship to the Chargers or Rams or Raiders.
But I could see them switch rooting interest if the choice was brand new team.
That’s exactly what happened when the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens.
And it could happen here, too.