For the long-serving Chargers, yesterday’s final practice of minicamp wasn’t just cause for relief, it was a time to reflect.
Because after wrapping up their final practice at Chargers Park, they’re now officially out of business in San Diego.
Quarterback Philip Rivers was one of the last players off the field, lingering for a few moments with the place he spent 13 years before packing up for the drive north to their new facility in Costa Mesa.
“I had sweaty hands and I was nervous before practice, and I was like, ‘What is wrong with me?’” Rivers said, via Eric Williams of ESPN.com. “Going into the last minicamp in Year 14 and here I am nervous before going out there is a little ridiculous. But it was because of the fact that I’m not walking out that door with a helmet in my hand again.”
The move is six months in the making, but the finality of it was still striking to tight end Antonio Gates, who arrived a year before Rivers.
“It’s a bittersweet moment because obviously the memories are still here, and they will forever be here for myself and guys that have been around,” Gates said. “It’s just one of those things where we need to take time out to say thank you to San Diego, and the fans that have been here to support us.
“But at the same time I’m excited to move to L.A. I’m excited about the new change. And hopefully they’ll welcome us with open arms and embrace us. And we can win some games, and win a championship.”
Of course, that transition could take some time, as the Chargers will be playing in a 30,000-seat soccer stadium for the next three years, and then sharing a stadium with the Rams. So while future wins could create a new legacy, that old bond may never return.