When NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters this week that there have been “no discussions” about the Chargers possibly returning to San Diego, he wasn’t as dismissive as maybe he could have been about a possible re-relocation. Indeed, merely stating that there have been “no discussions” implies that there could be discussions in the future.
An unnamed Chargers official has given Ian Rapoport of NFL Media a more clear position on the matter: “We’re not going back.”
The decision to remain off the record seems odd, frankly, because the source should be willing to say it loudly and proudly. Providing the quote anonymously creates the impression that there’s something sensitive or controversial about the notion that the Chargers have left San Diego and aren’t looking back. Anything other than an unequivocal and unconditional “of course we’re not going back” creates the vague impression that, well, maybe they will.
And maybe they want to create the vague impression that, well, maybe they will. Maybe some San Diego fans start to become a little more interested in the team, if there’s a chance that the team comes home. And maybe it ultimately will be the best business decision for the team to make, if the eventual move to the new stadium in Inglewood, which will give rise to constant apples-to-apples comparisons between Rams and Chargers attendance, results in conspicuously empty seats and/or a 50-50 split between Chargers fans and fans of whichever team they’re playing.
Of course, there wouldn’t be anything easy about a move, especially since Rams owner Stan Kroenke may not be inclined to rip up a lease agreement that ties the Chargers to Kroenke’s stadium for 20 years. While the fact that Kroenke is one of the league’s owners could make him more inclined to cut the Chargers some slack, he’s surely not going to just walk away from 10 days per year of revenue generation at a $2.6 billion stadium that he’s paying for on his own. Getting him to let the Chargers walk wouldn’t be easy or automatic.
Regardless, the Chargers would be wise to keep all options open. Which could be why the Chargers have yet to officially change their “Fight For L.A.” slogan to “Here To Stay In L.A.” or maybe, more fittingly, “To Live And Die In L.A.” or maybe, even more fittingly, “To Live Or Die In L.A.”