SAN DIEGO — Chargers fans knew for several years this dreaded day could be coming, their beloved NFL team might move up the freeway to tap the perceived riches of Los Angeles.
That didn’t make it any easier Thursday, when the San Diego Chargers ceased to exist after 56 seasons.
They’re now the Los Angeles Chargers, set to join the recently relocated Rams to give the nation’s second-largest media market two NFL teams for the first time since 1994.
Team chairman Dean Spanos, who tried to move to L.A. a year earlier, announced the move to his employees at a morning meeting at Chargers Park. At the same time, the team posted a letter on its Twitter account, which was rebranded as the Los Angeles Chargers.
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Just like that, decades’ worth of Sunday afternoons spent cheering original AFL stars Lance Alworth and Keith Lincoln; Air Coryell guys like Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner; and on through to Junior Seau and LaDainian Tomlinson, became even more distant — and now bittersweet — memories.
The Chargers were born in Los Angeles in 1960 and were moved to San Diego the following year by Barron Hilton. They gave San Diego a unique identity, with the distinctive lightning-bolt logo on their helmets and powder-blue jerseys. Alworth, known as “Bambi,” and Keith Lincoln, the “Moose of the Palouse,” helped deliver the 1963 AFL title, the city’s only major championship.
In a statement, Spanos lauded the passion of the fans. “But today, we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers,” he said.
The move had been in the works for years as a long, bitter saga failed to result in a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the Chargers could have worked out their differences on financing a new stadium but the team insisted on more taxpayer money than the city could agree to spend.
“In sports, teams win and individuals lose. The Chargers were ultimately never willing to work with us as a team so we could achieve shared success,” Faulconer said. “Dean Spanos made a bad decision, and he will regret it. San Diego didn’t lose the Chargers. The Chargers just lost San Diego.”
The newest L.A. franchise is in negotiations with former Bills interim head coach and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to take over the Chargers.
Rams hire 30-year-old coach
LOS ANGELES — The Rams made Sean McVay the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, and he appears to be getting some experienced help.
The Rams hired McVay, who turns 31 on Jan. 24. Several hours later,ESPN.com reported the Rams have finalized a deal with 69-year-old Wade Phillips to be their defensive coordinator, though the team declined to confirm it.
McVay has been Washington’s offensive coordinator since 2014. He will replace Jeff Fisher, who was fired 13 games into the Rams’ homecoming season in Los Angeles, and interim head coach John Fassel, who led the Rams to a 4-12 finish.
McVay spent the past three seasons as Jay Gruden’s offensive coordinator with Washington. He has been an assistant since 2010 in Washington, where he worked with Gruden and Bill Callahan to build a prolific offense.
McVay’s most important task is likely to be the transformation of the No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Jared Goff, into a star.
• The Arizona Cardinals re-signed defensive tackle Josh Mauro to a two-year contract.
• Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Matt Burke was promoted to defensive coordinator as a replacement for Vance Joseph, the Denver Broncos’ new head coach.