Former Chargers offensive lineman and current Chargers radio analyst Nick Hardwick was not a fan of the franchise leaving San Diego. In fact, he was outspoken against it.
That said, he doesn’t think it was a mistake.
“Absolutely not,” Hardwick said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think it’s a matter of time. When I look at fanship up in L.A. and I see the comments about USC selling out and (getting) more fans in the Coliseum than both the Rams and the Chargers home games combined – it shouldn’t really be a surprise. You’ve got a USC team that’s No. 4 in the country. You’ve got a Heisman Trophy candidate there in Sam Darnold at quarterback. They’ve got a built-in student-body population. They’ve been in the community for 125 years building trust and winning championships along the way.”
The Chargers and Rams don’t exactly have that kind of equity – at least not yet.
“When I look at fans, what fans ultimately want – and they need – is trust in the organization to invest into the organization,” Hardwick continued. “Time, money, energy, resources, emotions. For that investment, what fans are looking for is the big payoff: a Super Bowl championship. And they’re going to get their payoff in the form of a memory. I think what you have right now with the Rams and with the Chargers – the Chargers are coming off of nine wins in two years and the Rams winning four games last year – there’s not a whole lot of trust that the organizations are going to give you any return on that investment.”
The Rams are 1-1, while the Chargers are 0-2, this after losing losses to Denver and Miami by a combined five points.
San Diegans probably aren’t surprised. Nine of the Chargers’ 11 losses last season came by one possession. Six came by six points or fewer. Four came by three points or fewer. This is a team that, in recent years, has lost a lot of close games.
Thus, don’t expect San Diego hearts to travel to Los Angeles.
“I don’t think the vast majority of them are going to follow,” Hardwick said. “I think what you’re watching right now is a very tight, niche group of San Diegans who have double-downed on their fanship because they’ve had an opportunity to decide if they want to continue on, if they want to find another team, if they’re done with the NFL altogether – and the fans who have committed have really double-downed on that. The people who are staying behind are either hate-watching (or) I call some of it anxiety-watching.”
These are people who dreaded the Chargers moving to Los Angeles and having instant success.
Thus far, that hasn’t been the case.
“I think people are now relief watching as that anxiety is starting to subside,” Hardwick said. “What people are realizing is new city, new stadium, same team – at least through two weeks in the NFL.”
The Chargers play each of their next two games at home against the Chiefs (2-0) and Eagles (1-1), respectively. Sunday’s kickoff against Kansas City is slated for 4:25 p.m. ET.