The sign on the front of the building still says “San Diego Chargers.”
The players on the practice field on Monday were Los Angeles Chargers.
In one of the awkward twists of relocation, the Chargers began offseason workouts on Monday in the city they called home for 56 seasons before team Chairman Dean Spanos decided to move because the voters rejected his demand for a new stadium.
Coming off two dreadful seasons, there’s much more to do than just getting in shape and adjusting to a new coaching staff.
Tight end Antonio Gates is selling his house in suburban Poway.
Quarterback Philip Rivers is still trying to decide whether to move his wife and eight kids or stay put and deal with the commute.
Running back Melvin Gordon has been checking out Orange County.
The Bolts will be here through June, when their lease at Chargers Park expires and they’ll move to their temporary headquarters in Costa Mesa.
“It’s weird in a sense but then it’s not, because it’s just what we’ve always done,” Rivers said. “It felt just like any other start to an offseason program other than again a new staff and coming off a tough season. For the most part it felt the same.”
But Rivers knows it will be emotional for the old-timers when the offseason program wraps up and the Chargers’ time in San Diego truly ends.
He’s already thought ahead to the last time he’ll walks out the door he first entered as a rookie in 2004.
“That’s the thing. This is where we’ve spent all our time over the last 13 years. This is where I’ve spent more hours, next to my house, has been right here,” Rivers said.
“I think the tail end of this program will be emotional in the sense of how many hours and how many balls and how many times you’ve practiced on this field and how many balls you’ve thrown and all those things.”
Fans have mostly reacted angrily to Spanos’ decision to move. Some say they’re done with the NFL, period. Others say they’ll support the team while remaining angry at Spanos.
Rivers said he’s received positive feedback from fans he’s encountered.
“They’re really been overly gracious, really, and kind, they really have,” Rivers said. “As I’ve shared many times my thankfulness to this community and the people here, that’s been kind of the sentiment from them over the last few months, just around town. Certainly I’ve appreciated that interaction.”
Gordon, who rebounded from a miserable rookie season in 2015 to become a Pro Bowler last year, has been getting the scouting report on possible new places to live.
“Just trying to familiarize myself with the area. Don’t know it too well,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy. I just learned this area, really got at it and now we’ve got to go.”
After winning just nine games combined the past two seasons, the Chargers fired coach Mike McCoy and hired Anthony Lynn from the Buffalo Bills.
The next home game in franchise history will be at the 27,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson, 111 miles from aging Qualcomm Stadium that the Chargers are abandoning. It’s a two-hour drive under the best of circumstances, which, on Southern California freeways, rarely exist.
The Chargers will begin playing in 2019 in the new stadium that Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood.
Gates and Gordon know it’s tough for the fans.
“At the end of the day we’re Chargers,” Gordon said. “We just hope they can still have that love for us. Tough relationship, but bring it on back.”