Column as I see ’em...
The San Diego Chargers are now the Los Angeles Chargers, and while the middle of January does not pose an obvious time to feel sorry for those enjoying America’s most comfortable winter climate, losing a 56-year old sports franchise brings to mind the heartbreak of the Sonics relocating to Oklahoma after 42 seasons in Seattle.
But aside from rejected ownership pleas for public assistance toward a new venue, and the stormy-weather nicknames, there are few parallels between the Chargers and the Thunder.
San Diego’s NFL team moved 120 miles to the north, a two-hour car ride. There is also the option of boarding trains that last about 45 minutes longer than the car ride, but are stress-free and way more fun.
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The Chargers remain a SoCal team. Home games will be televised in San Diego. Fans have every right to rage against a world that stripped them of their NFL franchise, but it’s not as if the Chargers relocated to, say, Oklahoma.
Civic identity is the issue here. Since 1961, the Chargers belonged to San Diego, and in 2017 they’ll belong to Los Angeles, even though Los Angeles looks at them as that full bowl of radishes on the salad bar.
So here’s a suggestion for owner Dean Spanos: Following the premise set by baseball’s Arte Moreno, rename your franchise “The San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles."
▪ As the Chargers were moving into Rams country, the Rams announced they were hiring a head coach who.will turn 31 in a few weeks.
Sean McVay is the youngest coach in modern NFL history — a distinction that once belonged to Don Shula, who was 33 when he took control of the Baltimore Colts.
Shula went 8-6 in 1963, his first season, then won NFL Coach of the Year honors by guiding the Colts to a 12-2 finish in 1964. By the time he retired with the Miami Dolphins, Shula owned NFL coaching records for most victories (347), most games (526) and most seasons (33).
Only twice, during those 33 seasons, did Shula’s teams lose more games than they won. Remaining impervious to everything around him beyond football surely benefited Shula, who once shook hands with television star Don Johnson at a Dolphins practice.
“Pleased to meet you, coach,” the actor said. “I'm Don Johnson, from Miami Vice.”
“The honor is mine,” Shula answered. “You guys do great work.”
He presumed Don Johnson was a vice cop.
▪ Carl Edwards and I share a kinship — we both graduated from the University of Missouri — but we don’t have much else in common. He has made a living out of of driving cars, and I don’t even own one.
Still, I was saddened to learn of Edwards’ plans to quit his successful NASCAR career at the age of 37.
“It’s a risky sport, and I’m aware of the risks,” the winner of 28 races — a Top 10 finisher in virtually half his 440 starts — said last week. “I don't like how it feels to take the hits that we take and I’m a sharp guy, and I want to be sharp in 30 years. So these risks are something I want to minimize.”
▪ Tacoma’s Golden Gloves will be returning home in a few weeks. The Jan. 28 finals are scheduled for the UPS Fieldhouse, which served as the tournament site between its inception at the Tacoma Armory and more recent competitions at the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Center.
Matthew Mollet, a former junior National Golden Gloves champ representing the Tacoma Boxing Club, and Alaska’s Nino Delgado, an Olympic qualifier participant, are among the headliners. Prelims are set for Jan. 27 at the Edison Annex on So. 60th St., with the finalists advancing to the UPS Fieldhouse bouts the following day.
For ticket information, contact Greg Plancich at 253-404-0686.
▪ Staying on the topic of gut punches, the Washington football team has been hit by a flurry of them. Early jumpers to the NFL include receiver John Ross, cornerback Sidney Jones, safety Budda Baker and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls.
But defensive end Vita Vea, a 6-foot-5, 332-pound force projected as a second-round draft pick, has decided to stay through his fourth year of college eligibility. A star both on the field and in the classroom, Vea will team up with the sensational Azeem Victor to make Pac-12 starting quarterbacks regret their status as Pac-12 starting quarterbacks.
An early prognostication delivered with fingers crossed: The V and V duo will lead the Huskies to 12 wins, and maybe more.