NFL football had to come back to Los Angeles. Way too much money was left on the table with no NFL team in America’s second-largest television market. For 20 years the only NFL football in California was in San Diego and the Bay Area. The league moved the Rams back to Los Angeles in 2016 and the Chargers the following year. A palace was constructed in Inglewood, Calif., as those teams’ home stadium for the start of the 2020 season, but opposing fans litter the place every game. That goes double for a Monday Night Football matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys.
The Chargers played their expansion 1960 AFL season in Los Angeles. They moved to San Diego the next year. The people of San Diego voted against a new stadium in 2016, and by Week 1 of the 2017 season the Chargers were playing home games at a South Los Angeles County MLS stadium. No home crowd roar was capable of drowning out the Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on Monday night. In fact, the crowd noise was a bit of a disadvantage for the Chargers. However, a woman located in one of the luxury box sections might be the spark that the franchise needs to rally a new fan base.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the MNF broadcast panned to a woman in glasses and wearing a Justin Herbert jersey. I cannot prove that she was the most intense Chargers fan amongst the 70,000 people in the crowd, but production crews at nationally televised events tend to make good choices when it comes to featuring audience members. Also, I have lived in Los Angeles for five years and met only two Chargers fans who are not originally from San Diego.
The cameras came back to her after the Chargers tied the game back with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. She was so amped at that point that her glasses were gone and would not return. The broadcast went back to her several times, including when she was disappointed with her hands on her cheeks after the Cowboys took the lead and eventually went on to win, 20-17. In a stadium full of Cowboy colors, a woman in Chargers powder blue became one of the faces of the game. This is the moment the Los Angeles Chargers have been waiting for. They have finally found their Clipper Darrell.
Sitting in the box may not be the same as Clipper Darrell or Fireman Ed leading chants from the stands of Jets games, but the Chargers need something. The Rams are having a hard enough time reeling in fans. SoFi is swamped with San Francisco 49ers red whenever the two teams play against each other, but at least the Rams played nearly 50 years in the Los Angeles area before moving to St. Louis — although they played in Orange County from 1980-94 which allowed the Raiders to cultivate an LA fan base.
The Chargers are the co-tenant of a spectacular building, in a metropolitan area that was their home for a single season before most current NFL fans were born. They need a spark and this woman is the person to provide it.
So what if they lost the game, the Chargers have been stuck in a perpetual one-possession deficit after the two-minute warning since Philip Rivers only had six kids. If this woman is going to be the face of Charger fandom, those fourth-quarter two-minute drills are a part of the package.
Sometimes Justin Herbert will lead the Chargers to victory and other times he will throw an interception in his own territory. The leaders of Chargers Nation have to be ready to celebrate a six-point win against the Miami Dolphins, and endure the exasperation of blowing a 27-point lead in a playoff game at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Time will tell if this fan is capable of leading Charger Nation into battle Sunday after Sunday, but it’s clear that the camera loves her. And if any team is in need of a fan that television cameras regularly seek out, it is the Los Angeles Chargers.
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