KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sunday’s matchup between the Chiefs and San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium marks the 111th meeting for the two teams and caps off the two-game series for the AFC West rivals.
And the game carries interest off the football field because it remains to be seen if the Chargers will play home games at Qaulcomm Stadium in 2016.
San Diego is among three NFL cities – Oakland and St. Louis the other two – vying for relocation to Los Angeles, a city where the Chargers first played in 1960.
The Chargers are mired in a losing season at 3-9, but the uncertainty of the future apparently hasn’t played a role in the disappointing campaign.
“For the most part, that’s just a blame game in my opinion,” longtime Chargers tight end Antonio Gates said in a conference call with Chiefs beat writers. “I don’t think it’s a distraction.
“All I do know is that we have four games here and one game left in the stadium that I’ve been playing in for 13 years. And I feel like we need to make the most of what we have instead of concerning ourselves with what our future home is because we have no control over that.”
Chargers coach Mike McCoy said in a conference call the subject of relocation was discussed among staff and players throughout the offseason to keep the focus where it belongs.
“We have a job to do and that’s to go out there and perform on Sundays and win football games,” McCoy said. “Other people make those decisions, so we’ve got to go out there and do our jobs. That’s really been the whole message, but that’s the way we’ve approached it every week this year.”
Relocation was a heavy topic of discussion at the recent league meeting held in Dallas on Dec. 2.
And the NFL sent a letter on Dec. 4 to the city leaders from San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis requesting that stadium proposals be submitted to the Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities no later than Dec. 30.
With teams allowed to apply for relocation on Jan. 4, 2016, the NFL is holding a special league meeting on Jan. 12 and 13 to review potential applications.
A vote, which requires 24 owners to pass, may or may not occur at that time.
“We don’t even have a relocation proposal,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters in Dallas on Dec. 2. “Those can’t be submitted until January 4th. We’ll make a determination at that point in time, but I know that the ownership spent a great deal of time saying that it’s important for us to address this matter. Address it in a deliberate fashion, but also make sure that we make a decision as soon as possible.”
Whether the Chargers – or even Raiders – stay in the AFC West following a potential move to Los Angeles hasn’t been determined.
Regardless what happens with a move, Chiefs rookie linebacker D.J. Alexander, a native of Palm Desert, Calif., thinks not having an NFL team in San Diego would take some getting used to.
“It will be weird,” Alexander said. “I mean, they’ve always been there.”
Alexander said he grew up rooting for the Chicago Bears, but most of his friends while growing up rooted for the team that played home games just two hours from Palm Desert.
“I went to school with a lot of guys that love the Chargers,” Alexander said. “Where I lived, mainly they were all Chargers fans.”
Chiefs rookie tight end Brian Parker got his start with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Albany before joining the Chiefs on Sept. 6 after being claimed off waivers.
Parker said there is plenty to do outside of football in San Diego if the Chargers relocate and he believed the fans would eventually move on.
But he agreed with Alexander that it would be odd to not have an NFL team in San Diego and Parker is aware of the uncertainty from his short time with the Chargers.
“When I was there, we didn’t really know too much about what was going on,” Parker said. “I talked to some of the players when we were out there a few weeks ago and they still don’t know what’s going on. Whatever happens, happens. If they move, there’s a reason for that move.”
In the meantime, the Chargers head coach prefers for his team to keep the business side away from the field and concentrate on weekly opponents.
“I’ve got a job to do to lead this organization,” McCoy said. “Each week you go in trying to win a football game, so the Chiefs are our No. 1 focus.”