Los Angeles Chargers: NFL teams have struggled early after moving to new cities
By Travis Wakeman
The Los Angeles Chargers are still going to be playing home games in the state of California. The move from San Diego to LA is just about a two-hour drive north.
However, playing in L.A. will be a completely different world as compared to playing in San Diego.
The Chargers are going to be presented with plenty of roadblocks in 2017. From moving to Los Angeles and trying to create a fan base, to the adjustment of playing in a 30,000-seat soccer stadium, to playing for a rookie head coach. They also play in the AFC West, a competitive division in which they’ve finished in last place in each of the last two seasons.
But that’s not all. The Chargers will also be playing against history.
NFL teams playing their first year in a new city have found success to be hard to come by. Of course, there’s been the expansion teams. Seattle, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Jacksonville all struggled to stay competitive as they came into the league. That was to be expected.
But let’s take a look at those teams that have chosen to relocate. I am only going to talk about the teams that have moved to a new city since 1984, so you won’t hear about the Cleveland Rams, Boston Redskins or Chicago Cardinals here.
Baltimore Colts: In a move in which the franchise literally left during the middle of the night, Robert Irsay decided to move his team from Baltimore to Indianapolis prior to the start of the 1984 season. The Colts went 4-12 that season and made just one playoff appearance in their first 10 years in Indy. The team was usually looked at as one of the league’s whipping boys, a team that you should beat. That was the case all the way up until it drafted Peyton Manning No. 1 overall in 1998.
St. Louis Cardinals: From 1960-87, the Cardinals played games in St. Louis. Prior to the 1988 season, the team decided to move further west and became known as the Phoenix Cardinals before settling on Arizona Cardinals. In their first six seasons in their new home, the Cardinals went 32-64 and didn’t look like a team that was trying to compete.
Los Angeles Raiders: Former owner Al Davis moved his team from Oakland to LA and then back to Oakland. The team played in LA from 1982-94 and won a Super Bowl while making the playoffs in seven of 13 seasons during that stretch. Upon moving back to Oakland, the same Raiders team missed the playoffs five years in a row.
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Los Angeles Rams: The Rams struggled mightily during their last several years in LA, and when the Raiders left for Oakland, the Rams joined them, heading for St. Louis. Before Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the rest of the “Greatest Show on Turf”, the Rams won just 34 percent of their games during their first four years in St. Louis.
Cleveland Browns: Former owner Art Modell took the heart right out of Cleveland when he moved the franchise to Baltimore following the 1995 season. He not only moved the team, he completely re-branded it as well. The Baltimore Ravens were born and though the team won the Super Bowl in 2000, it also went a combined 24-39-1 in its first four seasons in Baltimore.
The Browns were awarded a new franchise in 1999. Considered an expansion team that was a continuance of the original Browns, we all know how bad this team has been. The Browns went 2-14 in their return season to the league and have made just one playoff appearance since coming back.
Houston Oilers: The Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans in 1997 and the team wasn’t exactly terrible. But they weren’t great, either, going 8-8 in each of the first two seasons in Nashville. However, the team made the Super Bowl in 1999 and fought the St. Louis Rams to a near victory.
St. Louis Rams: The Rams went back to LA after the 2015 season and needless to say, they were one of the league’s most inept teams, going 4-12.
San Diego Chargers: So where does this all leave the Chargers? Will they go the way that all of these other teams did, at least at first, or is this all just historical mumbo jumbo? For the reasons listed at the top of the conversation, finding early success in LA is going to be much easier said than done.
Teams like the Titans and Ravens found themselves in Super Bowls after three-four years. Is that a realistic timetable? Or are the Chargers going to have a longer, more sustained struggle such as the Browns?