With the LA Chargers’ uncertainty at quarterback heading into the 2020 offseason, Tom Brady has been a rumored free-agent target. If he ends up being the pick, it has to be due to what’s best for the team, not ticket sales.
With the impending free agency of Philip Rivers and the reports and rumors flying around of his potential departure, several quarterbacks have been suggested to potentially take over the starting job in 2020. One of the suggested names has been Tom Brady, as he himself is preparing to enter free agency.
In support of the idea of Brady being the starter, something that analysts and fans often bring up is ticket sales. It’s not exactly a secret that the Chargers haven’t done too well in terms of winning over fans in Los Angeles.
However, that was always something that was a long term goal instead of something that could be done immediately. The solution to the problem for many is bringing in Brady to sell tickets with his box office value and celebrity and create a real stranglehold on the Los Angeles market. Rich Eisen details that idea here:
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) January 29, 2020
From a marketing standpoint, it’s a genius idea. Inserting the NFL’s biggest star onto any team is a money printer if there’s ever been one. Ticket sales, personal seat licenses, jerseys, primetime games, you name it. However, there’s another pretty good way to sell tickets and that is consistently winning.
While the Chargers had winning seasons in the 2010s, they came and went without much carryover year to year. Most recently, the Chargers did have two straight winning seasons in 2017 and 2018 in Los Angeles. However, a lot of the momentum was deflated by the dismal 2019 season.
The Chargers, for what it’s worth, have had decent home games in Los Angeles before. Toward the end of the 2018 season, games against the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, and especially the Baltimore Ravens produced pretty solid home crowds.
As said before, there’s no doubt Brady would bring in some fans. But what’s the actual value of that?
Hypothetically, let’s say the Chargers have Brady for one or two years and make a deep playoff run or two. Will that carry over in Los Angeles for the long term?
The Los Angeles Rams’ attendance dipped in 2019 late in the year after getting to the Super Bowl the previous year. Los Angeles’ TV ratings haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire either, even with the Rams’ NFC Championship run and two teams in the city.
If the Chargers as an organization feel that Brady is the best option for winning, then, by all means, go for it. However, there are hesitations for me about an organization that wants to push all of its chips to the middle on something that is viewed by the public as more popularity based than what’s best for the team.
The real marketing trick the Chargers should try: consistent winning. Consider what the New England Patriots were before the Brady, Robert Kraft, and Bill Belichick era. They were a struggling team that was close to moving out of Massachusetts entirely. Now, six Super Bowls later, no one could imagine Boston sports without them.
The Chargers can simply not make a move based on popularity or ticket sales. They have made several tough decisions, some that were deemed unpopular at the time.
When it comes to the quarterback position, the Chargers may have to make an unpopular decision that isn’t a fan pleaser. At the end of the day, fame, popularity, and ticket sales can be fleeting. Winning is more important, and a Brady decision should be based on only that.