Austin Ekeler has had a busy offseason in 2023. After a great season on the field for the LA Chargers, Ekeler requested permission to seek out a trade after he and the Chargers could not come to terms on an extension. A dead running back market kept Ekeler in LA, where the Chargers gave him new incentives to earn more in 2023.
Throughout the entire process, Ekeler has not been shy in sharing what he wanted and expected to get. Ekeler ultimately didn't get what he wanted because of the bigger picture with the running back market and in his first appearance back with the team in mini camp, he did not look like someone who wanted to be there.
On day two of mini camp Ekeler spoke to the media and confirmed his frustrations with the running back market while also explaining his motivation. Ekeler was simply trying to maximize his value, which is something that every Chargers fan should be able to respect.
However, some fans are finding it hard to respect Ekeler's desires and the way he went about it when he continues to drop polarizing quotes. That is exactly what happened on Wednesday as Ekeler called his last year with the Chargers an "obligation". It is hard to blame any fan for being rubbed the wrong way by this Ekeler quote.
Austin Ekeler digs bigger hole with Chargers fans
Ekeler being so transparent and candid about his situation is commendable and while he likely didn't mean to upset Chargers fans with this quote, it is hard to say something like this and then be shocked when fans don't respond favorably to it.
Ekeler was already on thin ice with most fans to begin with. The contract situation certainly didn't help but it all started when Ekeler went on 'Undisputed' and allowed Skip Bayless to rip into Justin Herbert with no real counter. A lot of fans drew their line in the sand after that appearance and quotes like this do not help Ekeler's cause.
It will be interesting to see how the fanbase reacts to Ekeler during the 2023 season. Many will still support him, as they should, but if Ekeler even has an ounce of disappointment this season then all of his polarizing quotes from the offseason are going to come back to make him look foolish.
At the end of the day, it benefits everyone if Ekeler just puts his head down, accomplishes his incentives and helps the Chargers win football games. Winning is the most important thing, at the end of the day, even if it is just an obligation for some.