After a rocky offseason that included a trade request and eventually a raise with incentives, Austin Ekeler started the 2023 season with a bang. Ekeler headlined a potent rushing attack for the LA Chargers that appeared set up for big things for the rest of the season.
The only problem was that Ekeler suffered an ankle injury late in the game vs. the Miami Dolphins. Ekeler did not practice at all the next week, did not travel with the team to Tennessee, and has not practiced leading up to Week 3's matchup.
Ekeler is not practicing on Friday as all signs are pointing to him missing at least one more game with the injury. While it is totally fair for Ekeler and the team to be patient with his ankle injury this early in the season, some fans have come up with wildly unfair theories about why Ekeler is actually missing games.
This is a theory that a portion of the fanbase seems to share, with some getting upset at Ekeler for "intentionally" missing time to get back at the Chargers for the contract negotiations this offseason.
Chargers fans' wild theory is completely unfair to Austin Ekeler
We were hoping that this was just sarcasm but the number of tweets that are bashing Ekeler for this makes it clear that this is not sarcasm. Some fans actually think that Ekeler is doing this to get back at the Chargers for the offseason.
This makes absolutely no sense on multiple levels. The most obvious reason why this makes no sense is the fact that the Chargers gave him incentives on his contract to earn more this season. Ekeler is not going to sit out and lose an opportunity to make millions because of sheer pettiness.
It also isn't the competitor that Ekeler is. Even after all of the contract issues and the trade request in the offseason he still showed up and was there every single day during Chargers training camp. Sure, he is unhappy with his pay, but he has done everything possible to be professional about it. Questioning whether or not an injury is real is a slap in his face.
Would Ekeler have laced it up and maybe toughed it out if the Chargers were in the playoffs? Maybe. But that is obviously a much different circumstance than Week 2 and Week 3 of the season. This has nothing to do with what happened in the offseason and some fans need to get that out of their heads.