Welcome to the era of brazen thievery at the behest of our sniveling and shriveled rapidly aging but refusing-to-ever-die corporate overlords…and how to do something about it.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Thursday night as the clock struck midnight — the exact same time the GOP-led senate was repealing Obamacare 51-48 which will set the stage for insurance companies (why do we even have insurance companies besides cool talking ducks and lizards and their social media presence anyway?) to determine pricing, because when corporations have absolute control that works out for everyone, and drop those with pre-existing conditions, literally handing out a death sentence to millions — San Diego Chargers’ Los Angeles Chargers of Los Angeles owner Dean Spanos, at the behest of the 31 other pinkie-to-the-lip NFL owner consortium, spirited his team away from their hometown of 56 years to somewhere in South Central Los Angeles that public transit doesn’t know how to find and most Uber drivers won’t dare go.

Just like that, gone.

Gone like Dufresne with warden Samuel Norton’s spit-polished shoes. Season ticket holders be damned. Longtime fans, pfft. Thanks for the support and for, you know, buying pink socks in October, but your services are no longer needed. Oh, sorry about Junior, he deserved better.

Los Angeles, which got along just fine, thank you, for a pair of decades and change without the NFL, now has a pair of derelict franchises whose claims to fame include power blue alt jerseys and a lot of sun-bleached seats through the years.

The Rams, who returned to Los Angeles after 21 seasons in St. Louis this season, averaged a 9.4 ratings share on TV (down more than a point) and filled about 89.4% of their interim stadium. The only other team that drew under 90% was, you guessed it, the Chargers. No amount of slo-mo runs out of the tunnel, confetti cannons, high kicks and hair whips can hide that kind of ambivalence.

Los Angeles suddenly shouldering a pair of NFL teams is kind of like if two new In-N-Outs recently opened in the LA Basin, one in Redondo and one in Reseda. People would line up and go, because, you know, it’s there. But nobody would really notice if they weren’t there either.

But none of that really matters. The Spanos family, suddenly homeless, answered Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke’s Craigslist roommate wanted ad: “Building a $2.6 billion stadium near Randy’s Donuts, looking for someone to sublease on weekends I’m not using. Non-smokers preferred. Clean, 420 OK though. Aramark included, no cats. Service dogs OK, ruff! $650 mil. No nego. Won’t last!!!”

As an aside, I get how be stressful and expensive moving is but shouldn’t the clan Spanos have dedicated a portion of their relocation windfall to at least hire a five-star logo designer off Fiverr. “I will design yer GREAT NFL logo in 18 minutes!”
Neither the Rams nor the Chargers nor the rest of the NFL ownership look for the LA moves to boost support for either team or be a boon at the gate. As long as TV money keeps dumping in like diapers in landfill and suckers like DirecTV stay in business (a big “if” at this point — especially as nobody 30 or younger has cable/satellite) and don’t welsh on their 12-year, $18 billion contract, the owners’ coffers will stay full whether a single fan shows or no.

Frankly, most Angelinos would rather snuggle up on the couch to a borrowed SAG copy of La La Land, group text that they saw Fred Armisen walking the world’s cutest Corgi-Aussie mix around Frogtown and check the 20 of the The Lobos Truck. Football? Ha. Who gives a fuck.

The NFL may not be acting worried, but they should be. By 2018 (if we’re all still around) the Millennial cohort will have the most buying power in the world. And guess what? Catching NFL action ranks somewhere between eating cereal and using fossil fuels as things they want no part of.

In a recent study, more than 80% of Millennials stated that they were less trusting of the NFL than basketball, baseball, hockey or NASCAR. Yes, you read that right even NASCAR (though someone should tell them the cars aren’t self-driving or electric.) Out of those surveyed in the study, 61% identified the NFL as a “sleazy” organization, while 54% saw it as being anti-gay.

Truly, if this trend continues, it feels like one Epcot Center-size 16-stadium mega complex in Vegas for fans 40 and older who still think wearing a tent-sized jersey is a thing will be the answer for the NFL and its Prilosec-popping base. A 24-hour tailgating and gambling mecca, all games can be going on simultaneously and food court offerings will reflect the origin cities. “Let’s walk over to Buffalo Zone for some wings or the Green Bay Country for cheese curds. Just stay away from the Raider Nation Experience…those guys are awful.” A single homogenized NFL encampment, snow games totally optional.

If that doesn’t sound like you, well, maybe follow the example of the young ones and cut the cord, push away from the table. Don’t watch. Don’t buy. Don’t insult. Live a life of simplicity and purpose. Go outside as often as you can. Move your body. Find a profession where you create or help, or both. Only drive when necessary. Stop yelling. Look your children in the eye. Eat what you grow. Get to know your neighbor. Make the bed every morning. Shorten up those showers. Put the money for a new phone in the bank instead. Pay in cash. Tip better. Don’t be the first to let go of a hug or a handshake. Make sure you do an activity that gets you dirty at least once a weekend. Cry more and laugh harder. Hold the door. Give up your place in line and buy and use a pair of work gloves.

I went cold turkey on the NFL two years ago after then Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice cold-cocked his fiance in an elevator and, frankly, weekends took on a new meaning of possibility immediately. As a side bonus, I no longer have any accidental Carrie Underwood in my life.

Join me Charger fans, you may find it works out just fine.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of the novellaBurgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.