It was just about 56 years ago when a San Diego newspaper reporter wrote that the city could have the Los Angeles Chargers for the asking.
There are not many people who remember the Los Angeles Chargers. The team existed for one year, 1960, and played at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Los Angeles Rams franchise in the NFL was well established, there was college football and Major League Baseball’s Dodgers caught the imagination of the local sports fans. There really was no competition from basketball or hockey. But the Chargers owner Barron Hilton found out quickly, it didn’t matter if there was any competition or not, Los Angeles was not paying any attention to his team in the rival American Football League. Hilton’s Chargers made it to the AFL Championship Game against the Houston Oilers.
Paul Maguire who played with Los Angeles and was one of the few who played in all 10 seasons the AFL existed had some fond memories of the Los Angeles Chargers.
“In fact, in 1960, the Los Angeles Chargers played the Houston Oilers in the Los Angeles Coliseum. We were the Los Angeles Chargers. If we win the game, we win the Western Division and there are 8,000 people in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
“It was like people who came everyday just to see if something was going on. They actually stopped the start of the game, ABC did it at the time, they moved all the people to the other side so when they had punts or passes, there were people there in the stands. It was crazy. If you look at the attendance there was 8,042 people there.”
Maguire said that players should have loved the AFL because it gave them a chance.
“It made John Brodie a millionaire, he has to love the AFL,” said Maguire talking about the AFL’s pre-merger strategy by 1966 to sign established NFL quarterbacks like the 49ers quarterback of the mid-1960s to strengthen the league. “The AFL gave everybody a chance.
It gave players a chance to play. Anything that creates jobs can’t be all bad.
“We didn’t make a lot of money and everybody made about the same. Everybody had a good time, we were all friends. It worked. It was absolutely crazy but it was fun. I played 11 years, I made $9,000 the first year and $25,000 the last year but it was never important.”
The Los Angeles Chargers may spring back to life in 2017.
Will Phillip Rivers be a member of the San Diego Chargers in 2017 or the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 or play for some other team in the NFL?