Why this Chargers fan flew to Houston to save football in San Diego
As the San Diego Chargers continue to explore the possibility of a return to Los Angeles, many fans have expressed their anger and dismay over the potential move.
But few, if any, have been as loyal to the cause of keeping the Chargers in San Diego as 18-year-old La Jolla resident Richie Farley, who flew from California to Houston, the site of Tuesday's NFL owners' meetings, just to protest the vote that could decide his favorite team's fate.
"I did it mainly because I'm too dedicated and too passionate about the team," Farley told FOX Sports in a phone interview Wednesday. "I really wanted to see a solution in San Diego, and I'm one of the organizers of Save Our Bolts, and that's pretty much our message. We're fighting with every bit of effort that we can."
Dressed in a Save Our Bolts T-shirt and Chargers beanie, and holding a Save Our Bolts sign, Farley arrived at the Westin Houston Memorial City early Tuesday morning before the meetings began and remained outside the hotel until after the meetings concluded.
Farley was the only Chargers fan there to protest the move -- there was also a sizeable Oakland Raiders contingent and a handful of St. Louis Rams fans -- but said he was proud to be there on behalf of the entire fan base.
"I never would have seen myself doing this, but I'm just too passionate for the team and San Diego to not do anything," Farley said. "I told my friends that I felt like I had to do something, and that was the main motivation of me coming to Houston.
"Had I not been there, it probably would have been an empty seat for the Charger fan base. I'm just glad I was the only person to be there. That's not to say I'm better than anyone else, and I think a lot of people in the fan base are giving their support. But I felt like I held down the fort for everyone in San Diego."
A fan of the team since childhood, Farley called rooting for the Chargers a "lifestyle." Farley isn't a season-ticket holder, but he attends a few games each season -- he was there when they faced the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs this year -- and has spent countless hours analyzing the details of the team's case for moving, particularly the battle over funding for a new stadium.
"I did my research, I did my homework, I took every bit of information that I could and now I'm knowledgeable about the whole stadium saga," Farley said. "And I'm pretty sure I'm one of the few within my age group that's really done that."
Hardcore Chargers fans will do anything to save their team.
And while Tuesday's result wasn't ideal, Farley called the fact that the Chargers aren't definitely leaving a small victory.
"If the news would have hit yesterday that they were definitely going to move, I probably would be devastated right now," Farley said. "But right now, we have to hope for the best. It all depends on the city and the Chargers seeing if they can break the standoff and start off this year with a fresh new attitude and hopefully a new hunger at the negotiating table."
The general consensus is that doing so would be a futile effort, but Farley said that while he's realistic about the situation, he also remains optimistic that the Chargers will find a way to stay in San Diego long term.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos will decide whether the Bolts stay or go.
"I do believe that the two sides will meet and I do believe that a vote can pass, but none of that can happen unless Mr. (Dean) Spanos comes to the negotiating table," Farley said of the Chargers' owner.
"The options in Inglewood don't look good for him," Farley added. "He may feel otherwise, but if he comes back to the negotiating table, we can figure something out here. It can be Mission Valley, downtown -- at this point, I don't even care, they can build it in my back yard and that will be fine. I just hope he comes back to the table."
However, if Spanos elects to move forward with the expected move to LA, be it next season or in 2017, his team will have lost an important fan in Farley -- one dedicated enough to keeping the Chargers in town to fly cross-country just to make his voice heard.
"I just can't really see myself supporting the team because they're San Diego's team, and that's what I tell people," Farley said. "I'm a San Diego fan, and if the Chargers leave San Diego, they're nothing to me anymore."
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