CARSON, California — Hip-hop music with a funky beat thumped over loudspeakers before Sunday’s NFL game pitting the Los Angeles-San Diego-Los Angeles (again) Chargers vs. the Oakland-Los Angeles-Oakland (again) and soon to be Las Vegas Raiders at StubHub Center.
And then the Chargers trolled the “visiting” Raiders with Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.”
But if some old school rhythm and blues ever was called for, this was the day.
Some trolling from Chargers. Raiders introduced. Amid cheers in Carson, “Viva Las Vegas” plays on speakers at StubHub Center. pic.twitter.com/DLu7P7MgKf
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 7, 2018
Motown. The Temptations. Psychedelic colors and bell-bottom trousers with sequins. Don Cornelius’ baritone voice.
Papa was a rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home. And when he died, all he left us was alone …”
Substitute “helmet” for “hat” and “moved” for “died,” and that mostly describes the transient nature of the Chargers and the Raiders.
Efficient Philip Rivers passed for 339 yards and two touchdowns while erratic Derek Carr threw another ill-timed interception — on first and goal at the Los Angeles 1-yard line — as the Chargers defeated the Raiders 26-10 in front of an announced sellout crowd of 25,362 in the second installment of the Temporary Home Bowl.
The NFL insisted on calling it a Chargers home game despite the Raiders’ faithful outnumbering that of the Chargers by a healthy margin.
“Can’t say that I have,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of the show of support. “I just love the Raiders’ fans. Just wish we could have given them a better show today.”
Perhaps they might have, had Carr not lobbed the football to Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram with the Raiders trailing 20-3 in the third quarter and still having time to mount a comeback.
“We haven’t thrown the ball in a goal-to-go situation all year,” Gruden said after the Raiders fell to 1-4 with a resounding thud. “The decision there is to throw it, and if not’s open to throw it away. Didn’t work out.”
No, it didn’t. Carr said it was a good play the Chargers (4-1) covered. His story, sticking to it. Running back Marshawn Lynch, who was visibly upset not to have had his number called — not so much.
“Marshawn, we’d love to give him the ball and stuff like that,” Carr said. “But we had shown some things, and it had shown on film, this should be good. Obviously, they covered it and it didn’t work out.”
Obviously. After the Chargers took it down and scored, the county fair vibe of football played in a sardine can proved more compelling than what transpired on the field.
No place like … San Diego?
Both teams will be without a permanent stadium situation until 2020. The Chargers will move into Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, which they’ll share with the Rams. The Raiders will move into Las Vegas Stadium, which they’ll share with UNLV — provided the Rebels don’t drop football following an embarrassing 50-14 loss to lowly New Mexico on Saturday.
But whereas the Chargers in 2019 will continue to bend it like Beckham (as in David Beckham, who played here for Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy) there’s no telling where the Raiders might bend or break it if the city of Oakland files a lawsuit charging the NFL and the Raiders with antitrust.
The team’s lease at forlorn Oakland Alameda County Stadium expires after 2018, which could leave the Raiders without a place to call a temporary home next season.
Las Vegas is out.
Transforming Sam Boyd Stadium into something the NFL would tolerate would be cost prohibitive. Plus, the stench left by the Rebels on Saturday probably will linger and turn the quaint stadium on the edge of town into a giant biohazard.
One intriguing if not altogether realistic option is the Raiders exploring a temporary arrangement in — get this — San Diego.
“Seems pretty far fetched,” said San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Tom Krasovic. “Wouldn’t rule it out. You still have other players, Santa Clara and Oakland, that geographically have advantages. I think San Diego can be a negotiating tool, (and) if the Chargers went on the road to play the Raiders in San Diego, that would make for very interesting theater.”
But if the Raiders are looking for a place to lay their collective hat before 2019, they should start with some of these running backs and pass receivers that Philip Rivers kept checking off to in completing 22 of his 27 passing attempts.
His rhythm gave the Raiders a serious case of the blues.