CARSON — “Sixteen away-game season! Every game’s an away game!”
The voice rang out from the Chargers’ locker room on Sunday evening, the frustration of an 0-4 start spilling over. Yes, there are three other winless teams in the NFL right now, ones that have lost in much more lopsided fashion. But these Chargers are the only team still winless after three home games.
In its first three contests as an NFL stadium, StubHub Center has hosted crowds officially counted at 25,381, 25,386, and 25,374. That’s as close as the Chargers will get to a sellout in the 27,000-seat venue, since they don’t count their hold of 1,200 complimentary tickets, and must also reserve 500 seats for sale to disabled fans.
So overall attendance isn’t the real problem. What is? The colors that those in attendance are wearing.
The Chargers lost to the Eagles, 26-24, on Sunday, and they did so in front of a crowd that wouldn’t have looked too out of place in Philadelphia.
“It was definitely noticed by our entire team,” said Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, “and we definitely fed off them today.”
“Honestly, it was unbelievable,” said quarterback Carson Wentz.
StubHub Center had hosted split audiences twice before, but those felt like even matchups. Against Miami and Kansas City, the noise swung back and forth between the home crowd and the visitors. Sunday’s crowd tilted toward the latter, roaring for the Eagles at every opportunity. One Chargers fan even told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was out of his seat in order to avoid being engulfed by Philadelphia fans. Instead, he watched from the concourse.
Later, the Chargers locker room felt just as glum.
“It’s sad when you’re home and it feels like it’s away,” said running back Melvin Gordon. “When you’re 0-4, what can you expect?”
“It is kind of disheartening when your home stadium is chanting for the away team,” said right tackle Joe Barksdale.
After the game, a reporter asked Philip Rivers if the Chargers had squandered their three home games. The quarterback restrained himself.
“Yeah, answering in that context, certainly,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t think it’s — yeah, I better not. Yes, missed opportunity. I will stop.”
Prodded by another reporter a few minutes later, Rivers admitted that the crowd noise was “certainly not ideal.”
“I don’t think, in a lot of ways, it compares to other teams having three home games,” he said. “Yeah, it’s…