During Melvin Gordon's tenure with the Los Angeles Chargers, he occasionally answered questions about the lack of support for the team at home. Those concerns popped up multiple times during the 2019 season, most notably when fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers took over Dignity Health Sports Park during an October contest. At the time, Gordon directed his complaints toward the stadium operators rather than the fans.
"It was crazy," Gordon said after the 24-17 Steelers victory. "They started playing their theme music. I don't know what we were doing -- that little soundtrack, what they do on their home games. I don't know why we played that.
"I don't know what that was. Don't do that at our home stadium. … It already felt like it was their stadium."
Now as a member of the Denver Broncos, Gordon feels a little freer to discuss the unique and sometimes awkward circumstances surrounding the Chargers' relationship with Los Angeles. When asked by former college teammate Marcus Cromartie about playing in front of empty stadiums due to the coronavirus, Gordon highlighted how his experience with the Chargers prepared him for the possibility.
"Bro, we didn't have fans anyway," Gordon said.
Since arriving in Los Angeles in 2017, the Chargers haven't had much trouble attracting fans to their games. However, many of those contests featured far more visiting fans than those supporting the home team. In addition to the Steelers debacle, fans of the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Oakland Raiders flooded Dignity Health Sports Park during games last season. Perhaps the disparity wouldn't have looked quite as significant if not for Los Angeles falling out of playoff contention early in the season, but concerns remain as the team prepares to transition into the new, 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium this year.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH