With Harbaugh, Chargers are ready to ‘Fight for L.A.’

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargeers hired the best head-coaching candidate available and are getting ready to open a new training facility.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — When the Chargers moved to Los Angeles from San Diego in 2017, their slogan was, “Fight for L.A.”

It was the phrase Chargers owner Dean Spanos used in his letter announcing the team’s relocation, it was the words they slapped on signs and billboards around town, and it was the term they put in a video in which Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said, “We fight for every yard, every game and every fan.”

It was a fight the Chargers weren’t prepared for at the time. 

Not only were the Chargers not ready to fight for Los Angeles in 2017, they were barely willing to call it their home. Their practice facility since they moved to Los Angeles has been in Costa Mesa, a city in Orange County about one hour north of San Diego and 40 miles south of L.A. While Rivers was talking about fighting for L.A., he was still living and commuting back and forth from his home in San Diego.

For the first time since the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, they put on their gloves, placed their mouth piece in and told the referee to ring the bell.

The blockbuster hiring of Jim Harbaugh , who was intrdocued as the team’s new head coach Thursday, was easily the biggest moment the team has had since they moved to L.A., and perhaps the biggest since the team beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to advance to the Super Bowl 30 years ago.

For the first time in decades, the Chargers didn’t hire a young coordinator getting his first full-time NFL head coaching job or an old retread head coach that had been fired from his last job. They hired the hottest available head coach, coming off a national championshop at Michigan. Not only has Harbaugh proven himself as one of the best coaches in college, he was also one of the best coaches in the NFL when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.

In 2011, Harbaugh took over a 49ers franchise that had missed the playoffs the previous eight seasons and were a combined 46–82 during that time. In his first season he led them to a 13–3 record and an NFC championship game appearance for the first time since 1997. In his second season he led them to its first Super Bowl since 1994 and followed that up with a third straight trip to the NFC title game.

It’s the kind of sustained success the Chargers have been yearning for despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Justin Herbert, and a roster of big-name players at other spots.

The Chargers finally have a coach that can lead them back to the AFC championship game for the first time since 2007, back to the Super Bowl for the first time since their one and only trip in 1994, and perhaps to the franchise’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy. The team wasted no time plastering Harbaugh all over digital billboards in Los Angeles, on their website and on their social media.

It’s the first time since the Chargers relocated to Los Angeles that they actually moved the needle in a city where they are competing with the Lakers, Dodgers, Rams, Clippers, Kings, USC, UCLA and a myriad of other sports and entertainment options. Since the Chargers proclaimed their “Fight for L.A.,” the Rams have gone to the postseason five times, played in two Super Bowls and won the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium.  

The Chargers have not made it to the postseason in consecutive seasons since 2006-09. They have only advanced to the playoffs twice in the past decade, and they followed up those seasons by winning five games the following year. It’s hard to build a new fan base in a new city with that kind of track record.

It’s also hard to build a fan base in a new city when you’re not really in that city. That will also change this year, as the Chargers will be moving into their new $276 million training facility in El Segundo, Calif., located about two miles north of the Manhattan Beach Pier and two miles south of LAX. For the first time since moving to Los Angeles seven years ago, the Chargers are finally planting roots in the city and truly calling it their home.

The Chargers’ new training facility is expected to open in time for the NFL draft in April, where the team has the fifth overall pick. Before then, the team recently developed the surrounding area, opening Chargers Commons, which includes a team store and a variety of restaurants such as Raising Cane’s and Panda Express. The facility is just down the street from where the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings practice and adjacent to a new Top Golf. 

The last vestige of the Chargers’ “Fight for L.A.” campaign that remains is the URL,, which now takes you to the team’s website. On Friday the site was topped with a graphic that read, “Welcome to LA Jim Harbaugh.” Their slogan has changed over the years, but the Chargers franchise has never uttered stronger fighting words than that.