There's clearly no love lost between Melvin Gordon and the Los Angeles Chargers. The rift began with the running back refused to report to training camp and the start of the 2019 regular season until his contract demands were met, but they never were, and risking tarnishing his brand in a contract year -- he ultimately returned to the field. Meanwhile, the Chargers tabled all talks with Gordon and that included pulling away an offer that was reportedly worth upwards of $10 million annually, but Gordon repeatedly made it known at the start of the offseason he wanted to remain with the club.
His tone changed quickly when they decided to award Austin Ekeler a four-year, $24.5 million contract extension, signifying the end of Gordon's time in Los Angeles. The two-time Pro Bowler went on to sign a two-year deal with the rival Denver Broncos worth $16 million -- a far cry from what he was financially aiming for last August -- and is wasting no time taking digs at his former team.
Recently, when asked by former NFL cornerback Marcus Cromartie about the possibility of playing in fan-less stadiums due to potential COVID-19 (coronavirus) regulations, Gordon swung a haymaker at Chargers supporters.
"We didn't have fans anyway," Gordon said with a laugh. "I'm just going to be honest -- we didn't have many Chargers fans at the games. We didn't have many, so I'm not missing anything. I'm not really missing out on much."
It's not the first knock Gordon has made against them, noting how the offensive system in Denver is better than the one he took snaps for in L.A.
"It really didn't play out to my strengths, especially the first couple years there," Gordon said. "and make it work. It kinda wasn't a system built for me. But I feel like Denver kinda runs my style of football and I think it's a great fit."
This is all sure to go over well in Gordon's return to L.A. to play the Chargers in Week 16, assuming the shiny new SoFi Stadium is permitted to fill to max capacity at that point. To be fair, it's not the first time Chargers fans have been called out on their absence, with Philip Rivers having done so as recently as the 2019 season. Rivers was a staunch advocate for keeping the organization in San Diego, noting how rabid the fanbase was in that city. So by the time he realized he could hardly hear in his battle last season with the Raiders, on his own field, his frustrations had already runneth over.
The Chargers lost that game, by the way.
"I think we definitely have gotten used to [the lack of fan support]," said an agitated Rivers at the time. ".... That didn't have anything to do with the outcome of the game, but being someone who remembers what it used to be like at home games -- it's pretty bad, you know. I appreciate the Chargers fans that are out there, but it's disheartening to say the least.
"I don't think all our guys understand that. ...The guys that have been here for a long time certainly know what it used to be like [in San Diego]."
Both Rivers and Gordon are now gone, the former taking up residence with the Indianapolis Colts, and the City of Los Angeles is hoping the opening of a new stadium will eventually have fans showing up in droves -- along with consistent success from both the Chargers and the Rams. The latter hasn't had an issue filling seats the last couple of years, but their L.A. brethren can't genuinely say the same. It seems Gordon isn't afraid to point it out, either, but while Broncos fans often show up to support their home team; any absence in 2020 wouldn't be voluntary.
It'd be thanks to COVID-19, which could keep droves of fans around the league out of stadiums this season.