Talks between the city of San Diego and the Chargers already broke down this summer in a barrage of sniping, with Mayor Kevin Faulconer complaining that the team management wasn’t a “willing partner” and team stadium chief Mark Fabiani calling the mayor’s plan “remarkably unsophisticated.” Now things have escalated to where Faulconer’s top political aide says if the Chargers want to resume negotiations, they better leave Fabiani at home:
“I think Mark Fabiani has been poisonous to a solution for the Chargers remaining in San Diego,” [Jason Cabel] Roe said. “From the very beginning of this process he has done nothing but mislead the mayor’s office, the fans and civic leaders on what the team’s intentions are.”
This does not at first seem to be the best way to get talks going with an unwilling partner, calling their lead negotiator “poisonous.” But then, you have to consider which audience Faulconer’s office is actually playing to. As it becomes clearer that 1) none of the cities facing team threats to move to L.A. (San Diego, St. Louis, Oakland) have the kind of slam-dunk overwhelmingly lucrative subsidy offers that will instantly win over team owners, and 2) the other NFL owners are going to have to pick which one or two teams get to move to L.A. and which have to stay home, mayors are starting to think about how to lobby the league directly to say “Look, we tried, the people on the other side of the table won’t listen, please don’t take our team!”
It probably won’t work — NFL owners may not all like each other, but they still like each other more than they like city mayors — but it’s worth a shot. Besides, when Mark Fabiani is just coming off an appearance at one of those bizarro NFL listening tour events where he was almost booed off the stage, it’s easy to score points by attacking him in public. And when you’re playing a game where the winners and losers are going to be determined by 32 rich guys in a room somewhere, scoring political points may be the only sure move you have.