The pain of the Chargers moving from San Diego to Los Angeles is forever etched in the heart of one fan – but that doesn’t mean it has to be physically marked on his body.
“We feel played,” San Diego resident Alonso Rodriguez told NBC 7 on Saturday, speaking of Dean Spanos’ decision to move the Bolts out of America’s Finest City. “It feels like a complete slap in the face. Los Angeles has enough teams already.”
[G] Buh-Bye, San Diego Chargers
In 2004 – the year he turned 18 – Rodriguez went to the Concrete Jungle Tattoo parlor in Chula Vista with a friend and had two large Chargers bolts tattoos inked into his skin – one on each shoulder, much like the bolts on the sleeves of a typical Chargers jersey.
At the time, he felt a great connection to the NFL team and wanted the Chargers logo on his body.
“I used to take my shirt off at the games sometimes – the tattoos, they were my permanent Chargers jersey,” he explained.
Fast-forward to January 2017 – two days after the Chargers’ big announcement – and Rodriguez’s feelings about the team are starkly different.
“I am a disappointed Chargers fan, heartbroken that the Chargers are relocating,” he told NBC 7. “I have decided that I have no allegiance to the Spanos [family] or Charger brand but more love to the city of San Diego and its people [with whom] I shared Chargers memories.”
Pics: Chargers Bolt Tattoo Options
Rodriguez said he feels betrayed and, from this point forward, wants no connection to the team.
So, starting Saturday, Rodriguez said he will begin the long process of removing his bolt tattoos from his shoulders. A team at a tattoo shop in San Diego’s College Area will tackle the task, which will take 12 sessions to complete and cost Rodriguez $2,000.
To make sure the tats are gone forever, Rodriguez has started this online fundraising campaign, asking for small contributions from fellow San Diegans and sports fans. He said anything – even $5 – will help.
“I’m hoping to reach fans who feel my pain,” he added.
As of 4 p.m. Saturday, $255 had been donated to Rodriguez’s campaign.
Rodriguez said that if, by a small chance, he raises more than $2,000 for his tattoo removal, he vows to pay the good fortune forward to help cover tattoo removal costs for other ex-Chargers fans who may also want similar unfortunate markings taken off their bodies.
For him, there is no turning back.
“After showing my loyalty, love and support [to the Chargers] by getting these tattoos, buying their merchandise, watching their games both in person and on TV, they are packing up and moving to a city in which we, as San Diegans, have always had a rivalry,” he said on his online funding page. “I can no longer have these enormous Chargers tattoos, because they no longer represent us as San Diegans.”
On Friday, some tattoo shops in San Diego offered deals to locals wanting their Chargers ink removed. San Diego Tattoo even came up with some creative ways to modify or cover-up fans’ existing Chargers tattoos:
But for Rodriguez, a cover-up simply isn’t enough. He said he doesn’t want to see any part of the Chargers on his body because he doesn’t want to be reminded of what the team did.
“To me, I don’t want to drag this on any longer. I want them off,” he explained.
On Thursday, after the team’s announcement, other San Diegans angered by the Chargers demonstrated their disappointment by dumping their team jerseys in front of the team’s headquarters. In some cases, fans ripped up their memorabilia; one fan even set his jersey on fire.
Rodriguez said he understands and respects the strong emotions of those former fans.
He said he owns several Chargers jerseys but plans to keep them tucked away at home because they represent legendary San Diego Chargers alumni: Junior Seau (No. 55) and LaDainian Tomlinson (No. 21).