San Diego Politician Exploring Lawsuit Against Chargers, NFL

Councilmember believes an anti-trust suit could bring the NFL back to San Diego

Since the Chargers left for Los Angeles people have been looking at ways to get the NFL back in San Diego. An idea that at one point seemed like a drastic measure is actually picking up steam.

Members of the San Diego political structure are considering filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the Chargers and National Football League in an attempt to get an NFL team, which may or may not be the Chargers, back in America’s Finest City.

I know, a lot of people think this is a crazy if not idiotic pursuit but it is possible the City of San Diego has a winnable case and at least one local politician is seriously looking in to it.

“I still think there is a very good chance we can get the NFL back here,” said Councilmember Scott Sherman in an interview with The Loose Cannons on XTRA 1360 on Friday afternoon. “I think we possibly have some legal legs to stand on so I think we have some opportunity.”

Sherman represents District 7 (where Qualcomm Stadium sits). He has been outspoken about his desire to bring the NFL back to San Diego. His quest to do that just might include pursuing the anti-trust suit. Sherman says the Chargers have never negotiated a new stadium deal with San Diego in good faith.

“If you dive in to the entire history of this thing they were not negotiating in good faith from the get-go,” said Sherman. “I’ve been making calls to some attorneys in different parts of the country who have a lot of history in dealing with the NFL.”

One of those attorneys is James Quinn, who is like kryptonite to the NFL. He was the lead counsel in the case that led to NFL players being granted free agency and has bested the league on multiple other occasions. He thinks this is a winnable case.

“I think it’s pretty clear that over the course of the last year or two that the NFL has effectively threatened the City of San Diego that unless they came up with significant amounts of money they would permit the Spanoses to move,” said Quinn.

The argument in a nutshell would be to try and prove that the NFL owners conspired with each other to extort money from the City of San Diego for their own personal gain.

“There is at least a decent argument,” said Quinn, “that under these circumstances 31 billionaires got together with another billionaire and gave him permission under these circumstances basically trying to extort money out of San Diego. A claim could be made.”

Quinn says he has had discussions with San Diego political leaders but describes then as “very tentative” and no further meetings are planned at this time.

The lawsuit would be filed in San Diego and it would likely have to be filed by the City, which brings up an interesting dilemma: who pays for it?

A case like this would take anywhere from nine months to three years to complete and Quinn estimates the lawyer fees would be “several million dollars.” That is a large expenditure for the City to take on and even if San Diego wins … what exactly is it San Diego really wins?

“I guess they win the lawsuit if they could enjoin the San Diego Chargers from moving to L.A.,” said Quinn. “I think that might be a bit of an uphill battle. But certainly they would win the lawsuit if they could ultimately get an agreement from the NFL to send the next franchise that’s moving or expanding to San Diego.”

So it would be the promise of another team that may never move in a league that may never expand that the millions of dollars of an anti-trust lawsuit could bring. Sherman says the Chargers departure has the potential to damage San Diego so to him the expenditure just might be worth it.

“Long-term I think it’s a huge detriment to the city,” said Sherman. “The NFL is a great way to advertise the city for free all across the country when most people do not want to be outside. To be a world-class city you need to have the NFL.”

To hear one of the most decorated trial lawyers in the nation tell it there is a case to be won. Now the City of San Diego needs to look at whether or not it wants to pay the price to try and win it.

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