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Memo Garcia, 63, had been a Chargers fan

The knock on Darren Waller for most of his brief NFL career
has been that his team couldn't count on him.An injury cut short his first
season and two suspensions limited his availability the next two seasons. Given
a second chance by the Oakland Raiders Womens
Antonio Brown Jersey
, Waller is making sure not to squander the
opportunity."When it comes my way, make something happen," Waller said
Wednesday. "Just be consistent. Don't be erratic. Most of my career to this
point has been erratic. It's been like, 'OK, can we rely on him.' I've done it
for three weeks but can I do it again another week."Waller has made a lot happen
so far, catching seven passes in the opener followed by six the following week
and then grabbing 13 for 134 yards in a loss at Minnesota last Sunday —
finishing one shy of matching the team record for catches in a game held by Hall
of Famer Tim Brown and Brandon Myers.His 26 catches surpass the 18 he had in 22
career games coming into the season and are one shy of Antonio Gates' 2007 mark
for the most ever by a tight end in the first three weeks of a season."You don't
want to ever get ahead of it, but we think he's very special," quarterback Derek
Carr said. "Obviously the production is now showing up. What he doesn't get
enough credit for is he'll one play get a reverse speed play, then the next play
he's blocking (Minnesota defensive end Danielle) Hunter in pass protection, then
the next he's running a slant on Trae Waynes. You don't find those guys. They're
not around. The fact that we have one of those is pretty awesome."Waller has
seemingly come out of nowhere to become Oakland's most dangerous offensive
player the first three weeks. He caught just 51 passes in three college seasons
as a wide receiver in Georgia Tech's option offense. He was then drafted in the
sixth round by Baltimore in 2015 but had little impact with the Ravens as he
dealt with substance abuse problems that he detailed on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this
summer.Waller said he was "getting high like literally every day" during
training camp in 2016 when he described himself as a "vegetable." He said he
used opiates, Xanax and cocaine.Waller was suspended the first four games that
season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He violated it again the
following year and was suspended for the entire 2017 season, leading him to
finally attend rehab sessions. He said this summer that he has celebrated his
two-year anniversary of being clean.Waller was reinstated in August 2018 and
spent most of the season on the Ravens practice squad before being signed by the
Raiders on Nov. 27. He had six catches for 75 yards over the final four games in
2018 but showed the Raiders enough for them to let Jared Cook leave in free
agency and make Waller their No. 1 receiving tight end."They told me that I was
going to get the opportunity," Waller said. "As soon as you hear that, after all
of the things that I've been through, I was like, I get one opportunity, that's
all I need."Waller has improved as a blocker this season but is at his most
dangerous when he is detached as a receiver in the slot or out wide and can use
his athleticism to exploit bigger defenders and size to take advantage of
smaller ones. He has made 15 of his 26 catches when detached from the line at
the start of the play.That ability has allowed the Raiders to utilize two tight
end formations more often this season to great effect. Oakland has more than
doubled its use of one-back, two tight end groupings so far this season, gaining
more than 1 yard more per play than in all other alignments."Our tight ends can
block, so if we get a nickel defense, we feel like we can run the football,"
coach Jon Gruden said. "And if they come out in the base defense, we think our
guys are versatile enough to be functional and do a lot of things in the passing
game. So, that's a really good personnel grouping for us, one we are going to
continue to probe and utilize."NOTES: The Raiders promoted LB Justin Phillips
from the practice squad and released WR Ryan Grant, who started the first two
games. ... Oakland also signed LB Dakota Allen off the Rams practice squad and
placed LB Marquel Lee on IR. ... The Raiders signed LB Quentin Poling to the
practice squad. The slow, agonizing demise of the Oakland Raiders will continue
for at least one more season.There will be one more "final" home game at the
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, on Dec. 15 against the Jacksonville
Jaguars.There have been possible "final" home games for a few years now because
the Raiders have had one foot out the door since 2015, when they joined with the
AFC West rival Chargers in a failed attempt to build a stadium in the Los
Angeles suburb of Carson.This time, though, it almost certainly will be farewell
for one of the NFL's most recognizable teams and fan bases.The Raiders are
scheduled to move into a gleaming new $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat stadium in Las
Vegas in 2020. The climate-controlled palace — funded in part with $750 million
in public money — will make the Coliseum look like a relic.It will be the second
time the Raiders have moved since Chris Dobbins, 47, has been a fan.This time,
they won't be back."Oh, it's disastrous," said Dobbins, an attorney who is
co-founder and president of Save Oakland Sports. "In terms of twice in my
lifetime when the team's left, it's very depressing."The Raiders have been the
definition of lame ducks. Their move to Las Vegas was approved by the NFL in
March 2017, but they've had to stay in Oakland until the new stadium is ready.
They explored other options for this season, then agreed to a lease in Oakland
for this year, plus an option for 2020 in case the Las Vegas stadium isn't
ready.Fans know the end is near."This is the ultimate 'Hard Knocks' for Oakland
Raider fans who have now lost their team for the second time," said Andy Dolich,
a long-time sports executive and Bay Area sports fan. He was referring to the
HBO series that is featuring the Raiders this year.Of course, relocations are
nothing new in the NFL, which celebrates its 100th season this fall.Some are
quick, like the Baltimore Colts escaping to Indianapolis in Mayflower moving
vans in the middle of the night.Others are drawn out and painful. They tear at
the fabric of communities and rip fan bases apart, with some swearing allegiance
to their team no matter where it plays, while others stay loyal to the soil and
cut ties for good. Bitter Twitter exchanges rage between fans angry about losing
their teams and new fans who say the affected cities didn't do enough to keep
the NFL.Many jilted fans swear off the NFL itself, saying the league cares more
about money than them.Once the Raiders are in Las Vegas, the recent wave of
relocations of three teams will have affected five markets, with Los Angeles
gaining two teams, St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland losing America's most
popular sport.With the NFL looking to end its 22-year absence from Los Angeles —
which had been a nice bargaining chip for owners elsewhere to wrangle new
stadium deals to stay put — the Rams won the race for the nation's
second-largest city. Stan Kroenke, one of the league's richest owners, dazzled
his peers with plans for a nearly $5 billion stadium complex in Inglewood . The
Rams were given approval in January 2016 to leave St. Louis and return to their
former home.The Chargers and Raiders were told to give it another try in their
home markets. Both of those efforts failed, in large part because Californians
are generally loathe to bestow public money on billionaire owners."Stadiums are
the main story, much more so in the NFL than other leagues," said Andrew
Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College in Massachusetts. "The
reason people leave in football isn't so much they want to go to a large
demographic center, it's because there's a better stadium somewhere else. It's
purely a stadium-driven thing in the NFL."San Diego voters, weary of the
Chargers' 15-year effort to wrangle public money and/or land to build a new
stadium Antonio
Brown Jersey White
, said no to Dean Spanos' hastily written ballot
measure in 2016 and lost its team of 56 years to Los Angeles, where the
second-generation owner likely will benefit from Kroenke's vision and deep
pockets. Oakland city officials made it clear that public money would go to
related infrastructure but not a stadium itself, and Mark Davis, another
second-generation owner, found a sweetheart deal for the Raiders in bustling Las
Vegas.When the Chargers divorced themselves from San Diego in January 2017, fans
flocked to their headquarters and dumped jerseys, pennants, caps and other gear
into a large pile that was set afire. Others were more practical, giving
team-branded clothing to agencies that help the homeless.But even as the pile of
singed memorabilia was scooped into a dumpster behind the Chargers'
headquarters, the team was handing out free jerseys and caps in Los Angeles in
an attempt to build a new fan base. The Chargers will play a third and final
season this fall at a suburban L.A. soccer stadium before becoming a tenant in
Kroenke's stadium.The Rams, Raiders and Chargers have been involved in eight of
the NFL's 13 major moves since 1946.The Rams moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles
in 1946. In 1980, they stayed in the metropolitan area but vacated the Coliseum
for Anaheim while keeping the Los Angeles name. With the Coliseum freed up on
Sundays, Al Davis moved the Raiders there in 1982, and the next year they won
the city's only Super Bowl championship. After the 1994 season, the Rams bailed
for St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland, where they began play in 1960
as an original AFL team.The Rams, unhappy with their stadium situation, left St.
Louis for Hollywood before the 2016 season, making the Coliseum their temporary
home.St. Louis also lost the Cardinals to Arizona in 1988, and the Cardinals
originally were located in Chicago.As for the Chargers, they began life in Los
Angeles in 1960, also as an original AFL team, but their owner, hotelier Barron
Hilton, was lured to San Diego in 1961. They rebranded as the Los Angeles
Chargers in 2017.Some cities that have lost teams have gotten new ones.
Baltimore got what had been the Cleveland Browns, with Art Modell moving his
team to Maryland in 1996 to become the Ravens while leaving the Browns name,
colors and history behind. The new Browns began play in 1999.The Houston Oilers
moved to Tennessee in 1997 and eventually rebranded as the Titans. The expansion
Houston Texans began play in 2002.Based on the current economics and cost of
stadiums, it would be surprising if the NFL ever returns to San Diego and
Oakland.The Raiders' once-rabid fan base, which turned every autumn Sunday into
Halloween with wild, elaborate costumes, hasn't been the same since the move to
Las Vegas was finalized, said Dobbins, whose term on the Coliseum Joint Powers
Authority Board recently ended."Last year after it became a fait accompli, you
didn't see the passion that was there previously," he said. "People are upset.
The teams have been lousy, also. It was funny, when the Chargers were in town,
it had been a big rivalry but the fans commiserated with each other. Rams fans
and Chargers fans were upset about what transpired. Every game generates around
2,000 jobs, but it's also hard to quantify when you lose a team, what it does to
the fabric of the community. It's very upsetting."Dobbins said he won't attend
games in Las Vegas, but knows fans who will.Sin City, meanwhile, is getting
ready to welcome the NFL.Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and
Visitors Authority, said it's exciting watching the new stadium rising from the
desert floor."It's just great to see. Five years ago we wouldn't have thought
that was possible, and now it's happening," he said.In San Diego, many fans have
turned against the Chargers while some still cheer for them, or at least for
quarterback Philip Rivers, who continues to live in the city while commuting
north to practices and games.since his
dad first took him to a game at Balboa Stadium in 1963, back in the era of Hall
of Famer Lance Alworth, Keith Lincoln and Paul Lowe.When they moved, Garcia got
rid of most of his Chargers gear except for a few jerseys, an AFL pennant and an
aerial photo of Balboa Stadium. He even changed his Twitter handle to Formerly
Boltmen and his address to @NoMasBolts."I was a fan of the San Diego Chargers,"
he said. "To me there's still an importance of where the team is from. They
represented my turf. They don't anymore."He's largely sworn off the NFL. "I've
got no dog in the hunt," he said.Johnny Abundez, known on Twitter as
@JonE_Boltpride, said he's still a Chargers fan, but not with the same passion
as before."Phillip Rivers is still my QB! How can you not love him?" Abundez
said.Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/berniewilson
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