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Woody Paige: Broncos fans will be out in force in L.A. vs. Chargers

October 21, 2017 Updated: October 22, 2017 at 7:56 am
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FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2017, file photo, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game in Denver. When the Los Angeles Chargers resume their AFC West rivalry with Denver on Sunday in the teams’ second meeting of this season, Rivers will be seeking his 100th career victory as a starter. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Venice Beach, Calif. - The On The Waterfront Cafe will be without its rowdy orange-and-blue-clad folks Sunday afternoon.

"They'll be gone down the road,'' the bartender said while lamenting his potential tip losses. "The Broncos are in town.''

About 25 miles away, the Broncos and the Chargers are playing Sunday in the Los Angeles expanse for the first time in 57 years.

And the local chapter of the Broncos official fan club - 917 strong, supportive and sad after last Sunday night - will move from Venice Beach to Carson to witness the vital division game between the teams that have played each other the most since the AFL origination.

This will be their 117th confrontation.

The Broncos have won 65, including a playoff game and the opener this season. The Chargers won the first two.

Back then, it, too, was the Los Angeles Chargers vs. the Denver Broncos.

People are snickering about the Broncos-Chargers game being played in front of approximately 25,000 spectators at a suburban shoe box soccer stadium.

On Dec. 10, 1960, these AFC West rivals played in the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum, which had a capacity of more than 100,000, before a smattering of 9,928 curiosity-seekers. Los Angeles outlasted Denver 41-33.

The Chargers promptly transferred the next season to San Diego.

They have come back this season - but not to a heroes' homecoming welcome. The City of Angels (and Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Galaxy) is The City That Doesn't Care about Chargers, and is not overwhelmingly in love with the returning Rams, either.

"Chargers? Nobody gives a whit,'' a muscle-bound, bare-chested roller skater said on Venice Beach. Only he didn't say "whit.''

Attendance of 76K at Mile High Stadium, where 391 consecutive regular-season and postseason sellouts have been recorded, virtually is identical this season to combined gatherings for Chargers and Rams games (at the StubHub Center and the Coliseum).

The Chargers claimed prior to the trip up the coast that a quarter of the franchise's fans live in the Los Angeles area. If true, the Chargers have about 12,500 followers here. The audience at the team's first "home'' game was announced as 25,381 - and half of those were dressed in Dolphins' jerseys. The majority of the trailing two similarly sized assemblages wore Chiefs and Eagles jerseys. "It's like they are playing 16 away games,'' an opposing player said.

The Chargers lost all three games in The Unfriendly Confines. Quarterback Philip Rivers, who still lives in San Diego, purchased a tricked-out $200,000 SUV and commutes 160 miles. Everyone else is renting near Carson - noted previously for oil drilling and refineries and now as a Goodyear Blimp base.

And the NFL Chargers and the MLS Galaxy.

Although hundreds of tickets are available for Sunday afternoon's game on websites such as StubHub, the Orange faithful definitely will dominate, with more than 15,000 Coloradans and transplants to California expected.

It won't be the only time, though.

Tens of thousands of travelers from the Denver metroplex annually visit sunny Southern California for Broncos games. San Diego was the glorious locale of the Broncos' most historic victory - in Super Bowl 32. Pasadena's Rose Bowl is one of the forgettable places because the Broncos fell there in Super Bowl XXI.

John Elway, Broncos legendary player and executive, doesn't agree with singer Randy Newman. Despite starring at Granada Hills High School, John hated playing in L.A. in the NFL. His record as a starting quarterback against the then-Los Angeles Raiders and the previous incarnation of the Los Angeles Rams, and in two postseason games here, was 3-12. The Stanford teams Elway played for were 0-3-1 in Los Angeles.

The Broncos have won the past 11 of 13 against the Chargers.

But they are 0-1 in an NFL regular-season game (2010) at a soccer stadium - Wembley in London.

(Full disclosure: The owner of the StubHub Center lives in Denver and also owns The Gazette, among other things.)

Nevertheless, the Broncos face four straight demanding games, including the next three on the road, and seriously are struggling on offense, and especially at quarterback with Trevor Siemian, after scoring only three touchdowns in three games.

Sorry, On The Waterfront Cafe and Broncos fan club. Chargers 23, Broncos 20.

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