Don't Kill The Mellinger

Five-minute break: LA’s NFL, Kobe’s honesty, and FIFA can go kick rocks

The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers face off last November
The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers face off last November AP

So, obviously the big news of the day comes from Sam Farmer with the Raiders and Chargers jointly pursuing a stadium near Los Angeles.

This shreds whatever remaining doubt there may have been about the NFL being in LA soon, probably in time for the 2016 season. It is also potentially good news for Rams fans in St. Louis, because LA is a two-team market, but not three.

For the Chiefs, it presents the odd possibility that they would play two divisional road games every year in the same stadium.

I’d be sad to see the Raiders leave Oakland, and not just because my sister lives there and it’s a nice bonus to be able to see them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the stadium is an absolute dump — the worst in both the NFL and MLB — with occasional sewage backup and a parking lot that borders on flooding with like a half inch of rain.

But there’s such a connection there, the fans are passionate, and they’ve been better to that franchise than the franchise has been to them for the last decade or so. I get the feeling Chargers fans could largely take or leave the team – and who could blame them, with the beach right there, and LA a reasonable drive anyway – but something real would be lost in Oakland.

If you haven’t read it already, this is a really interesting read on Kobe Bryant. Kobe and I are almost exactly the same age — which I’m sure he’s aware of — which is maybe part of why I’ve always followed his career closer than most. I hated young Kobe, but am really starting to love old Kobe. He’s smart, fearless, comfortable with himself and at that place where he’s speaking his mind.

My favorite part of the story was Kobe talking about something I’ve felt in my bones for 20 years, at least, that the same things that make some people highly successful in certain areas are so often the same things that make them major failures in other areas. This can be anything from Michael Jordan cheating his roommate’s mother in a game of Go Fish (that’s a true story) to successful businesspeople being absentee or bad parents.

But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone articulate it so clearly, so honestly, so comfortably. Again, from this excellent GQ article:

Q: So is this a choice? Are you actively choosing not to have friends?

A: Well, yes and no. I have friends. But being a “great friend” is something I will never be. I can be a good friend. But not a great friend. A great friend will call you every day and remember your birthday. I’ll get so wrapped up in my (stuff), I’ll never remember that stuff. And the people who are my friends understand this, and they’re usually the same way. You gravitate toward people who are like you. But the kind of relationships you see in movies—that’s impossible for me. I have good relationships with players around the league. LeBron and I will text every now and then. KG and I will text every now and then. But in terms of having one of those great, bonding friendships—that’s something I will probably never have. And it’s not some smug thing. It’s a weakness. It’s a weakness.

Preach, Kobe, preach. That’s bigger than sports, and speaks to a work-life balance that we all deal with but some deal with differently.

It is probably true that people tend to dislike powerful organizations. This could explain a lot of the political debate, for instance. But, and I’m just spitballing here … Worst: NCAA. Worst-est: IOC. Worstest-er: NFL. Worstester-er: FIFA.

If you want to extend this break past five minutes, read J.R. Moehringer on Alex Rodriguez.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to Follow him on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to

Related stories from Kansas City Star