IRVINE, California — Just weeks after unpacking the last boxes after his second move in two years, this time from the suburbs of San Diego to Irvine, a relieved Brandon Mebane stands in front of his new home and smiles.
There’s a lot these days that brings joy to Mebane, the 6-foot-1, 311-pound starting defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers, who opened training camp this past weekend in Costa Mesa.
He’s entering his 11th season — and the second of a three-year contract with the Chargers that pays him $13.5 million. He’s in tremendous shape after a summer where he trained with future Hall of Famer Dwight Freeney and adopted a plant-based diet. And with the NFL’s return to Los Angeles (first the Rams, now the Chargers) after an absence of more than two decades, Mebane gets a chance to play a short distance away from the Crenshaw neighborhood where he was raised.
“I was probably 9 when the last NFL team was in Los Angeles, and after the Raiders and Rams left, I never thought the city would get another team,” Mebane said. “That I can be in my 11th year and play at home, that truly is a blessing.”
Standing in front of his rented home in Irvine, Mebane reaches out and embraces his wife, Amena, who’s nearly swallowed by his massive arms.
Amena glances into her husband’s eyes. With two beautiful young children sleeping inside, the Mebanes appear to be the type of family you’d embrace as your neighbors.
But Irvine, located in Orange County, didn’t exactly welcome the Mebane family with open arms.
Chargers’ defensive tackle Brandon Mebane says he and other black teammates had trouble…
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