Thomas Powell

Thomas Powell

SDSPJ

 

One of the biggest dilemmas hovering over the people who cover the Chargers is writing about the offseason and future seasons of the Chargers in San Diego. Additionally, they must also cover the black cloud over the team and the new stadium talks. How do you separate the two? How do you give readers and listeners all the information they need to know about the team, but keep them updated as to what they may not want to know about the progress, or lack thereof, in dealing with the stadium issue?

A media forum was put together May 27 by the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The moderator was Matt Hall, public engagement director of The San Diego Union-Tribune. The panel consisted of Bernie Wilson, who has covered the team for many years with the AP, Marty Caswell, producer of the Darren Smith Show on 1090am, Kevin Acee, former beat writer for the team for over eight years and now a columnist with The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Scott Lewis, editor in chief of the publication Voice of San Diego.

Many topics were covered that I’ll relay to you here. One was how the Chargers deal with the media. The NFL, in general, is like no other sport in how they really try to control what the media is allowed access to and when. The Chargers are by far one of the most controlling, which has been known for sometime now. Acee mentioned how the Chargers don’t like the press except when they need it. Bernie, who has a rule of not using any “off-the-record” stories, has basically been blackballed by Mark Fabiani in the front office. He concluded, his relationship with the team is “no relationship”. Which is sad, because Bernie is one helluva great reporter. Caswell mentioned that the one person they want to talk to is Dean Spanos. He has been off limits. She added that if the Chargers don’t like the coverage they are receiving from a certain reporter, they threaten them with press access and moving their seats in the press box to control the message that gets out there.

As for the stadium, it was interesting to learn that the reporters actually share with the fans one common theme when dealing with the stadium issue, fatigue. They are just as tired of hearing about it, reporting it and thinking about it as the common fans are at this point. But they have a job to do, and this could be the biggest sports story in the history of San Diego.

Caswell brought up that it’s actually difficult to cover this because you don’t know who to believe. “CSAG and the Chargers are both pushing their own agendas her,” Caswell said. “How do we advance the story? What is really news and what’s not?”

Scott Lewis actually likes the story for many reasons. He covers a little more of the political coverage of this situation and that is really all it is now a political game. Lewis mentioned an interesting aspect that fans are learning more about politics in their city than they may not have otherwise. “You have a public vote to discuss, public land use, and other civic-minded issues that largely probably would not be discussed among many football fans that are not into the city’s everyday political issues.” This is where Scott Lewis is a wonderful tool for fans to learn about such issues as they relate to the stadium. He is sometimes thought of as too negative, but he tells us the truth. In a way we are learning how the political games and issues are probably the biggest factors in play with this whole stadium situation.

“It’s hard to think how they can come together on a feasible plan just four months before the Chargers can file the relocation papers in January of 2016,” Caswell said. “The last thing the Chargers want is to be the third team in Los Angeles.” Bernie chimed in by saying, “The NFL puts on a show. It’s all about the money. We have to decide if we’re (San Diego) in the bidding for the show. Can San Diego even afford an NFL team anymore? We can’t even afford to fix the potholes in the street.”

How do you cover this so as not to be seen as negative by some fans, but still stay credible with others? Kevin Acee has spent a career telling fans the rah-rah stories, as well as the hard truths about the team. Some think he is way too negative in his reporting. “I’ve gotten a lot of gruff by the fans for not being a fan,”Acee stated.

Scott Lewis touched on this topic by stating, “There are a lot of people who want to hear it’s all going to be okay.” He mocked the mantra of some groups carrying the just-get-it-done attitude like the Save Our Bolts fan campaign. “There are only a few things you can tell the fans that they want to hear,” he said. He claims he is not being a jerk and people should look at his reporting as a “warning alarm”. Marty said that people are most accessible when it best suits their purpose. Bernie Wilson again touched on Mark Fabiani by claiming, “All of my emails are answered back as couldn’t get the info or it wasn’t available.” Scott Lewis seemed to sum it up by saying, “The Chargers are being honest about what they want. Fans should push back against the NFL and its demands. The Mayor and his team are doing the best to protect the Mayor. Fans should want straight talk. It’s our responsibility to explain how rare it is that companies can demand so much of a city and get it.”

Finding a source for this story is very easy. So much is being pushed by the city and the Chargers that if you want a story or information it’s normally being handed to you if it fits that person’s personal agenda. How is it that a National media outlet like the Associated Press can’t talk to Fabiani, but BoltBlitz.com, this very blog you’re reading right now, has interviewed him twice and been given documents in the last six months? Is the media being slowly being pushed out of the NFL for a different kind of coverage?

NFL team’s websites are not reporting at all. They are writing puff pieces designed to get fans excited to buy tickets and merchandise for their teams. That is not news. That is propaganda. What separates actual reporting from these other outlets are things teams don’t want out there. So how does one reporter trust a source as credible? Many times it’s a player in the locker room that wants a story to get out. “It’s a chore to find someone who says something that comes to fruition again and again over time,” Acee said. 

So, what about the topic of the meeting? Do the Chargers and Dean Spanos really want to stay in San Diego? The answers are not what we want to hear, but these people are the ones that deal with this topic and the necessary role players daily. Their responses should give everyone concern as to what is really going on.

“Every shred of evidence says there are leaving, but I’m not at that point yet,” Acee said. “I’m not being negative, I’m telling the truth about what is really going on.” Scott Lewis added his opinion. “I think they want to go to LA. I think they are gone, but may fail in their bid to do so.” He came to this conclusion by their real estate demands, restrictions they have set forth and the back channels everyone is receiving. Bernie Wilson added, “I think they are gone. The NFL is just about making money now”. Marty Caswell may have put it best on the night and the frustrating situation as a whole. “Yes, and I don’t know. It depends on the day,” she said.

 

In the end, no one knows anything. The Chargers are unwilling to talk to anyone and the city, although doing a much better and more efficient job of communicating with the people of San Diego, has their agenda, too. One person knows for sure, though. Let it be clear right here and right now, one person knows. But besides of speaking to other owners in the NFL, he hasn’t been heard from. Dean Spanos, where are you? You sent mailings out to the fans to buy season tickets. You’re selling your merchandise in all the stores and via online. Your eyes are on Los Angeles, but when will your mouth turn to all the loyal fans that have supported your team for all these years? Where are ya, Deano? Scott Lewis said, “Maybe the Mayor of St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego should stop treating their communities like a cartel, and say you’re treating my constituents like garbage.” Not just them but the fans as well. But then again, let’s face the cold hard truth. Maybe, just maybe, San Diego and the fans don’t fit the Chargers’ agenda anymore.

 

 

Thomas Powell

 

 

Qualcomm-Stadium
It has finally come down to working out a plan for a new football stadium for the Chargers in San Diego. Tomorrow is one of the biggest days in Charger football history. The players are Dean Spanos, Mark Fabiani, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Ron Roberts and Jan Goldsmith.

The agenda is to use the blueprint of CSAG’s stadium plan on how to come to a compromise between the City and the Chargers. The final plan in the end will most likely look nothing like the plan that was announced May 18. But it is the closest the city and the team has ever come to reaching a deal.

There is still so much that needs to be worked out. How much will the Chargers pay in the end? CSAG recommended the Chargers get 100% naming rights and half the PSL money. How will the public and private financing of the plan be detailed?  Everything is on the table for change, however. I’m sure the talks will get heated on both sides throughout the negotiation process. So there could be a “blackout” on stadium news for a while during the talks; which could take a couple of months for the two sides to reach a compromise. For fans, that probably is a much-needed rest to gear up and get excited for the 2015 season and training camp.

As for the much debated issue of having a vote when one is not needed, the thinking here is it will avoid lawsuits compromising the urgency needed to get this done and finalized in a timely manner. It will more than likely be a Special Election held in late 2015 or very early 2016. The Chargers can file relocation papers in January of 2016, so time is of the utmost urgency right now.

So, for now, it’s time to let the talks begin, allowing fans to sit back and watch it all unfold while waiting for the beginning of the 2015 Charger season. It’s about time, too!

 

Thomas Powell

BoltBlitz-800x450

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: With all of the uncertainty regarding the stadium situation in San Diego, we here at BoltBlitz.com thought it would be helpful to request and obtain an interview with Mark Fabiani, special counsel to the Chargers. Mr. Fabiani was kind enough to agree to the interview. BoltBlitz reporter Thomas Powell asked some very difficult questions, and Mr. Fabiani did not shy away from answering any of them in a very blunt and honest manner.

 

Thomas Powell: In your meeting with CSAG in January, they said your position on the location of a new stadium was “agnostic”. Many people believe the Chargers favored downtown for a variety of reasons. What do you believe led to the miscommunications, if there were any?

 

Mark Fabiani: One of many problems created by meetings that aren’t public, and that aren’t transcribed in any way, is that people can come out of those meetings and say whatever they want about what occurred in the meeting – and there is simply no way for the public to sort out what actually happened.

That’s why, right when I appeared before CSAG, we made public the text of my testimony. That testimony can be read in full here: http://www.chargers.com/news/2015/02/16/chargers-remarks-stadium-task-force-extended-version. I’m sure that fair-minded readers will conclude that the team’s position is made very clear in this testimony.

Indeed, over the last 14 years, we’ve made our position on various sites extremely clear. We have spoken regularly with the media and with the community at hundreds of public events. And over all of that time, our position hasn’t changed: What’s most important is finding a funding solution that works for the public, the elected officials, the Chargers, and the NFL. Once you figure out a mutually acceptable financing solution, the exact site chosen is of secondary importance. Remember, over the last 14 years, we have carefully evaluated sites in Chula Vista (two separate sites), National City, Oceanside, and Escondido as well as several in the City of San Diego.

Of course, having worked on this for 14 years, we have our own strong views – formed with the help of people who we’ve hired and who we believe to be the best experts around – about which sites are financeable and which ones aren’t.

Now, CSAG has said that it believes that the Mission Valley site can be financed in a publicly acceptable way, and we look forward to reviewing the plan when it is released in May.

 

Thomas Powell: Eric Grubman is the NFL executive VP for the NFL. Tony Manolatos is the CSAG spokesperson. Tony accused you and Grubman on an LA Radio Sports Station of being in a bluff scheme regarding the Carson stadium issue. I found his statements to be damaging to the process of getting a deal done here in San Diego. Tony said on the show, The Beast 980am, “We do think that Carson was collectively a big bluff, if you will, built around PSL’s. Mr. Fabiani used to be a consultant for Goldman Sachs. Mr. Grubman used to work for Goldman Sachs. So, there are many existing relationships there. We are not surprised that Goldman stepped up and said, ‘we’re going to be involved.’  I wanted to give you a chance to respond to Tony’s comments here.

 

Mark Fabiani: I can’t explain why the Mayor’s Office and CSAG chose to hire the spokesperson they hired, and why they apparently agree with his continuing efforts to criticize NFL officials, the Chargers, Carson elected officials, and Goldman Sachs. That’s really a question for the Mayor’s Office and CSAG.

 

Thomas Powell: In an article in the San Diego Reader on April 3, 2015, by Matt Potter, questions were raised about Jason Roe. Jason is Kevin Faulconer’s top political consultant. Now the city is negotiating with Delaware North, a food and beverage service contractor for sports’ venues. They have been rumored to have an interest in replacing Centerfield as the Padres’ main concessions provider. Roe has a new lobbying firm that was retained to provide support for Delaware North taking over said contract. What concerns do you have, if any, about Jason Roe and his relationship with the Mayor Faulconer?

 

Mark Fabiani:  On February 17, we sent a letter to the Mayor asking what we thought were reasonable questions about Mr. Roe’s role. A copy of that letter can be found here. The Mayor chose to not answer those questions. Since then, although the Union Tribune has religiously avoided any critical reporting on this issue, other media outlets have launched their own inquiries. Take a look here http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/government/city-council-deal-could-pump-millions-into-an-endangered-qualcomm/, or here http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/apr/16/ticker-could-feds-be-prowling-mayors-qualcomm-DEAL/.

 

Thomas Powell: Many fans wonder, as it relates to the Carson and Inglewood projects, why are the Chargers so active in Los Angeles, yet so quiet here in San Diego? What message can you relay to the Charger fans in San Diego regarding this matter?

 

Mark Fabiani: Quiet in San Diego? I don’t think I agree with that assessment. On the contrary, ever since the Mayor announced in January that his task force would deliver its results in October, we have been extremely public about the need to speed up that timetable. And since then we have been extremely public about the concerns we have about how the entire task force process is unfolding.

But even before January, take a look at the last 14 years. We’ve made nine separate proposals. We have made available $400 million in funding from the Chargers and from NFL loans. To date, spanning 14 years, these are the only serious proposals that have ever been made, and ours is the only serious money that has ever been pledged to the project.

 

Thomas Powell: The Carson City Council just voted to enact the stadium initiative sponsored by the Chargers and the Raiders. What does that mean for the prospect of a new stadium in Los Angeles – and for San Diego’s prospects?

 

Mark Fabiani: The Carson City Council vote puts the stadium site in Carson on exactly the same footing as the proposed Inglewood stadium site. Both sites are now fully entitled, with financing plans in place and NFL teams committed to the sites if the teams cannot find solutions in their home markets. Ultimately, it will be up to the owners of the NFL to make the final decision, and the matter will only come to the owners if a team (or teams) submits a relocation application for Los Angeles. That would start a formal review process by NFL officials that would eventually culminate in a vote of the owners.

At the same time, both the Chargers and the Raiders have made clear from the outset that their first priority is to find solutions in their home markets. And both teams have made clear from the start that they intend to respect the decision of the NFL owners.

 

Thomas Powell: Speaking of NFL owners, the Chargers met this week with the NFL’s Los Angeles Committee, which is made up of some of the most influential owners in the League. Tell us about those meetings.

 

Mark Fabiani: Yes, on Wednesday afternoon at NFL headquarters in New York City, the Chargers and Raiders made a joint presentation to the LA Committee of owners. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve been before the Committee. Previously we have presented, with Goldman Sachs, the financing plan for Carson, along with our strategy for securing entitlements and initial architectural renderings of the proposed Los Angeles Stadium.
At this week’s meeting, our goal was to update the owners on the progress that has been made in Carson, unveil new LA stadium renderings that are the result of two months of close collaboration between the Raiders and Chargers, and update the Committee on the situations in each of our home markets. So the Chargers provided an update on the San Diego market, and the Raiders did the same thing for Oakland. Since Eric Grubman and Chris Hardart of the NFL had visited both cities just last week and had already reported back, I don’t think we added much that was new to the League about our home market, but we appreciated the opportunity to offer the update and to answer questions that the owners had.

 

Thomas Powell: Have the Chargers changed their stance at all regarding controlling the naming rights to a stadium and a revenue-sharing program? Is this a possible negotiating tool after the financial plan is announced in due time?

 

Mark Fabiani: As I made clear in my February testimony to CSAG, the only reason for any team to have a new stadium is to allow the team to remain financially competitive with the other teams in the NFL. If the stadium developer needs to take all of the stadium revenues to pay for construction, then the team would receive no stadium revenues and would be in a dramatically less-competitive financial position than the team is in its current stadium. And, throughout the NFL, teams generally receive the revenues derived from naming rights. So if the Chargers are going to be financially competitive over the long term in San Diego, the team needs access to the same revenue streams – including naming rights – that other teams receive in their home markets.

 

Thomas Powell: I would stand behind a special election in early 2016 on a stadium vote. Do the Chargers have a position on a possible special election?

 

Mark Fabiani: A special election will not lead to a successful result. The turnout in special elections is always extremely low, and the voters who do turn out in special elections in San Diego are inclined to vote against major public projects such as this one. Our only hope for success at the ballot box would be a high-turnout, general election – and unfortunately the next one of those elections is in November 2016.

 

Thomas Powell: Have the Chargers considered moving forward in San Diego just as you are doing in Carson, with the so-called “citizen action” strategy: Gathering signatures, qualifying a measure for the ballot, and then asking the City Council to adopt the measure as is once the signatures are certified?

 

Mark Fabiani: Yes, we have looked closely at this option for San Diego and concluded that, unfortunately, it is not likely to succeed here. Simply put, in San Diego, the stadium question is going to end up on the ballot, one way or the other.

That’s because any action taken by the City Council is subject to the referendum process. Opponents of the Council’s decision can gather signatures and demand that the Council’s decision be placed before the voters. Once that happens, everything stops and the Council’s decision is effectively nullified to allow the voters pass judgment on it. Generally, that would occur at the next regularly scheduled election.

We are seeing this process play out right now in San Diego around the One Paseo development project. After six years, the project finally emerged from the entitlement process, at which point opponents started to gather signatures to put the entire project on hold until voters can decide its fate at the next regularly scheduled election. And the exact same process is playing out now statewide, as opponents of the California legislature’s plastic ban bag qualified a referendum and so put a halt to the law’s implementation. Here is a good explanation of what happened to the legislature’s plastic bag ban law: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-california-plastic-bag-ban-20150223-story.html

So, what would happen with a controversial City Council vote on the San Diego stadium project is that opponents would likely qualify a referendum – and the whole matter would end up on the ballot in 2016 anyway. That’s why, under these circumstances – if you have the time – you always try to put your project’s initiative on the ballot yourself, so that you can control the precise wording of the measure and the timing of the election.

 

Thomas Powell: There was a proposal to the Mission Valley site regarding the river walk presented by councilman Scott Sherman. You have studied the Mission Valley site for years. It seems to bring up a lot of potential obstacles that could aid in the effort to fund a stadium. What is your heart-felt message to the voters and Charger fans in San Diego? Have the Chargers communicated an opinion on the river walk proposal?

 

Mark Fabiani: We have a great relationship with Councilman Sherman, and we welcomed his recent involvement in the process. Councilman Sherman is exactly right when he says that the parking lot at the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley could be put to a much more productive and better use, including by creating a riverfront park.

This was the exact premise of the proposal we made to the City in 2004, which would have required the Chargers to finance the entire project (including a river-front park) in return for the City providing 60 of the 166 Mission Valley acres to the team. As you know, the City at the time refused to support our proposal.

What we encountered in 2004, and what Councilman Sherman’s press conference participants encountered more recently, are questions about what kind of density can be supported in Mission Valley in light of all of the other development that has occurred there in recent years. These issues are vital to the residents of Mission Valley, and they potentially create huge infrastructure improvement costs that must be added on to the cost of any project in Mission Valley.

One way or the other, though, as Councilman Sherman said, these issues will have to be dealt with at some point in the future, either as part of a stadium development or as part of a new use for the entire Mission Valley site.

We have promised to evaluate carefully CSAG’s Mission Valley proposal when it is made public. We look forward to doing that.

 

Thomas Powell: Are you okay being labeled the villain in all of this? Some view you as the most negative influence in all this, and the main reason there is so much friction between the Chargers and City Hall. Do you care about your reputation in San Diego? Or are you just focused on doing your job and being a good soldier? Basically, for the people who don’t know you, who is the real Mark Fabiani?

 

Mark Fabiani: If it were easy to build a new NFL stadium in Southern California, several new facilities would have been built a long time ago – in LA, in San Diego, in Orange County. This is very difficult stuff. And when you try to do difficult things, there’s inevitably going to be controversy. And then there’s the old saying: Incoming fire is evidence that you’ve been hitting the right targets. So that’s pretty much how I look at it.

 

Thomas Powell: Some fans were deeply hurt by the team’s decision to negotiate with Carson over the past 9 months in private, and the mutual announcement with the Oakland Raiders. Why was that decision made, and do you have a message you’d like to deliver to the fans here in San Diego? If so, please do it here.

 

Mark Fabiani: We explained the Carson decision on the day it was announced, and that full explanation can be found here: http://www.chargers.com/news/2015/02/20/chargers-and-raiders-join-forces-carson-community-group-support-new-los-angeles-nfl/.

And, of course, we understood that fans would be upset by this decision. That’s why we waited 14 years to make this decision; we did everything we possibly could do over that time to avoid making an announcement such as the one we made in Carson. So we hope people in San Diego will keep that in perspective as they evaluate all of this.

We also hope that fans understand that the steps we have taken in Carson have only been taken as a last resort – taken only after 14 years of inaction here in San Diego and only after an aggressive move by another NFL franchise to take over the LA and Orange County markets.

 

Finally, and most important of all, we hope fans will remember what we have said again and again: Our first priority remains to find a solution in San Diego in 2015, and the Carson option will be exercised if only if we fail to find such a solution.

 

We’d like to thank Mr. Fabiani for taking the time to do this interview. This was not our first interview with him, and hopefully it won’t be the last.

 

BoltBlitz-800x450

 

Mark Fabiani was appointed special counsel to Dean Spanos in 2002.  After doing some research, I found out that he has quite the resumé. The former Harvard graduate has worked for both Bill Clinton and Al Gore. He has dealt with Mayors in the past while serving as L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley’s Chief of Staff. Additionally, he served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the United States Justice Department.

 

This man clearly has a history of accomplishments and achievements. It takes multiple parties to engage in negotiations and find a suitable solution that benefits all groups involved. But, Mr. Fabiani has had to deal with 6 different mayors. Now the urgency level is at an all-time high. Los Angeles is a vital part of the Chargers’ market. The NFL has taken steps to consider placing two teams in L.A. The Chargers have offered many proposals to the city, and all have died at the City Hall door steps.

 

Which leads us to where we are now.

 

The Mayor gave a speech last month and, of course, the Chargers remaining here was one of the focal points. However, he mentioned Steve Cushman would be involved in the Convention Center expansion. Cushman has been an obstructionist in every step the Chargers have taken over the years including the Chula Vista and 10th Ave Terminal locations. As fans of keeping the Chargers in San Diego, you have your guy to get this done here in America’s finest city.

 

It will take a 66% approval vote in November of 2016 to keep the Bolts. The Mayor, in the eyes of many, punted the issue by naming another task force to achieve the goals of a stadium. But this means nothing until August. A task force will be announced and work through the spring and summer to develop the plan for a stadium. Hoteliers do not want a hotel tax mixed in with the stadium and convention center expansion.

Now let’s meet the man whose sole mission is to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

1) A few months ago it appeared that neither the Chargers nor the city officials wanted to talk on the record regarding the stadium issue because they didn’t want the negotiations to be played out in the media. What has changed to make both parties open to discussion?

 

Mark Fabiani:  First of all, thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions. With all of the recent news in San Diego, and then the inevitable and recurring rumors out of Los Angeles, we always appreciate the opportunity to reach our fans directly.

Your question is right on. For months we had been working quietly with the Mayor’s Office, establishing what we had thought was a good line of communication and the open sharing of ideas. What changed recently, of course, was the Mayor’s State of the City address on January 14. I think we all watched the buildup to that speech, both in the media and by the Mayor’s Office, and wondered if a major announcement would be made.

Instead, though, we heard from the Mayor about the dual appointment of another task force and of Steve Cushman to a key role in the process. And we reacted to those developments in a way that pleased some people but troubled others. We understood there would be that kind of mixed reaction, but in the end we determined that the best interests of the process would be served by a forthright public response. So that’s what we did.

2) The idea of forming a committee to find a solution for a new stadium has already been tried and failed. Is there anything new that makes you feel fundamentally different that can lead to a solution which keeps the Chargers in San Diego?

 

Mark Fabiani:  We would be the happiest people in the world if someone suddenly showed up in San Diego with a magical solution to the stadium problem – a solution that we had looked over the last 13 years. That would be a fantastic result, and perhaps someone the Mayor appoints to his task force will devise a solution that has eluded everyone else for all these years.

The challenge, of course, is that stadium solutions that have worked elsewhere in the country generally don’t work here in California because of special provisions in the California Constitution. In particular, in California, any tax increase for a particular purpose must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the people – an extraordinarily difficult hurdle to overcome under any circumstances.

Remember, the City of San Diego has already appointed a 15-member task force on the stadium issue, and on two other occasions the City spent a considerable amount of money hiring expert stadium consultants from outside of San Diego. In all of these instances, the work that was done did not produce fresh solutions.

 

3) It was announced that Petco Park will host the All-Star Game in 2016. City officials and the media immediately pointed to economic impact the event will have for San Diego. Can the All-Star Game be used to swing public opinion for a new multi-purpose stadium that has the potential to hold many large events with similar financial impact?

 

Mark Fabiani: Yes, that’s right. The best argument we have for our proposed downtown multi-use stadium is that the facility will allow San Diego to attract a wide variety of events – not just NFL games and Super Bowls, but the NCAA Final Four, the college football national championship game, major boxing and MMA matches, International soccer matches, large religious and political conventions – the kinds of events that we will never be able to attract without such a joint use facility.

 

4) What do you need from the fans to help with the situation? What is your opinion of the SaveOurBolts grassroots movement to keep the Chargers in San Diego?

 

 

Mark Fabiani: We are incredibly grateful for the support our fans have shown us over the last 13 years as we have pursued a stadium solution. No doubt, this period has been as frustrating for our fans as it has been for us.

 

Going forward, it’s important for fans to let their elected representatives know that this is an important issue for the San Diego region. This can be done by communicating directly with the offices of elected officials, or by commenting online whenever there is an article published on this topic.

 

It is also really important for our supporters to share the information they have on the stadium issue with family, friends and work colleagues. That type of one-on-one communication can be particularly persuasive.

 

 

5) What are the hurdles that are in the way that need to be overcome to entice the Spanos family into staying in San Diego?

 

 

Mark Fabiani: First, the Spanos family wants nothing more than to stay and keep the Chargers in San Diego. After 13 years of work, there is really just one hurdle – and it is a huge one: How do you finance the stadium in a way that works for taxpayers and allows the Chargers to remain economically competitive with the top teams in the NFL going forward?

 

Other cities and states around the country have surmounted this hurdle by providing a taxpayer subsidy to their stadium projects. That option simply hasn’t been in the cards for us here in San Diego.

 

 

6) I’m under the impression that you don’t think PSLs will work in San Diego for funding the stadium. Can you elaborate why?

 

 

Mark Fabiani: The sale of Preferred Seat Licenses (PSLs) in tremendous amounts has provided the backbone for some of the most recent stadium financings, including in Dallas, at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and, most recently, with the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara. For example, by selling hundreds of millions of dollars of PSLs at the outset of their project were able to minimize the amount of public contribution required.

 

When it comes to the San Diego market, this is always a tough question for us, because the answer to this question can sound like a complaint about our current market. But the answer is not intended as a complaint; we truly value our market and our fans. The fact is, though, that the San Diego market simply will not support the sale of PSLs on top of the purchase price of tickets that fans already pay. Our marketing studies confirm this, as does the experience of the Padres when the team attempted to sell a PSL-like product at the opening of Petco Park.

 

Again, I want to emphasize that this is not a complaint about our market. It is simply a candid answer to the question about why the Chargers can’t follow in the 49ers’ new stadium footsteps.

 

 

7) You didn’t sound too impressed with the Mayor’s plan of a task force and waiting until the Fall for their recommendations. What specifically did you find disheartening for those fans that haven’t heard your radio interviews?

 

 

Mark Fabiani: We made our views clear after the Mayor’s speech regarding the task force approach and about Steve Cushman’s continuing involvement in the process. (For those who want to read more about what we said, take a look at http://www.chargers.com/news/2015/01/15/chargers-respond-mayor’s-proposal-another-city-task-force). But at this point, it doesn’t make sense to dwell on what happened. Instead, going forward, we will continue to do as we have done over the past 13 years – now into our 14th year – and find a way to work with the Mayor’s task force and to finally find a way to overcome the hurdles that have so far stymied us.

 

 

8) How can fans in the county but not in the City of San Diego do to support and be on the same page as the Chargers in this effort?

 

Mark Fabiani: We are going to do everything possible to make any ballot measure that goes before the voters a county-wide ballot measure. Everyone recognizes that the team is a regional asset and any solution should be a regional one as well. We have always believed that there are solid legal justifications for a county-wide vote and we remain determined to achieve that goal.

 

On behalf of BoltBlitz.com I would like to thank Mr. Fabiani for taking the time to do this interview.

 

Thomas Powell

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EDITOR’S NOTE: BoltBlitz.com launched on February 26th of 2013.  The two weeks prior to the launch were spent building the site and getting things in order to begin what I had hoped would be a successful blog.  The website had a ton of success in its first year.  I brought over Greg Williams with me from a site that we used to write for in the past.  Jarvis Royall has been a part of my team for the majority of its existence.  Williams and Royall are ranked number two and three, respectively, in number of articles written on BoltBlitz.com.

Little did I know, it would be working together with Thomas Powell to take this thing to a high level at a very rapid pace.  Take a look at all we were a part of in 2014.  It is quite humbling when you see it all written down.  We were clearly blessed last year.

 

The 2014 Charger season began with Booga in North Carolina while I was here in San Diego. We had just started to team together to make BoltBlitz.com the biggest fan site for Charger news and information. We also wanted to unite Charger fans from Facebook and Twitter. Then Booga landed a radio show on 107.9 fm Mountain Country here in San Diego, BoltBlitzLIVE. So he, at a great sacrifice to himself, left North Carolina and moved in and the framework for our plans began to unfold. He had been covering the team from across the country and we could communicate better in achieving our goals with him here in San Diego.

So with BoltBlitzLive set to air in June of 2014, Booga arrived in April. We planned our goals and what we both wanted to achieve. Then he left for New York and attended the NFL Draft a few weeks later. But before he left, the plan was set in motion to unite Charger fans: A BoltBlitz Meetup. The date was set for May 31st at the Tilted Kilt in Mission Valley. While he was gone I promoted the meetup and when he returned we went like a steam train putting the news out there.

While pushing and promoting the meetup, we had many questions about its success.  One of the main concerns was whether or not fans would show up in the middle of May to talk Charger football. I mean, it was the offseason. Booga and I worked on the players and the media to get them to attend. Nothing this big had ever been done before, but we were determined to make this a very special event for the fans. Booga was set to raffle off over $4,000 dollars in Charger gear he had obtained over the years.  The many hours of planning for this were, at times, overwhelming. But we knew it was worth it. Even the Chargers front office got wind of the event as people were getting excited and sharing the news all over Facebook and Twitter. Booga and I were hoping for between 50 or 70 people for this event.

 

BoltBlitzMeetup

 

 

As May 31st came, we learned for the first time to not ever underestimate Charger fans and their devotion to the team. People were arriving 2 hours before the event took place. By the time it started an astounding 225 people packed the Kilt from the front to the back. Charger offensive linemen Craig Watts and Jeremiah Sirles showed up for autographs and pictures with the fans. Our good friend Jesse Arroyo of www.arroyophotos.com took pictures of the fans smiling and laughing together and the group picture. Derek Togerson of NBCSanDiego came with his video camera to broadcast it on the 6:30 pm newscast that night. Fans were making friends and exchanging numbers. Laughter and smiles filled the room. Everyone had one thing in common that night, a deep devotion to the Chargers. A team that loves a team! The next morning Facebook was flooded for hours with fans sharing their pictures of the event on social media. The meetup was a smashing success. That morning we started planning the next meetup.

But first was the debut of BoltBlitzLive. Booga did the very first show live by himself. Then he was joined by Jamie Hoyle our staff writer at the time. I joined them a couple of weeks later to create a 3-man booth. We interviewed Craig Watts, Marion Grice, Alden Darby, Thomas Keiser, Adam Rank of NFL Network, Steve Adler and Eddie Brown UT Staff draft writer. We had Antonio Garay, Derek Togerson, and Fernando Ramirez of SportsSpeak  (who covers the Chargers) live in studio. We took calls from fans from all across the country including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Delaware, New York, Nevada, Washington, Texas, Michigan and, of course, San Diego among other places in California. It was a great time but now the 2nd meetup was ready to go!

 

BoltBlitzMeetup2

 

The 2nd BoltBlitz meetup was at the Tilted Kilt on July 12th. The excitement was building through social media for another event. Most of our staff writers were there. So were CS Keys, Dan McLellan formerly of CBSSports, Eddie Brown of the UT and Tricia Mathews (Ryan Mathews’ mother).  She was there to support their charity the Door of Hope Chest to help single mothers gets the necessities of life. She came all the way from Bakersfield. She took pictures with the fans and donated a pair Ryan Mathews autographed cleats.  One fan came all the way from Seattle just to attend the meetup. It was such an honor for us to have him there and introduce him. The turnout was an astounding 250 people. The night ended with Booga and I in dresses posing for pictures. Fans exploded with laughter. It was another huge success that night.

 

BoogaTomKeiser

 

As the season approached we attended the Chargers MCAS Miramar practice with press passes. It was a practice with the Military, their family members and the Charger players. We were able to take pictures and talk to several players and members of the organization afterwards including Philip Rivers, Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy. The preseason kicked off with Booga in the press box for the Dallas game and quite a few regular season games. I was able to attend practice on Wednesday covering the team as they prepared for Oakland. We were both very appreciative of the access the Chargers allowed us.  We owe a big thank you to Bill Johnston for those opportunities.

 

FoxSportsGrill1

 

As our 3rd meetup approached at the Fox Sports Grill in Downtown. LaDarius Green showed up for a meet and greet. Many of the fans were now not only friends but family.  The view over the bay was gorgeous and Jesse Arroyo handled the group photo again.  The management there was kind enough to donate five $50.00 gift cards for our raffle. We realized at this one to put an emphasis on incorporating the kids in our events.  We had a few of the youngsters hop on the microphone and announce some of the raffle winners. Lesson learned.

 

 

Bonfire (1)

 

The Bolts started the season off strong and all was good in Charger land. So a celebration was in store during the bye week. An intimate evening for the fans: A bonfire at Fiesta Island under the stars. I have to admit this was one of my favorite events. Everyone – about 80 fans – standing near the fire under the night sky smiling and laughing again. But this one was special because we met so many of you for the first time. There were so many new faces at this event. Everyone who attended has become very close friends with Booga and I. They have joined the family and have done so much for us. Future bonfires will happen. The amount of people were smaller than the meetups, but the interaction was so much more personal. It was a great night for all of us.

Through the exposures of these events we were contacted by Paddy Pickford of Evolution Lighthouse to help hold an event downtown where Eric Weddle would sell his jewelry to help stop domestic violence against women. It was held at Taste and Thirst in downtown. It was quite personal as a lot of our guests shared their experiences of what they have gone through. The event raised more money than any other charity in their history. Again, don’t ever underestimate Charger fans, folks.

Our focus of uniting Charger fans and supporting the Bolts continued as we planned 4 viewing parties for the away games. We gathered at La Bella’s in Chula Vista. Fans gathered to be with their fellow family members to watch the games together. It was a good time and San Diego went 3-1 at La Bella’s when the BoltBlitz family got together there.

 

P4

 

This brings me to the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We were welcomed to the Bolt Pride tailgate in P4 at the Qualcomm stadium parking lot. We are simply boys among men with these guys. When you are passionate about something in your life, you want to share it with people who share that passion among others; the ones who feel the same way you do. The atmosphere there is amazing. It is a close-knit family sharing the same experience. It is what Booga and I envisioned yet they had already achieved. The music and the dancing was legendary. Bolt Pride, we thank you all so much for the experience. Truly a heartfelt thank you goes out to Rafael Alvarez, Josh Casillas and Johnny BoltPride.  You are Charger fan legends and we thank you all. Much respect to all of the BoltPride members and we love your group and all that you do.

 

BoogaTomRyanRonnie

 

 

Thanks to Joe Allen again, we were asked to cover the 2nd Annual Ryan Mathews Golf Tournament.  It was a great day as we hung out with Mathews, Seyi Ajirotutu, Ronnie Brown and their friends at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and golf course.  All three Chargers were really cool and each had a great sense of humor.  I won’t get into their golfing abilities.

I am an administrator on several Charger pages on Facebook. While cleaning up one of these pages I came across a 3-year-old with terminal brain cancer. I stared at his picture for 10 seconds and he had me. Something about his mother’s post just got to me. It’s not like we don’t see these posts all the time, but this was like love at first sight. Killy’s mother, Amanda Sardelis, stated he was a Ryan Mathews fan.  They were contacted by Joe Allen from Strikes for Kids and got Killy a signed football and autograph. But the boy stayed on my mind. At work, at home, and while sleeping he was on my mind. Maybe because my kids just moved away. I don’t know, but he was my obsession. He wasn’t looked upon as a son, exactly. Nephew? Nah. Brother? Nah? But he was mine. I fell in love with him immediately.

My father died of cancer, as did my grandfather. You took them but you’re NOT taking him, PERIOD! This was so personal to me. ALL I cared about was a boy named Killy. Cancer talks to so many today. We all know someone. But a 3-year-old? Seriously? Come on? NO! You won’t take him, not him, NO! Love overcomes all and people will love him.

I had no idea the impact that Killy would have on others as he did on me. I went to Booga and shared his story. We decided we’re going to do something for him. We talked and due to having many media contacts and influence among the fans, we wanted to reach out to as many people as possible. The fans have taught us many things. Most importantly, we’re family!

 

KillySantaHat

 

When a family member gets sick, what does family do? They come running in like the cavalry. And you certainly did come blazing in. We shared his story on Facebook and Twitter and you fell in love with him too. We all were going to make this boy’s Christmas the best of any child on earth. The family was assembled and the family responded in such a way that brings me to tears. We can get 40-50 fans together to bring him Christmas presents. YES, that is it. We’ll meet him and bring him presents.

We then asked our Facebook friends to change their profile picture to him 2 weeks before the event on Dec 13th. HA! The next morning everyone changed their picture to the little boy in a Charger Santa hat. I thought maybe 30-40 people would change their profile picture.  Over 400 people (could be more we don’t know the exact numbers) changed their pics. Killy was EVERYWHERE! Mess with family but don’t mess with Charger Family!

When people call San Diego a bandwagon city, tell them to go Google Killy. Even Matthew T. Hall of the UT ran a story about the movement. Killy actually proved if we unite in a cause it can be overwhelming. Nancy Castro of Telemundo, Derek Togerson, Dan McLellan and Annie Heilbrunn all changed their profile pictures to Killy. Presents were sent in from Twitter and Facebook from all across the country. Even Thomas Keiser sent Killy a gift. #KillyStrong and #KillysArmy were hashtagged everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. But would the fans respond? Would they show up to an event to meet our little celebrity on December 13th twelve days before Christmas?  YES, YOU DID! Around 80 people showed with presents at Chargers Complex on December 13th to meet Killy. Then we all hopped in our vehicles and headed out to the Q, cars honking to party with Killy and show him what a tailgate is like.

 

KillyQ

 

Dan McLellan dressed up as Santa Clause and Elmo, per a referral from the Make A Wish Foundation, came. Animals for Children came as well. Every fan lined up to meet Killy personally and hand him a present. To everyone who attended, you’re forever in my heart. I love you so much. To Amanda,Valerie and Jimmy we support you and love you. To Killy, you know how we feel about you. You are incredibly special!

 

BoogaTomKilly

 

Our last event of 2014 was our final viewing party at La Bella’s. We were all shocked and heartbroken by the week 17 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. We accepted that the loss, as heartbreaking as it seemed, was just a loss. Now back to family. Amanda brought Killy down to spend time with the BoltBlitz family. We laughed and shared memories with him after the game. Why? Because that is what family does! So many of you are our family. I can’t tell you enough how much we love you all. For those who have welcomed us into your homes, we thank you. For those of you who have been in our home, we thank you and you appreciate you being in our lives.  To Bolt Pride, the media, and the fans, we LOVE you!

By uniting we all showed what can happen when we come together. Now, let’s go fight for our stadium and Keep Our Bolts in San Diego! You’ve proven that anything can happen.  We have two exciting events coming up in the last week of February that we’ll be making announcements about in the coming days. Let’s make 2015 smash 2014.

 

Leave a comment on the website in the section below. Not on FB or Twitter, but below. Let us know we met you and at what event.  That would be great information to help us all share in the amazing memories. And, of course, always stay #KILLYSTRONG!

Thank you all for your support.

 

Thomas Powell

killy

 

One day at work I happened to be on a Charger fan page on Facebook.  Shhhh.  I came across a post from a mother that happened to have a 3-year-old son, also a Charger fan, that had terminal brain cancer.  His name is Killy.

I’ve seen so many of these posts on social media.  For one reason or another, it really got to me.  It was touching to see him in his favorite player’s jersey, Ryan Mathews.  I kept looking at it and thinking that there must be something that I can do.  I had no clue what it would be initially, but it came to me shortly thereafter the next morning.  After seeing that Joe Allen — of Strikes for kids — commented that he would be connecting with Mathews to send Killy an autographed photo by Ryan, I wanted to contribute and help make Killy’s Christmas the best it could be from people outside of Killy’s family.

My decision kept him on my mind after speaking with Booga Peters.  The connections that BoltBlitz.com has, between Booga and myself, with the players, San Diego media and Charger front office, must allow us to figure something special out for a young boy that deserves so much.  After talking to Booga at length, it no longer became a matter of doing something, it was a matter of doing something BIG!

It was done.  This is going to happen.  By big, I thought that, perhaps, 50 people would find a way to do their part to ensure the best Christmas of all-time for this young child.  We had almost 100 people show up and gifts were sent from all over the United States and outside of the country.  I am not kidding.  Gifts from Japan, hard work to spread the word from England and Belgium helped make this happen.

Within the US, Eric Carroll and Guillermo Sandoval, which I still can’t pronounce Sandoval’s first name, collaborated to design a banner, have it sent to Los Angeles and then have it shipped to my place.  Prior to having it shipped to San Diego, the LA fans, under the direction of Carroll, signed the banner and flooded it with well-wishes and prayers for Killy.

This is one of the closest, most giving, fanbases in the country.  Fans exploded, exclaiming, “What can I do?”

Momentum was growing faster than expected.  Killy’s story touched everyone as much as it touched me.  His mother, Amanda Marie Sardellis, provided a documentary video that was filmed by Ron Parida.

Grab your kleenex, folks.

 

 

 

That video, even after the fact, is difficult to watch.  And that confirms why this was a mission that had to be accomplished.

As mentioned above, the event was amazing.  Not only did 100 Charger fans show up, a few non-Charger fans attended with Charger gear on in support of Killy and his special day.

The number of people who changed their profile picture on Facebook and avatar on Twitter was overwhelming.  It was an indicator of things to come.  Talk about a serious level of nervousness to ensure he had the best Christmas ever.  We, Booga and I, were a wreck for days.  And that includes the day of the event.

San Diego media members, among the Charger fans, that joined the photo switch included Derek Togerson, Annie Heilbrunn and Nancy Castro.  Another clue that the support for Killy’s family and his situation was strong beyond words.

The UT San Diego even caught wind of the event.  Via Matthew T. Hall, an article and interview was even posted on their website and in the newspaper.

Take a look at this link.  #Killy’sArmy #KillyStrong

 

Back to where the gifts were sent from.  Fans from Arizona, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois were sent to us.  In fact, one of the gifts that was sent from Arizona was done so by former Charger Thomas Keiser.

The plan was to meet at Chargers Park.  Despite a bit of difficulty making that happen, we decided to move forward with the beginning of his special day.  I met Charger fans at the complex and we all awaited Killy’s arrival.  Booga was with his family right down the road.  It was time.  They then left to head our way.

After arriving to a resounding ovation and loud cheering that about had me in tears, the family approached the group.  It got really loud.  Peters was carrying Killy and then handed him off to me.  Booga then “jogged,” he’s not much of a runner, to the office at Chargers Park to pick up a special gift.  Because of Craig Watts Jr., we were able to drop off the ball days before the event and have almost all of the Chargers sign it.  He then came speed-walking back with the signed ball.

Talk about special.

Upon receiving the ball, Killy kissed it and then continued to spike it on the sidewalk while we moved the convoy to Qualcomm stadium.

Here is where some more magic happened.

I took the time to contact the Make-A-Wish foundation.  Knowing that Killy was a huge fan of Elmo, I wanted an Elmo to be at the Q!  Then Make-A-Wish hooked me up with Animals for Little Kids.  After a few days, that was exactly what was secured.  We knew Elmo was coming.

Due to the media contacts we have, I spoke to Dan McLellan, formerly of CBS Rapid Reports and knowing his background in acting and theater, he volunteered to show up as Santa Claus.

Wait a second.  Elmo and Santa Claus?  Now we’re cooking with fire.

The event started like no other.  Will anyone show up?  This was about two weeks before Christmas.  There is so much for families to do that involved their own families during this time of year.

We all started this to change the life of a little boy who deserved it so much, but he never asked for it.  In turn, he changed our lives.  He single-handedly changed the lives of people in so many places.

We love you, Killy, Amanda, Valerie Jimmy and the rest of the family.  We were incredibly blessed by meeting your family.  We all may be Charger fans for life, but, don’t forget, we’re all Killy fans for life as well.

 

Here’s how the video of the event went from Chargers Park to Qualcomm.  The video below is courtesy of Adolfo Villanueva.

 

 

Thanks to EVERYONE that was a part of this amazing event.  So many people did their part to help ensure Killy would have the best Christmas ever.  I have never been more proud of the Charger fanbase.  I can’t say that I ever will be this proud again.

Merry Christmas, Killy and Charger fans!!!

 

Thomas Powell

DennisGibsonArmsUp

 

 

Twenty years ago, Junior Seau, Stan Humphries and Bobby Ross led the Chargers to their first and only Super bowl in 1994.  It is now 2014 and the similarities of that squad can be found with this year’s team.

That season began in Denver.  I recall lightning in the background of Mile High stadium on a stormy night in Colorado.  How symbolic of how the season would go for the Chargers.  This year San Diego opened up in Glendale against the Cardinals.  It would figure that Arizona would be experiencing the worst flooding the area had ever experienced.

Bobby Ross was in year 3 at the helm of the team in ’94 and the Chargers were coming off of an 8-8 season.  General manager Bobby Beathard was also in his third year in the front office with the team.  Current head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco and both in their second years with San Diego.

The Chargers began the 1994 campaign with a 7-2 record steamrolling through the first 9 games.  As we’ve written here on BoltBlitz.com, the 2014 Chargers have a great opportunity to that very same thing as the schedule sets up favorably for them.

Speaking of the schedule, the next opponents are the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Dolphins, Raiders again and the Rams.  The Seau-led Chargers faced all of those teams as well during 1994.  Additionally, both the ’14 team and the ’94 team faced, or will face, the Seahawks, Jets, Patriots and 49ers.

It is pretty interesting when you look at the like-opponents.

Let’s talk about the Miami game.  The Chargers haven’t won in Miami during the regular season since 1981.  Booga was probably still crapping in his diapers.  Many of us are speculating on how special this Philip Rivers’ team can be.  A win in Miami this year and they will have done something they haven’t done in 33 years.  Imagine the plane ride home.  Hank Bauer, the Chargers play-by-play co-host would be speaking to the team about what they had just done.  He knows what an incredible feat it would be seeing as he played in the 1981 victory over the Dolphins. Do you realize the bonding that would take place?  All thoughts would then turn to the magical 1994 club and how this year’s Super Chargers can replicate that very same success.

When looking at the ’94 roster, what gets me is that team wasn’t overly talented.  They were well coached and a few players had career years. Natrone Means was one of those players that would have a career year.  That was the only year that he would surpass 1,000 yards rushing. Ryan Mathews has already had two seasons with 1,000 yards or more rushing.  The next comparison goes to the signal callers.  Philip Rivers or Stan Humphries?  Both are very tough, gritty quarterbacks.  But if you compare the numbers – although it’s a different league nowadays – it isn’t even close.

If you compare the rosters from top to bottom, it would seem that this year’s Bolts are more talented.  Do some of the homework.  The wide receiving corps and tight ends are better in 2014.  There is no Seau on this year’s team, but overall the linebacking group is better.  There certainly was no Eric Weddle back then.  Rodney Harrison was a rookie and didn’t see a ton of playing time.  The addition of Brandon Flowers and the selection of Jason Verrett in the draft would possibly turn the scales toward the secondary this year trumping that of a defensive back unit that was led by guys like Stanley Richard, Darrien Gordon and Darren Carrington.  But an argument could be made for either side.

I actually remember the ’94 season very well.  The Chargers came out of nowhere.  There was no NFL Network.  ESPN was basically a one-hour broadcast regarding the NFL.  San Diego was ignored until their play demanded the country’s attention.  Sound familiar?

People talk about the “curse” of the 1994 Chargers.  Eight players have passed from that team.  The Bolts have not been back to the Super bowl in 20 years, but they may have a little divine intervention in the form of 8 Charger angels looking down on them.

How exciting would it be two decades after watching Junior Seau run out of the tunnel of Joe Robbie stadium during Super bowl 29 to see Philip Rivers do the very same thing this year at University of Phoenix stadium?

Can you feel the goosebumps?

All of us celebrating at the Tilted Kilt in Mission Valley or on Twitter and Facebook.  The tears of joy would be flowing and Bolt family members would have something incredible to be proud.  No one would ever be able to take that away from us.  Ever!

Sure, it’s a one game at a time approach, but every Super bowl Cinderella team has a special story.  The Patriots winning the big game after September 11th.  The Saints bringing home the Lombardi trophy after Hurricane Katrina.  The Chargers going to the Super bowl 20 years after their first appearance?  Talk about special.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll all be watching the clock tick to 0:00 and watching the confetti fall on this year’s San Diego Chargers.  I look forward to being with as many of you as possible as we raise a toast to our team and the 8 men watching from the heavens.

This does seem to be a special season.  It is early, but I have a very strong feeling we’ll be talking about this article in February.

 

Thomas Powell

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After an exciting 4-1 start, the Chargers have put themselves in perfect position to compete for the division crown. The Bolts have shown moments of absolute brilliance during the first portion of the season, but they have also had moments that make you want to shake your head. In reality, the Bolts are one bad snap away from being 5-0.

This is the third time in four years that San Diego has started the season 4-1, while that is an impressive stat, the Bolts have only been able to turn one of those into a playoff appearance. If they want to make a second consecutive trip to the playoffs, they must be able to avoid the occasional letdown.

It’s no secret that the Chargers have one of the most formidable schedules in the NFL this year. But the next few weeks set up very well for them. The next seven games are against opponents with a combined record of 8-18, and they should be favored in six of those seven (Week 8, at Denver, being the exception). If the Bolts have any aspirations of winning the AFC West, they must take advantage of the next seven games.

That being said, I expect San Diego to own a 7-2 record heading into their Week 10 bye. Following the bye, San Diego will face the Raiders and Rams at home, which are both games that they should, and will, win. Then, assuming the Chargers are sitting at 9-2, they begin to get into the meat of their schedule.

The last five games are against opponents with a combined record of 11-8 with games against Baltimore, San Francisco, and Kansas City on the road, and New England and Denver at home. If the Chargers can make it through the last five games with a 3-2 record that would leave them with a 12-4 record heading into the playoffs.

Again, for this scenario to actually play out, the Bolts must take advantage of the favorable schedule over the next few weeks. The AFC Wildcard looks to be much more competitive this season, and I’m not sure 9-7 will be good enough to earn a spot in the playoffs. With that being said, it is in the their best interest to win as many as possible, and the next seven games give them the perfect opportunity to gain space between themselves and the rest of the AFC.

Here’s to hoping the Chargers are capable of avoiding a letdown this season. I have full faith in Mike McCoy and his coaching staff, and I can’t help but notice there is a different mindset surrounding this team than there has been in years past. I think this has the makings to be a very special season. So buckle you seat belt and enjoy the ride.

Go Chargers! BoltUp!

 

Matthew Grayson

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Jeromey Clary is one of the most heavily debated players in Chargers history. He is also one of the most hated among the fan base. Clary was drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 NFL Draft.  After spending a year on the practice squad, Clary became a starter late in the 2007 season. Over the final 5 games with Clary in the lineup, the Chargers went 5-0 scoring 8 rushing touchdowns and rushed for 880 yards. The Chargers with Clary at RT went to the AFC Championship Game. In 2010, Clary won the Ed Block courage award for recovering from a serious ankle injury. What happened after that? Clary played every snap in 2010 and 2011. Let me say that again. He played in EVERY snap in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In 2012, he played in 14 games. In 2013, the Chargers moved Clary to RG and he restructured his deal. So now let’s see what Mike thinks.

Mike:   Clary’s play was atrocious at RT between 2010 and 2012.  Speed rushers sped past him like a hot rod speeding past a radar cop on a doughnut break.  Bull rushers simply pushed him back into Philip Rivers’ face.  He drew a ton of false start penalties, apparently realizing he was over-matched.  If not for his work ethic endearing him to the previous regime, he may have been kicked to the curb long ago.

Thomas:  Since moving to RG he has improved. After restructuring his contract, Clary is a huge bargain at 1.6 million. Did you see Troutman? Clary is an all-pro compared to what we have on the roster. There’s a reason he is one of the most popular players in the locker room. He plays every snap and can play multiple position something that Telesco admires in his locker room.

Mike:  All well and good, Thomas, but he’s hurt.  As in PUP list hurt.  As in unable to even practice until Week Seven hurt.  He won’t be playing ANY snaps until November.  He’s not a Dan Dierdorf or a Mike Goff that people will be willing to wait for.  His absence creates a hole that must be filled yesterday.  Hardwick is lost for the season and may retire now.

Thomas: The offensive line is in poor shape and one injury away from the Chargers being in a disastrous situation. But it’s a long season and they could reach the playoffs and Clary would help dramatically in the stretch run toward the playoffs. He’s gone after this year, we know that. But Clary right now is one helluva tool in the shed. You never know when you’re going to need him. Watt is an emergency center now. Troutman is getting beat on every snap although it has only been a small sample size.

Mike: With Clary being ineligible to practice, let alone play until Week Seven, the Chargers can ill-afford to wait for him to see if he’ll be able to go.  They have to scour the wire now to strengthen the offensive line and deal with Clary when and if he can practice beginning Week Seven.

 

Thomas Powell and Mike Pisciotta

 

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When Tom Telesco arrived in San Diego he talked about changing the culture in this city and on this team.  Sunday was a prime example that his mission has started. The Chargers have seldom been a team to win a BIG game. Either through turnovers, penalties or bad decisions (coaches and players) they struggled with “closing” the game out, especially the defense. They would be close, but couldn’t finish the game with a win.

Then Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks came. Even the weather in San Diego became a factor. With temperatures reaching 120 degrees on the field, the Chargers used their no-huddle offense to tire out the Seattle defense with little time for switching their players on and off the field. The stands were packed full of Chargers fans outnumbering the green of the Seahawks fans.

The Chargers were facing the Super Bowl Champions and the Legion of Boom. The Chargers response to that? Meh, they didn’t give a damn. San Diego’s gameplan was they will dictate the game, no one else. The time of possession, the physicality of the game, the execution, and then when all that was done they imposed their will on the Seahawks. Period!

Whether it was Keenan Allen juking Richard Sherman out of his jock strap or Ingram and Freeney bringing the pass rush off the edges, the Bolts came out to play.  And they did just that. The Seahawks had no answer for Danny Woodhead and the Chargers quarterback bleeding in the blazing hot sun, going all surgical on the Seahawks defense. How about the San Diego fans basking in dangerous heat conditions pushing out maybe the loudest game in Chargers history at the Murph! Yeah, I said the Murph!  Reporters were tweeting out about the amount of noise coming out of that stadium from the Chargers diehards.

At that point the whole change in the culture slogan got it’s icing on the cake. In the final minutes of the game, the Charger defense was on the field. They needed a stop to achieve a win. But this time they do it! The fans go nuts! After roasting in the scorching hot temps they would be leaving with a victory to be proud of and smiles on their faces.

Every part of this game, from the stands to the field, was different than years past. These are not the San Diego Chargers of years past. The culture has changed. Mission accomplished and lets all hope it ends with a Super Bowl victory. The last team to hold that trophy just lost to the Chargers by 9 points!

 

Thomas Powell

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