Note: Before I begin I want to add that this is an opinion article, also known as an editorial
March 27, 2017: the day that 31 NFL owners voted to uproot the Oakland Raiders, and allow the team to find a new home in Las Vegas. Sure, for the Raiders it may be a good option. They are moving to a territory that they would not have to share with anyone except an NHL team. One thing about the business of sports is that, yes, there is a massive business aspect to it; but it is not the same as any other industry. The difference is the fans. Sure, in other industries there are consumers and customers, but that is still different than fan bases in sports.
Fans are practically owners of the teams. Most of the revenue comes from things that fans do such as buy merchandise, food, tickets, etc… Over the past two years there have been three teams that have left the cities that they have played in (some for 50-plus years) in order to go someplace with a bigger market. Now if this were a restaurant or store, it makes sense. More population equals more potential clients/customers. However these are not stores, these are teams with history. These are teams that integrate into the communities and make a personal and lasting impact on each and every fan. There is a reason that fan bases become family and it is that shared bond and experiences of being a fan of a team.
When teams move, they do not realize they are hurting both the image of the organization as well as their fans. Imagine a business that would abandon its largest stakeholder instead of trying to please said stakeholder. The company’s brand may go up in value, but what is the point of an increase of the brand if there is no loyalty to said brand?
Moving away from a large source of money based upon the “chance” that you could double the current revenue is one of the most greedy business decisions a team could make. The only thing that an increase in brand will help is the cost of selling said franchise.
The NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, and NBA are a fan run industry. The reason that the sports industry is worth several hundred billion dollars, is mostly because of the amount of fans it draws. Being a fan is more than just liking this or liking that, being a fan is being a part of a community and supporting the team by spending money on gameday and on different things with the teams logo on it.
Why in the world ruin a good thing? Teams seem to think the way to earn more money is just to move to a bigger market. Maybe they are right in the short-term because since the Chargers moved they increased the value of the brand. However, they still have to play at a stadium that is meant for soccer with a low amount of seats. So even though the brand increased and the potential is there, the teams need to win a Super Bowl to make a “fan base” in Los Angeles. However, the owner doesn’t seem to care about championships.
In short, the NFL is going to feel the repercussions. It is hard to support teams that have a history of leaving. Maybe to begin with they will see an increase because of new markets in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. However, they will not see consistent revenue from the teams. With all of the rule changes and everything else, it is soon to be the NTFL (National Touch Football League) instead of the NFL, which would piss off a major target market in sports.
To the Indoor Football League we go!!! Go Rattlers.
The Chargers looked to move back to .500 in Week 10 as they faced the Dolphins at home before heading into the Bye Week. Unfortunately, huge mistakes in key situations lead to the Miami Dolphins stealing this game away from the Chargers.
Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of another heartbreaking Chargers’ loss.
Tyrell Williams– 5 REC, 126 YDS, TD
With Travis Benjamin out with a knee injury, Tyrell Williams stepped up in a big way, as he has done pretty much all season. You have to love Tyrell’s ability to find ways to get open and his desire to learn from his mistakes. After running the wrong route and getting chewed out by Philip Rivers and Mike McCoy, Williams made up for his error the very next play with a game/momentum changing 51 yard touchdown reception. You almost wonder if Tyrell would have come this far if this team still had Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. None the less, look for Tyrell to get even better after the bye week, sans any injury setback.
Chargers Defense– No Denzel Perryman or Jatavis Brown? No problem. With those key injuries, this rag-tag defensive unit did their job in key moments in the game, especially Korey Toomer who lead the way with ten tackles and one assist. In addition, this band of misfits was able to hold the NFL’s leading rusher, Jay Ajayi, to 79 yards on 19 carries. Even if I didn’t agree with John Pagano’s play calling at key moments, you can’t blame the defense for this loss. The defense kept the Chargers in it until the end and with the upcoming bye week, this defense should get even better; getting Brown and Perryman back from injury,
Worth a mention– Trevor Williams, Melvin Ingram and Melvin Gordon.
In four games with nine penalties on one player, there comes a time where you have to rethink who is out there. It would be okay if Joe was good at his job. The truth is he’s not. In those four games he has been consistently beat at the point of attack, allowing Rivers to be sacked on multiple occasions. With the present bye week, the coaching staff needs to see that just because he is healthy, Barksdale is just not getting it done. Can they please try Chris Hairston or DJ Fluker at the right tackle position?
Offensive Line Pass Protection
In addition to Barksdale, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how bad this line was as whole. For the second week in a row, Rivers continued to find himself looking up at a blue San Diego sky. Three times last Sunday, Rivers was probably wondering if his line would ever protect him. This has been a consistent problem that can only be fixed by a short, quick passing game and running the ball far more consistently.
Philip Rivers– 23/44 326 YDs, 3 TDs, 4 INTs
After the game Rivers took all the blame for the team losing on Sunday as he should have. This team lives and dies by his success and struggles. Rivers struggled a lot on Sunday throwing four interceptions; three of which were in key points of the game. The first one of those three came off of a rare Dolphins turnover, giving the Bolts a 1st and goal at the five yard line. Rivers looked like he just wasn’t paying attention to zone defense as he threw into double coverage for an easy interception. Tough to come out of that situation with no touchdown – let alone no points at all.
The second came as the Chargers were driving down the field late in the game – trying to get in field goal range for a game winning score. Philip was baited into thinking Kiko Alonso was blitzing, As the ball was snapped, Kiko instead backs out into zone stepping in front of the first read. Tyrell Williams. and took it back for the Dolphins go ahead score. Finally, on the game sealing interception, #17 is again looking for Tyrell who wasn’t even open on the play. He forced it, instead of looking elsewhere or taking the sack and live to fight another down.With the upcoming bye week, its time for Rivers to rest up. Get Travis Benjamin back and hoping Williams gets 100% healthy he will try to get this team back into the thick of things if it’s not too late.
Situational Play Calling- Too many times this season have we seen this team get bogged down in the redzone. Why? Because we run the same predictable plays every time we get to the opponents twenty yard line or closer. Where was the screen passes? Where was the quick slants? We ran a screen to Melvin Gordon on a crucial third down and he was able to gain a ton of yards. Yet we only ran the screen again with a failed screen to Antonio Gates. Lets be realistic for a moment: Screens are for speedy and shifty players in the open field. Gates is none of those at the back-end of his career. Quick slants were one of the factors in the Chargers victory against the Tennessee Titans the previous week. Yet against Miami, the offense went away from the bread and butter.
Most of the season, the question most asked is “Why didn’t the charger run the ball (in key situations)? I’m aware Gordon was getting stuffed for most of the game, however Ayaji was also getting stopped but the Dolphins had no problem running it in twice in the red-zone. So if San Diego fired Frank Reich last year for these same issues, why does this continue to happen? The answer is Mike McCoy who seems to have some sort of say in these situations. If this is the case, Mike has to go this week. He is holding this team back from being good or great. I for one have seen enough of this McNorv experiment and its time to move on. I hope that during this time off, the “powers that be” make the right decision and let McCoy go. A change is desperately needed, although I highly doubt this organization has any guts to do it.
Worth a mention– Dwight Lowery
The shootout in Mission Valley became just another 4th quarter collapse under Mike McCoy, who has seen his team fail to close out three games in the second half in the four opportunities of 2016.
The Chargers would fall to the Saints by a score of 35-34 in a contest that they most certainly should have won.
Sunday was no different, as the Bolts carried a 13-point lead into the 4th with 6:50 to go. The Chargers would then proceed to fumble on two consecutive drives; the first by Melvin Gordon and the second by Travis Benjamin.
The real story here is coaching, which if you’re a diehard Bolts fan like I have been, you’ve watched this team your whole life.
Since the miracle season in 2013 which honestly Norv Turner himself could’ve done that, this team has fallen off the rails. McCoy is 13-20 in that span, losing too many games by one score or less than one fan can remember.
If last year didn’t set a precedent, the start to this season should. Simply put, McCoy is not getting it done at the head coaching position. It’s time to make a change before this season gets too far out of reach for these Bolts to even catch a wildcard birth.
Duds of the game:
Melvin Gordon – Yes, he had two touchdowns for fantasy owners. Hooray…. For Bolts fans, this was his worst game of the season. He was never able to get going running the ball. Though the Saints were selling out to stop the run, it is fair to say that good running backs still find a way. His biggest miscue, fumbling the ball with just under seven minutes to go in the game, is something that is just unforgivable. Just hold on to it and live to fight another down for God’s sake!
Travis Benjamin – A miserable day as a receiver: four receptions for 48 yards. His biggest blunder coming a drive right after the Melvin Gordon Fumble, as he caught the ball and carelessly fumbled it, allowing the Saints to get the ball for a go-ahead TD.
Mike “Choke” McCoy – This may seem redundant, but I will do it anyway. What halftime adjustments did you give this team? What was the message given to this team going into the 4th? Whatever it was, it didn’t work.
Mike this loss and the other two fall right at your feet. For two weeks in a row your team had a lead and two weeks in a row they have found new ways to lose it. Here’s hoping the Spanos family wakes up and gives you the ax you deserve, ensuring that I don’t have to put you as dud for the rest of the season.
Dishonorable mentions: injuries at linebacker continuing to mount, DJ Fluker and Spencer Pulley
Studs of the game:
Hunter Henry – After a costly fumble last week as the Bolts were attempting a comeback, Henry had another solid week, gaining 61 yards on four receptions, including his first touchdown as a pro.
Dontrelle Inman – After lackluster games to begin the 2016 season, Inman had the game of his life, totaling 120 yards and a TD on seven receptions. You knew going into this game that the Saints would have hard time with all of the Chargers’ offensive weapons. Have a day, though, Inman.
Craig Mager – Was it just one interception? Yes. It should’ve been a key one if not for the offensive fumbles. Mager did his job, showing up and making a play for this team when it mattered most.
Honorable mentions: Philip Rivers, Jason Verrett(way to come back, kid) and Tyrell Williams
The 2016 season has not gone as hoped in the eyes of Chargers fans all over the world. Despite a heightened amount of excitement surrounding a strong free-agency period and draft, the team has struggled to close out games, losing three games in which they should have most definitely won; the Bolts should be 4-0, to be honest, and I think you all know that.
With that in mind, do you think the Chargers can rebound from their 1-3 record and put themselves into a position to compete for a playoff spot?
Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.
The staff at boltblitz.com give their take on the Chargers week 3 matchup vs the Colts
Zak Darman: Chargers come out flat and the Colts come out guns ablazin’. Colts get a 17-10 lead going into halftime with Luck picking apart this defense for 200 first half yards and 2 Touchdowns. Philip gets one before half hooking up with Travis Benjamin. Second half starts and it is the opposite this time with the Chargers leaning on Melvin Gordon and the running game to take a lead late and the defense holds to win it. Chargers 24 Colts 20
Chris LaFurno: Last time these teams saw each other, Luck wasn’t hurt. He was good and that Colts team actually went 11-5. Chargers won that game 19-9 not allowing the Colts into the end zone once. Now they face Luck and Co. with a much improved run game and an emerging defense. I believe MG28 will get it going as early as the first drive and the Chargers won’t look back. They’ll open up a 14-0 lead and it will go score for score from there on out. I love Luck. He’s great but just doesn’t have enough help around him for this to be a trap game. Chargers are ready. Phil will go over the 300 yard mark with 3 Touchdowns. MG28 gets two Touchdowns one through the air and one on the ground. Luck will try to test Verrett often and Verrett will answer the call. 6 targets for 2 receptions for 20 yards, 2 PDs and an interception. Defense comes up with 3 turnovers. Chargers win 35-20
Laura Leech: Gordon has another strong game with a touchdown. Benjamin with 2. Hunter Henry gets his first. Colts keep it close but an interception seals the deal for the Chargers in a nail biter. 31-24 Chargers
Cheryl White: Defense harasses Luck & Co. all day. Verrett blankets Hilton so Luck really can’t get the ball to him. Defense gets at least 2 INT’s, M28 gets two TD’S, Philip surpasses 300 yds this week with 3 TD’S and zero INT’S.. #GoBolts 38-14 Chargers
Chris Hoke: The chargers and Indy trade points for most of the game leading to a game winning field goal by Josh Lambo 27-24 bolts
Mike Pisciotta: Despite McNorv’s inability to rally the team to play a 60 minute game, Philip Rivers and the offense take advantage of Indy’s depleted secondary to win. Melvin Gordon runs for a buck again and a score, Travis Benjamin hauls in two Rivers’ TD passes and Dexter McCluster runs the first kick off back for a score for the Chargers since 1857. Bolts win 31-17
Will McCafferty: I really wanted to predict 41 for the Bolts but I can too easily see McCoy’s sphincter tightening in the fourth quarter once more. He just can’t help himself. The Colts have been getting killed on the ground and no reason to believe that trend shouldn’t continue. Look for Gordon to have another big day….unless he gets pulled in the fourth. The Chargers will dominate the time of preseason, as well as the scoreboard. 31-24 Chargers
Greg Williams: The offense keeps rolling and the defense continues to force turnovers and get good pressure on the quarterback. Keep an eye out for Hunter Henry, who will record his first pro touchdown subbing in for an ailing Antonio Gates. 30-14 Chargers
Bolt fans, put your prediction down below in the comment section.
Thanks for Reading
On Monday another crushing blow to the Chargers 2016 campaign occurred when it was announced that Danny Woodhead would be lost for the season. Compounded with the loss of Keenan Allen last week, a huge void has been created in this offense.
Enter Dexter McCluster who the Chargers wasted no time finding as a solid replacement for Danny. Formerly with the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, he is a capable and dangerous weapon who could be the best in-season pickup the Chargers have had in a long time.
Dare I say this – McCluster may be a better weapon for Rivers then Woodhead was. That’s only if McCluster has the same speed and shiftiness he had in KC/Tenn. The best part of this signing is Dexter knows Whisenhunt’s offense since he played for him in Tennessee. McCluster should easily be a situational player who has the versatility to make an impact in the running game, passing game and a return specialist. The Bolts haven’t had this kinda flexibility since the days of Darren Sproles.
To some, there might be some concern as to why he was on the free agent market. In Tennessee, he was third on the depth chart behind DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and thus he was released on September 2nd. A tryout with the New York Jets and 18 days later, the Chargers timing seems fortuitous as they inked him right away.
With his adaptability to fit into any role, it is anyone’s guess as to how McCoy will utilize the 28-year-old. Clearly he has huge shoes to fill in replacing a player like Woodhead, but perhaps with the right coaching staff and supporting cast, his career and usefulness could get a major jump. So far in his career, since being drafted by Kansas City out of Mississippi, he has not been “the guy” to build a team around. However, he appears to be a self-aware player who believes he can make an impact in any role he is given. All he needs is open space and the rock in order to showcase his speed and elusiveness.
If you’re not familiar with Dexter, here’s some highlights of his years with KC and his last year with the Titans. Enjoy!
Thanks for the read
To begin, I will start with a lyric from Metallica, this comes from their song, Wherever I May Roam, “I adapt to the unknown/Under wandering stars I’ve grown/By myself but not alone/I ask no one/ And my ties are severed clean/The less I have the more I gain/Off the beaten path I reign.” The reason I use this particular lyric is not only because it is a great song, but also because it perfectly encompasses the feeling of being a San Diego Chargers fan in enemy territory, Arizona.
Although the Cardinals and Chargers are not division rivals, there is still the unspoken Arizona versus California rivalry that gets created because of all of the people who have moved between the two states.
The unknown, refers to the feeling of whenever I wear my Chargers jersey to the University of Phoenix Stadium. I am highly uncertain of the reactions that will be thrown my way. Some may approach and try to have a healthy conversation where we discuss sports and whatever is going on with each others teams, such as, Philip Rivers or Larry Fitzgerald.
Others do the uneducated and frankly stupid thing many sports fans on social media are guilty. They utter the short, dastardly and annoying phrase, “Your team sucks!” Now that is all well and good…… If they can back it up. Most times, they are too drunk to remember why they stated that in the first place so it is kinda funny to ask why and watch them stumble on their words.
The wandering stars refers to the fact that I have lived in Arizona my entire life. So how did I become a Chargers fan you ask? It’s kind of a dumb story but I have never looked back since. When I was younger, my family would often vacation to the San Diego area and there was one time I can remember, we were at the convenience store on the southwest corner of Shelter Island Drive and Scott street. Me being my curious young self I picked up a koozie with a Chargers lightning bolt on it. When I got back I turned on the Madden game I had at the time, and I have grown more and more in my fanhood each year since. That was around…… 14-15 years ago.
By myself but not alone, refers to the surprisingly large presence of Chargers fans that inhabit the metro-Phoenix area that I call home.
The less I have the more I gain, off the beaten path I reign, refers to the ability that I was able to find within myself being the only Chargers fan at my school. When I realized it was actually a huge advantage to have a team not in the state of Arizona. Also, to me any team that does not have a Super Bowl ring from after the AFL-NFL merger is off the beaten path.
A lot of sports fans will gravitate to teams like the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their loyalty is purely based upon the fact that they have a pull safe that they can use if they are ever in a sports argument. That pull safe is “Well, we have rings.” It is a luxury a fan of those teams can use without ever watching a football game.
This is what makes the San Diego Chargers fan base so strong. It’s called faith. Similar to the Chicago Cubs, all we are able to do is look forward to the future rather than living our lives in the past. That is what we will do this season. We will charge forward, not just on the field, but off the field. In the stands we will charge forward. Why? It is because that is what our team needs, and also because of the community it builds.
Bolt Up Charger Brigade.
It is no secret that San Diego is a bandwagon sports town. When regular season home games look more like away games; from the sea of orange that we witness whenever we play the Denver Broncos in recent years, or the black hole that gets created whenever the Oakland Raiders come to town. The stadium is too easily overrun on gamedays, which is something that needs to change, and Chargers fans can actually control whether or not this occurs.
However, that argument is for another time. The reason I bring it up now, is because it will draw attention and hopefully make people realize that the Chargers cannot just rely on Chargers fans to come out for the needed 50% plus one vote in November unless we are doing well on the field.
What the Chargers organization must do is be able to showcase all that the new stadium would be able to do. They also must partner with local San Diego hot spots and events in order to draw a wider range of voters in to the new idea. For example: promotions through the Broken Yolk Cafe, Hodad’s, the San Diego Padres, Sea World and last, but certainly not least, Comic-Con promoters.
It is hard to convince someone who may just be a casual football fan to give their vote to a team who in the last two seasons has not finished higher than third in their division.
So, if the Chargers organization can promote the stadium before the ballots are cast, as not just a place to play football, but a place in which economic growth is a guaranteed reality, then, clearly, it would entice even those residents in San Diego who are not fans of the Chargers.
In recent memory, Comic-Con is one of the biggest events in San Diego’s history. If they are able to establish a museum that would guarantee tourists more than one week a year, that would prove to be a sustainable, year-round revenue. Not to mention, the jobs that would be created for future San Diegans would increase exponentially due to the number of non-football events that would take place throughout the year.
The stadium plan will fail if the Chargers rely on just Chargers fans in the area to come out and vote. The only way this will work is if the Chargers organization is able to use all of these other organizations, and ways of promoting the non-football benefits to the city. Should the Chargers be able to put together a viable, convincing stadium plan, it should be a slam dunk.
Although the doubters, even fans of the team, may come out in droves, stating they are not going to get behind a stadium plan keeping the Chargers in San Diego, it is up to all of the educated fans to do their due diligence in ensuring said doubters regarding all of the opportunities which would lie ahead should a stadium be granted to the NFL team which currently resides in America’s finest city.
For more information regarding the stadium situation, please keep in locked on BoltBLitz.com for all of the news you need to know.
Over a month ago the San Diego Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa with their third overall pick. Along with Bosa the Chargers drafted two more defensive players. One of them was Bosa’s running mate at Ohio State, Joshua Perry. These look to be great additions combined with the free agent signings of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and safety Dwight Lowery.
Some Chargers fans are clamoring for the Chargers to switch defensive schemes. I’ll tell you why this can not and will not happen anytime soon. First, I’ll tell you the difference between the two schemes. For the purpose of this piece it will just be a base 3-4 scheme versus the base 4-3 scheme. After this I will give my opinion on why switching schemes wouldn’t be beneficial for the Bolts moving forward.
I’ve stated in a previous article (Bolt Up For Bosa) that the Chargers only run their base scheme about 50% of defensive snaps. It’s these 50% of snaps I will be focusing on. That being said what is a 3-4 defense? It has been used famously by Bum Phillips, the father of Wade Phillips.
Used by the Houston Oilers in the 70’s, it’s predicated on pressure by overwhelming the offensive line with multiple attacking defensive players. If used correctly this scheme can be virtually unstoppable. This was defensive scheme used most brilliantly by the Denver Broncos to defeat the Carolina Panthers in this past years’ Super Bowl.
The 3-4 was the staple of Dick LeBeau’s defense which helped drive multiple teams to Super Bowl appearances. Lebeaus’ defense has yielded two wins and four losses in the Super Bowl. In New England, the 3-4 has been the driving force behind the Patriots dynasty. Yes, Tom Brady has made his throws but its been the defense that’s given the Patriots four Super Bowl titles in 15 years.
Breaking it down the 3-4 consists of three down linemen and four linebackers. The four linebackers have endless possibilities on how they can be placed. There’s a multitude of packages to utilize. This makes the 3-4 a hard defense to plan against. With four linebackers you don’t know who is blitzing or who is dropping back in coverage. The point of a 3-4 defense is mismatches. It’s built to stop the run and apply endless amount of pressure on the opposing teams’ offensive line. In theory, the Chargers should be good at run-stopping although this has been the Achilles’ heel of the defense over the past several years.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 3-4 defense.
So how will the Chargers look defensively? Let’s start with the defensive line. At left defensive end will be Corey Liuget. Anchoring the middle will be nose tackle Brandon Mebane. At right defensive end will be Joey Bosa. At weak side outside linebacker will be Jerry Attaochu. The inside linebacker will be Manti Te’o. The middle linebacker will be Denzel Perrymen. The strong side linebacker will be Melvin Ingram.
Anchoring the back end of the defense from left to right will be left cornerback Jason Verrett. At Free Safety will be Dwight Lowery. Next to him will be strong safety Jahleel Addae. The right cornerback will be Brandon Flowers. Keep in mind this is how it stands right now. A lot depends on training camp and if the Chargers sign other free agents.
So now know how the Chargers will run their basic 3-4 defense. What is a 4-3 defense? The base 4-3 first came to us under Tom Landry when he was the Giants defensive coordinator in the 1950’s. He then made it even more famous with the Dallas Cowboys and through their vaunted “Doomsday” defense. Ever since, there’s been multiple variations of the scheme from the Bill Parcells stack defense to the Wide-9 defense famously used by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On to the basis of the 4-3. It’s four down linemen and three linebackers. In its most basic form the four down linemen will always have their hands in the ground and be in pursuit of whomever has the ball. The three linebackers are in charge of coverage in this base defense although they may blitz in certain packages.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 4-3 defense.
The Chargers run a variation of the 4-3 in a hybrid nickel package. The nickel package features Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu with their hands in the dirt. The 3-4 defense has been implemented since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach. Since then the Chargers have had a few dominant defenses in ’06, ’07, ’09 and 2010. Its been proven very effective when the right pieces are in place. In 2016 this is such the case. My main reason for this belief is Joey Bosa and the signing of cornerback Casey Hayward. The Hayward addition was an amazing pick up.
It’s all about the anchor of the 3-4, the nose tackle. A viable anchor is something the Chargers have lacked for so long. Since the days of Jamal Williams its been a revolving door at this position. Brandon Mebane probably didn’t make headlines to the casual Chargers fan. I believe this is the most underrated pickup of the whole offseason. Mebane can garner double- and sometimes even triple-teams.
This defense, hell, this whole team is going too shock a lot of people. As I said earlier the 3-4 requires almost pure selflessness from its three down linemen. It starts with Mebane. I may call him Bane by seasons’ end. If you know Batman then you understand the reference. Its been five years in the making with this defense. Why change philosophies now when this defense is so close to grasping greatness? Its proven to be a dominant defense in the past. It can and will be for years to come.
My girlfriend, Megan, and I had the opportunity to travel to Canton, Ohio and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame and attend the Class of 2015 Enshrinement Ceremony last year. Personally, I was excited to attend as a diehard Charger fan and show support of Junior Seau, who was to be enshrined that day.
Another player to be inducted that day was Steelers halfback, Jerome Bettis, evidenced by the foam school buses on many people’s heads. Canton, Ohio is only about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Needless to say there were Steelers fans everywhere. Some of them complimented us on coming so far to support Junior, saying he was a great player, or said it was sad he had left us so soon. The respect Steelers Nation showed to him and to us will be with me for a long time.
We eventually met a group of Seau fans from Oceanside, Junior’s hometown. We talked about our favorite memories of Junior and took pictures together. A great moment was shared when the group was asked to cheer in front of the Hall of Fame for the NFL Network broadcast, all in our Charger gear.
The day of the Enshrinement Ceremony is the busiest day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, something to keep in mind if you are ever planning to visit. The line to enter the Hall of Fame Gallery, where the bronze busts of each inductee are on display, was very long. We were told by an employee that they couldn’t guarantee we would get in to see the busts because they were closing the museum early so the Packers and Vikings players could have a private tour before the Hall of Fame Game the next day.
We risked it, and about two hours later, made it in to see the great Charger players already enshrined: Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts, Sid Gillman, Charlie Joiner, Ron Mix, Kellen Winslow and Fred Dean. Junior’s bust would be revealed to the whole world in a few short hours. It was worth the wait.
Soon it was time to leave the Hall of Fame and enter Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium next door. It’s a 22,000 seat, outdoor football venue, perfect for the Enshrinement Ceremony. The Hall of Fame stadium plays host to many high school and college football games during their seasons as well as the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, and Hall of Fame Games, played the the day after the ceremony to kick off the NFL preseason each year.
We made it to our seats and I started to reflect. I thought about Junior as his transcendent smile would flash on the jumbotron every few minutes. The jumbotron started to show career highlights of the other members of the Class of 2015. When Bettis’ highlights came on about 20,000 Terrible Towels would go up in the air accompanied by loud cheers and chants. Ironically, many of Junior’s highlights were of him tackling The Bus in the backfield for a loss, effectively quieting the crowd, if only for a moment.
It was finally time for Junior’s bust to be revealed. Master of Ceremonies, Chris Berman, introduced a short tribute video to Junior. Next, Junior’s children were allowed on stage to reveal his bust to the world. Due to a controversial NFL policy on posthumous inductions, none were allowed to speak. Junior’s daughter, Sydney, was then taken off stage and interviewed by an NFL Network reporter. Despite the NFL-induced oddity of the whole situation, Sydney spoke with the poise, bravery and the heart of a true champion. The emotion permeated all in attendance.
During her interview, I thought about Junior’s career with the Chargers, his legend, what he meant to the fans and to the City of San Diego. I thought about what he still means to us all. Men who give their hearts and souls to their community, never truly leave us. They live on in all of us, in our memories, in what we say and do every day.
San Diego had lost it’s two favorite sons, Junior and then Tony Gwynn. At the time of this ceremony it was all but certain, we would lose the Chargers as well. For me, that’s when the tears came. At some point I looked up to the sky and imagined Junior and Tony, shoulder to shoulder, smiling down on us.
This experience has given me the determination to follow the exceptional example set by these two great San Diego men; to do what I can to make my community a better place. I won’t be able to be the best player on the field, or donate millions to local charities, but I can treat everyone I meet with respect and love, as these two did. I can take the time to educate people on the downtown stadium proposal, or at the very least, talk with them about it. I think that’s what Junior would have wanted. If we all do a mere fraction of what these two men did over their lives, we can make this town a better place, maybe even keep our beloved Bolts!
Thanks for reading!
In this time of worry over the location of the 2016 Chargers, it is nice to see that some Bolt fans remain loyal to the team no matter what. Allow me to introduce John P. Schell. John and I have been friends since the ‘70s and despite traveling the world with the United States Army and finally settling down in Minnesota, his loyalty to the boys in blue and gold remains strong. We will start off with a brief bio of John followed by some questions and answers designed to help you get to know him better.
Will: Okay John, give me a brief background of who you are and your life experiences.
John: My personal goal in life is to be a better person than I was the day before. As a husband, father, son, uncle and friend to others, loyalty and leadership describes my personality when working, playing, or just hanging out with people. I had the privilege to serve in the U.S Army for 10 years as an Armor Crewman on the M60 and M1 series main battle tanks. If you saw the movie Fury with Brad Pitt, being a Tanker was the ‘best job I ever had”!
Will: Do you, or have you ever lived in San Diego?
John: I was born and raised in San Diego (Clairemont Rules!) in the late 60’s, 70’s, and half of the 80’s. After finishing my military commitment, I returned to San Diego for my post High School education, achieving my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and off I went into the business world and never looked back.
Will: Now that you live in Minnesota, how hard is it to find fellow Chargers fans? Are there any Chargers sports bars nearby?
John: In 2003, I had a great promotional and career changing opportunity with my company to live and work in the state of Minnesota. All I knew about Minnesota at that time was cold, snow, Vikings, Twins, and Prince. I accepted the challenge and moved my family to the Frozen Tundra in 2003. After 12 full winters (I count winters, not years here) in the beautiful state of Minnesota, it was a great decision all around. I miss my friends, authentic Mexican food, yes the warm weather after sub-zero degree weeks in December/January, but I mostly miss my Chargers on Sundays during the NFL season. I’ve searched all over the twin cities for Charger backers, clubs, bars, and fan clubs, but to no avail. When I wear my bolt (which is all year long) out in public, many Minnesotans say; “I like the Chargers, especially when they had Fouts, JJ, Winslow, Joiner, Chandler, and Muncie. Your team song San Diego Super Chargers is catchy as well.” Minnesota is an NFC town, so I have yet to hear any Charger haters, which is awesome!
Will: As for being in the military; First of all, thank you for your service. Second, did you have any other Chargers fans stationed with you? How much opportunity was there to keep up with the NFL?
John: Yes, my Army buddy was from Chula Vista. We met on the plane from San Diego on our way to Ft. Knox, KY for basic training. He is a diehard Bolt fan, and we drove all the other soldiers crazy when we saw them on TV or heard we won. I think we may have roughed up a few Raider, Chief, and Bronco fans along the way as we had to represent our Bolts! When stationed at Ft. Knox during the 85′ and 86′ seasons, finding the Charger game on TV was difficult being that these were two poor seasons (8-8 and 4-12 respectively) and the Chargers wouldn’t be the national game televised on Sunday. Had to wait for the halftime highlights to get updates (no internet, no smart phones, no satellite TV then). Overseas in Germany, it was pretty much the same with no visibility to watch the Chargers on the Armed Forces Network. My brother taped some of the games and I’d watch them on my $500 VCR a few weeks later when they arrived in the mail. Always loved seeing the shots of Charger fans with all the blue and gold in the stands and hearing the loud cheers.
Will: How long have you been a Chargers fan?
John: I have to say 1974 was the year I became a Charger fan for life. The names I’ll never forget were Jessie Freitas, Dan Fouts, Don Woods, Bo Matthews, Gary “The Ghost” Garrison, and Ray Wersching kicking field goals.
Over the next few years while in elementary school, the Chargers would send a player to come speak to us for an assembly (I remember Carl Mauck/Center talking to the kids and giving away a team photo). I also remember when we did have rainy days in San Diego during school; we would watch Charger highlight films instead of playing outside. That was fun! In my little league baseball days, Charger linebacker Ray Preston was a coach for one of the teams. What a treat that was to have a professional NFL football player from the San Diego Chargers helping out as a coach for that year.
((Will, this has to hit home for you too.))
Will: What was your most painful memory as a Bolt fan?
John: That’s simple for me. 2006 season, 14-2, No. 1 seed in the playoffs with home field advantage, divisional playoff game vs. the Patriots. We lost 24-21 and I was depressed for a long time. Still hurts, just not as much.
Will: What was your favorite moment?
I was very fortunate to be invited to the 1980 playoff game between the Bills and Chargers. First game I ever went to, and it was special. Great game up to the final minutes when Dan Fouts hits Ron Smith for a 50 yard touchdown pass to win the game. The crowd was electric and the feeling was unforgettable that game!
Will: Do you collect Chargers gear or memorabilia? If so, what is your prize possession?
John: The same brother that sent me Charger game tapes when I was in Germany gave to me an autographed authentic Junior Seau San Diego Charger helmet that sits next me at my desk. By the way, my brother worked at Seau’s the restaurant in the 90’s and really got to know Junior. My brother introduced Junior to me at his restaurant and it was amazing to spend a few minutes with him sharing his stories about San Diego. Great memory!
Will: Who is your favorite current Chargers player? How about all-time?
John: Favorite current Charger is Antonio Gates. He just gets the job done, he’s tough, all about the team, and seems to be a respectful man off the field.
All-time favorite Charger(s) is not one person, but a group. I loved the late 70’s defensive line known as the Bruise Brothers consisting of: “Big” Louie Kelcher, “Mean” Fred Dean, Gary “Big Hands” Johnson, and Leroy Jones. They were a unit that performed so well and excited Charger fans with their teamwork.
Will: Who is your pick for the best Chargers quarterback of all-time? Why?
John: No doubt, Dan Fouts. He showed leadership, skill, results, heart, winning, making others better and most of all his toughness. We all remember the severe hits he took, bloody noses, limping around on bad knees, yet he always showed up and competed with one purpose, to WIN!
Will: What position(s) do you feel needs to step up in 2015 in order for the Chargers to be true contenders?
John: Offensive Line needs to step up. Replacing Nick Hardwick is huge. O-Line needs to protect Philip and open the holes for the RB’s.
Will: How do you feel about the possible move to LA/Carson? Will you still be a fan?
John: I don’t even like the thought of this move happening. It would hurt all of us loyal Charger fans and the city of San Diego in a huge way. Yes, I’d still root for my Chargers just as I do for the Clippers and Rockets in the NBA who moved out of San Diego.
I’d like to thank John P. Schell for his service to our country, for taking the time to answer my questions and for his undying support of the San Diego Chargers. If you have any comments or questions for John or myself, please leave them below.