Monthly Archives: January 2015
Don Coryell coached his last NFL game 29 years ago. Needless to say, he has been eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for over two decades. Yet, he has no bust in Canton, Ohio. Tonight, perhaps, that could change.
It should change.
Known as one of the most innovative offensive minds in the history of the league, you still see so much of what he created in today’s game. The NFL, without a doubt, is primarily a passing league. Many teams feature spread formations which focus on the vertical passing game. These concepts were brought about by Coryell.
After putting the San Diego State Aztecs on the college football map, Coryell moved on to coach the St. Louis Cardinals. He turned around that franchise prior to making his way to America’s finest city to take on the head coaching job for the Bolts.
Despite never coaching the Chargers to the Super bowl, the “Air Coryell” offense was tops in the league for 5 consecutive years in the passing game from 1979-1983. After a one year “break”, the 1985 passing offense return to the top of the NFL charts.
While most teams empowered a two-back set during his era, Coryell preferred lining up one ball carrier. He believed in employing an athletic tight end that could work the seam vertically. Regardless of the down and distance, he was always in favor of his quarterback dropping back to pass and slinging it down the field; it was encouraged on third and short, as well.
The covering defenders in today’s NFL are not allowed to breathe on receivers. Pass interference and defensive holding calls happen early, often and have actually helped win some games, to a degree. That was not the case while Coryell was coaching. Defenders could mug wideouts and they were coached to do just that. The offensive innovator decided that placing his offensive skill position players in motion could help counteract that by making it easier for them to get off the line of scrimmage. This also enabled quarterback Dan Fouts to establish whether or not the defense was in man or zone coverage.
The coaching tree that was spawned from the teachings of Coryell includes the likes of John Madden, Joe Gibbs, and many others. Both Madden and Gibbs are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Don Coryell was far ahead of his time. Every single NFL game you watch includes some form of his imaginative air passing attack. He was quoted as saying, ” I gave my life to football”. It is now time for football to give back to him.
Here’s to hoping the man who belongs with his apprentices is finally awarded with what he earned.
Thanks for reading.
Twenty years have gone by since our beloved Chargers played in their one and only Super Bowl. Let that sink in….20 years. Where were you on January 29th, 1995? Were you born yet? Were you entering middle school? Or were you old enough to be overcome with awesome disbelief as you watched your Cinderella Chargers defeat Miami and Pittsburgh in order to play in their first ever Super Bowl?
Many of you that are old enough to remember know exactly where you were and who you were with when you sat down to watch Super Bowl XXIX. San Diego was not expected to enter the playoffs let alone play in the NFL title game during the 1994 season; a solid 9-7 was what most “experts” expected out of America’s finest city.
Now that I have you going back in time, do you wonder what those players from the ‘94 season are up to? Let’s take a look at a few players on this special team that defied all odds.
Head Coach – Bobby Ross came to San Diego in 1992 after taking the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to an 11-0-1 record and winning the ACC Championship. Coach Ross would lead the Bolts to three playoffs, two division titles and one illustrious Super Bowl during his 5 years. After his departure, Ross went on to coach the Detroit Lions for 4 year before retiring. After four years of retirement, with the encouragement of his wife, he came back from retirement to coach Army’s football team. Three years later he retired again and has not coached since 2006. He currently resides where he was born 78 years ago – in Richmond, VA. He is active in his community and speaks often at schools and banquets.
Offensive Coordinator – Ralph Friedgen was 47 when he was the OC for San Diego. Prior to the NFL, he was the OC for Georgia Tech under Bobby Ross and both left the college game in 1992. In 1996 Coach Friedgen was released and went back to Georgia Tech where he was the OC for four years. He then moved on to be the Head Coach for the Maryland Terps for 10 years. Last season, Ralph moved on to Rutgers University where he is currently the OC.
Defensive Coordinator – Bill Arnsparger, 88 years of age, coached for many years in the NFL. After leaving the Dolphins in 1983, he became the Head Coach at LSU until he left in 1986 to become the AD at the University of Florida. Bill walked into major issues in Florida where both the football and basketball programs were put on probation. He was able to come out of that mess by hiring Steve Spurrier to coach the Gator football program. Coach Arnsparger became the DC for San Diego the same year as Ross and Friedgen, 1992. Shortly after the Super Bowl loss, Coach Arnsparger retired for good, stating it had to do with the prostate cancer surgery he had the previous year. In 1998 his book “Coaching Defensive Football” was published where it received good reviews from readers.
Quarterback – Stan Humphries Is known for leading our Bolts to the first ever Super Bowl in franchise history. In 1992 he is lead the Chargers to their first playoff appearance in over a decade, while starting 0-4 to begin the season – currently the only NFL team to ever start 0-4 and make the playoffs. Stan was inducted to the San Diego Chargers Hall Of Fame in 2002. Currently Stan, at the age of 49, is the assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at his alma mater University of Louisiana of Monroe. He has been coaching women’s basketball going on 12 years and was brought to ULM last season.
Running back – Natrone Means had his best year in the NFL with San Diego in 1994. He ran for 1,350 yards with 12 touchdowns and at the time, became the youngest NFL running back to score a TD in a Super Bowl. Means was released before the 1996 season where he then landed in Jacksonville for two seasons. As an unrestricted free agent, Natrone was back in America’s finest city where he played for two more seasons. In 2000 he did sign with Carolina, however he did not have one rush attempt and retired after the season. He coached at Livingston College, first as a Running Backs Coach and then as the Offensive Coordinator. Natrone, 42, currently is the Running Backs coach for Winston-Salem State University and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Wide Receiver – Mark Seay’s story is one of tragedy, inspiration and fortitude. Before playing college football in 1988, he attended his sister’s Halloween party where gun shots were fired outside the home. When he heard the gunfire, he quickly used his body to shield his 2 yr old niece; subsequently a bullet hit him through the pelvis, hip and lung and blowing out one of his kidneys. The bullet was on its way to his heart but it stopped prior, and remains in his body to this day. After filing a lawsuit when Cal State Long Beach refused to bring him on the team, CSLB coach George Allen was able to bring him on board while appeasing everyone with Mark wearing extra protection and taking a urine test after each game. Mark came to San Diego from San Francisco in 1993. His most memorable play was the game winning catch against Miami in the 1994 AFC Divisional playoff game. Mark only played 3 more years in the NFL after the Super Bowl run, one with the Chargers and two with the Eagles, ending his NFL career after the 1997 season. In 2003, Mark’s older brother was shot in San Bernardino, later passing away after being in an 11-month coma. In 2006 his younger brother was shot to death in the family’s backyard by two assailants – this happened while Mark was in the middle of a 48 week police academy course. He currently tours the country as a motivational speaker. Here is a video:
Wide Receiver – Tony Martin played four seasons in Miami before making the cross-country trip to San Diego in 1994. Tony was the main target of Stan Humphries and even recorded a 99 yard touchdown reception. Martin caught 9 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the ‘94 playoff games. Tony played 3 more seasons with the Chargers as the #1 WR until he left for Atlanta in 1998. Tony was charged with money laundering after his Falcons lost in the Super Bowl. He was later acquitted while under contract with the team that drafted him, the Miami Dolphins, where he played two more seasons before heading back to Atlanta for his final NFL season in 2001. There is not much information on Tony and his life after football.
Tight End – Alfred Pupunu played with the Chargers from ‘92-97 before he went to Kansas City, NY Giants, back with San Diego and finishing his career with Detroit in 2000. Although he didn’t score many touchdown in his career, albeit he scored against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game, his famous dance after those scores was a famous one. After a brief time being a volunteer assistant with the University of Utah from 2005-2007, he then became the RB/TE coach for Southern Utah University. Since 2010, he has been on the coaching staff for the University of Idaho.
Kicker – John Carney played in the NFL for 23 years on teams of Tampa Bay, LA Rams, San Diego, New Orleans, Kansas City, NY Giants and ending his career back in New Orleans. Currently he still owns the Chargers record for all time leading scorer. John currently runs a pre-season kicking training camp called “The Launching Pad.”
Inside linebacker – Dennis Gibson played 7 seasons with Detroit before coming to San Diego for 2 season before retiring. Of course Charger historians will know his name for the 4th down pass deflection in the AFC Championship game against Pittsburgh that sent San Diego to it’s first Super Bowl. Currently, Dennis owns and operates Encore Pizza Company out of Johnston, Iowa; a suburb of De Moines.
Defensive End – Leslie O’Neil played a long career in the NFL from 1986-1999. Leslie was the first Charger to ever be bestowed with the Defensive Rookie Player of the Year in 1986. His career accolades include 6 Pro Bowls, leading the Chargers in sacks from 1990-1995 and is currently tied for 11th in career sacks with 132.5. He was inducted into the San Diego Chargers HOF in 2014, but has not yet been voted into Canton
There have been 8 players from this 1994 squad whom have passed away tragically and far too young, in this writer’s opinion.
David Griggs – Linebacker
David played 6 seasons, five with Miami and one with San Diego. Five months after playing in the Super Bowl as a Charger, he died in a fatal car accident when his car slid off the ramp on the Florida Turnpike near Fort Lauderdale – he was 28 years of age.
Rodney Culver – Running back
Rodney didn’t carry the ball much during the Super Bowl run but made an appearance with the holdout and injury to Natrone Means in 1995. After that season, in May of 1996, he and his wife boarded ValueJet Flight 592 which crashed into the Florida Everglades killing every passenger – he was 26 years of age.
Doug Miller – Linebacker
Doug was a member of the Charger for two seasons; recording no stats. He was struck by lightning twice during a camping trip in Colorado in July of 1998 – he was 29 years old.
Curtis Whitley – Center
Curtis played in 30 games from 1992-1994 with San Diego. After which he played in 42 games for the Panthers from 1995-1997. A day after his birthday in May of 2008, local Sheriff deputies located Whitley dead from a drug overdose in his trailer home in Fort Stockton, TX. – he was 39 years of age.
Chris Mims – Defensive End
Chris was drafted in the first round by the Chargers in 1992 where he played until 1996. After a short stint with Washington, he returned to San Diego for two more seasons. His best season was in 1994 where he recorded 11 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 35 tackles. In October of 2008, Los Angeles Police officers were doing a welfare check on Chris when they found him dead. The cause of death was cardiac arrest as his heart was enlarged. At the time of death, Chris weighed 456 pounds – he was 38 years young
Shawn Lee – Left Defensive Tackle
Shawn played his first four years in the NFL with Tampa Bay and Miami. He came to San Diego in 1992 and played through the 1997 season. During the SB run, he recorded 6.5 sacks with 30 tackles and one forced fumble. The last few years of his life, Shawn was struggling with diabetes. In February of 2011, after suffering through double pneumonia, he died from a cardiac arrest – he was 44 years old.
Lewis Bush – LInebacker
Lewis was drafted by San Diego in the fourth round of the 1993 draft. He played for the Chargers from ‘93-99 and then ended his career with three season in Kansas City. Lewis recorded 3 tackles during the SB run. As he began to start in more games beginning in 1995, he showed a big improvement. In December of 2011, less than a week after his birthday, he was found dead of heart attack – he was 42 years old.
Junior Seau – Linebacker
Junior is probably one of the best players to ever put on a San Diego Charger uniform. There is much I can say about this remarkable man and football player. His intensity, leadership and drive to make everyone around him better on and off the field, just tips the iceberg on this Hall of Fame player. In May of 2012, his girlfriend found him in his home with a fatal gunshot wound to the chest – he was 43 years old.
Well I hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane with me. During this writing, I was overcome with excitement and then overshadowed with sad emotions. What a team……what a ride.
Thanks for reading.
There are several, “hot button”, issues concerning the Chargers right now. How can San Diego get a stadium built? What should they do with all of the cap money they have to spend? Can Philip Rivers take them to the Promised Land? Should they emphasize offense or defense in the draft? Those are all great debates, but the hottest topic right now is whether or not the Chargers should re-sign running back Ryan Mathews. The reason I call this the hottest topic is because it brings out the most emotion from Chargers fans. Yes, Ryan Mathews has become a polarizing figure within the Chargers fan base.
As usual, my opinion on this matter waffles from day to day. On any given day, I can argue for and against the signing of Mathews for 2015. On Wednesday, I’m totally convinced that it would be a mistake to let such a talented player go, especially after trading up to get him! Then on Thursday I’m ready to kick him to the curb and search out the next in a long line of talented Chargers running backs. I guess it is time I wrote all of this down and decided what side of the fence I am on. I wonder which side I’ll end up on. Let’s find out!
Let’s start out positive about number 24. Mathews was drafted number 12 of the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. AJ Smith, the Chargers GM (who could forget him?) traded up to make sure that he got Mathews, despite many believing that he would be available for the Chargers when their pick came up. Right away, Mathews was thrust into a nearly impossible situation—Replace LaDainian Tomlinson. In fact, Tomlinson was Mathews’ hero growing up. He even wore LT’s number in college and tried to adopt a similar running style and appearance. The problem was that no one could replace Tomlinson in Chargers fans eyes.
His first couple of years were inconsistent, to say the least. He battled injuries that held him out of six games and he also battled a terrible disease called, “fumbleitis”. Yes, he coughed the ball up nine times in his first two years, losing four. Those four lost fumbles equaled the total that Tomlinson had in his first two years, but in all fairness to the future Hall of Famer, LT had greater than 300 more carries over the same period of time. That being said, Mathews did show some brilliance during those years and managed to break the 1000 yard mark in just his second year in the league, despite missing two games, and averaged just less than 4.7 yards per carry. Not too shabby.
Year three did not work out as he battled injuries and missed four more complete games and several partial games. Only averaging 3.3 yards per carry in year three was not impressive but at least he was able to hold on to the football, only fumbling twice.
Fortunately, Mathews bounced back in 2013 and managed to play in every regular season game for the first time in his career. He took advantage on his mostly healthy body and racked up over 1200 yards and only gave the ball away one time! I think it’s safe to say that Mathews can now be trusted to tote the rock without laying it on the ground. Unfortunately, many Chargers fans will not let him live down his fumbling problem of the past.
2014 was a big year for Mathews. Although he played in every regular season game the year before, he did manage to miss the Denver game in the post-season. That was very disappointing. Carrying on the disappointment was the fact that Mathews only played in six games and carried the ball just 74 times. Most players turn their contract year into a human highlight film; not Mathews. Although he ran hard when he was in there and started to make fans believe that the Chargers could run the ball despite a lack-luster offensive line. The problem was you never knew when he could go and when he could not. One minute he was breaking a nice run, the next he vanished. Fans frequently had to ask during games, “What happened to Mathews? Is he hurt again?” Ryan Mathews is the one Chargers player who I keep watching after the play is over. Is he limping? Is he slumped over or favoring one side of his body? It seemed every time he carried the ball, fans must hold their breath and pray that he was going to be available for the next play. It’s hard to have someone as your featured back who you cannot count on to be there day in and day out. For that matter, play in or play out!
This would be an easy decision if Mathews was not talented, or if he still had his fumbling issues that he started out his career with. The fact is that he is very talented and hasn’t had a fumbling problem for several years (despite what many fans think). The fact is that he is the most talented back on the roster and if by some miracle he can get, and stay, healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with. The problem is that no one knows if he can stay healthy. It would be a shame to see him leave San Diego and then have a career year for someone else…say Oakland, Denver, or Kansas City.
No way he can stay healthy, you say? Let’s take a look at the outstanding running back of the Dallas Cowboys, DeMarco Murray. Believe it or not, their two careers have many similarities. Murray has a ton of talent, but until year four (2014) his potential was never realized due to injuries and he even had some key fumbles that worried many Dallas fans. In fact, in Murray’s first three seasons, he missed 11 games due to injury. He managed to play in all 16 games in year four (just like Mathews) and somehow managed to stay pretty healthy. He has some health issues, but managed to run through them and amass over 1800 yards on nearly 400 carries!
So, with Murray you are looking at a guy who is up for a new contract and is coming off an incredible season. Dallas has to weigh their options very closely where Murray is concerned. There is always a chance that he will turn around in year five and get hurt, just like Mathews did for the Chargers. No one knows the future so time will tell if Dallas is willing to gamble. Considering that Murray will demand top dollar for his next contract, I believe the decision Dallas has is more difficult than the one the Chargers face with Mathews.
That brings up another point – Salary. How much will Ryan Mathews ask for as a free agent? How much will other teams be willing to offer him to leave San Diego and have a fresh start somewhere else? How much are the Chargers willing to gamble on a guy who hasn’t been physically reliable? No one knows the answer to all of these questions, but I believe my opinion of whether or not Mathews gets an offer to stay in San Diego lies within those answers.
In my humble opinion, unless the Chargers are going to go out and possibly over pay for a big time free agent, they need to make an offer to Mathews. Not a big offer. Not a long-term offer, but an offer. If he would be willing to take it, I believe the Chargers should offer Mathews a one year deal for around $1.5 to $2.5 million dollars. That would be a dramatic decrease from the $4.7 million he is currently bringing in. I would make the contract incentive laden and see if he will be motivated to earn the extra money. I would make it quite clear that if he could stay healthy and produce on the field, a long-term deal would be discussed. If he spent much of the season on the sidelines, next season would be his last in San Diego. Would he accept such a deal? Who knows? My guess is that it will depend on the other 31 NFL teams and what they offer him, if anything.
On the bright side, if the Chargers can sign Mathews to an affordable contract, they can still pick up a back in the mid rounds of the draft, or through free agency. That would free up some money to sign players to fill larger needs like offensive line, defensive line, strong safety, etc.
Well, I guess I’m making Mathews an offer (at least today I am). What would you do, if you were GM Tom Telesco?
Thanks for reading and please leave comments below. Remember, “…I’m Just Sayin’:” is an opinion and not intended to be anything more than a tool to create discussion and debate among Chargers fans.
Here in sunny Phoenix, you can’t have consecutive conversations on any subject without the Super Bowl being mentioned. For good reason, Phoenix is the center of the universe this week and the game pitting the New England Patriots versus the Seattle Seahawks has all the makings of an epic encounter.
Then again, we thought the same thing about last season’s Super Bowl…
On the first snap of last season’s big game, the ball was sailed over Peyton Manning’s head and it was all downhill from there as the almighty Denver Broncos were boat raced by the Seahawks 43-8.
Are we doomed for a repeat of last season?
Let’s check the similarities. The Seahawks are the power of the NFC, featuring (arguably) the best secondary in the game and a stout defense that keeps opponents off the scoreboard while the offense gets ahead early and forces the opposition to play out of their comfort zone. The Patriots were the top team in the AFC or, perhaps, considered 1 and 1A most of the season when you include Denver in the mix. Both teams finished with identical 12-4 records and first round byes in the playoffs. In the end, the Patriots had the edge due to a 43-21 win over the Broncos. The fact that the Patriots are the AFC representative in the Super Bowl erases all remaining doubt.
The Patriots also feature a deep and talented secondary and the best game planning staff in the league in Bill Belichick and crew. The Patriots offense, like Seattle, is not explosive by definition but they have bursts of scoring that is usually enough to put teams away.
Both teams come armed with a play making quarterback and one star complimentary player. Seattle has Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch. New England has Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Aside from those tag teams, neither offense has a player that strikes fear into the opposition. The question is which tandem will be held in check the best. Both teams have slow, plodding offenses with short rhythmic passing attacks. Neither team has a propensity to fire the ball deep down the field.
The differences are Seattle has a more creative offensive attack with Wilson running the read-option. His ability to extend plays with his legs will create problems for the Patriots. New England has faced one running quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) and no read option teams all season. The Patriots, boring style and all, do average 30 points per game to Seattle’s 24. All their offensive shortcomings are overshadowed by the ability of Brady to make the plays needed to win. Brady is in the argument of best quarterbacks of all time. New England is playing to cement their legacy while Seattle is hoping to create a legacy reminiscent of what the Patriots are doing now. Back to back Super Bowl wins over two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game will go a long way to doing so.
In the end, it boils down to can Seattle disrupt Tom Brady enough to make him average. He’s great when he has time to throw and has established a rhythm. When the pass rush forces him to slip and slide in the pocket he becomes average and prone to making mistakes. Seattle’s defense found its stride at the right time coming down the back stretch of the season as they reeled off six straight wins, allowing six points per game to the opposition. Only one team in that stretch scored more than 7 points.
For New England, the big question is can they stop Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is the most punishing runner in the league and over the course of a game defenders are less and less willing to tackle him head on. The Patriots have given up big rushing games to lesser backs this season. Moreno (132), Knile Davis (107), Chris Ivory (107), Matt Forte (114), Eddie Lacy (98) and Justin Forsett (129) in the Divisional Playoff against Baltimore. Stopping Lynch makes the read-option and play action ineffective which is the Seahawks bread and butter.
Thankfully, this game looks dead even which means we won’t be looking for something more interesting to do before halftime as was the case last year. The Seahawks will shackle Gronkowski for most of the game. He’ll find an opening for one short touchdown catch. Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor will be the unsung hero of the game. The heartbeat of Seattle’s defense, force multiple incompletions on balls headed to Gronk and without his safety net Brady will falter.
The stingy Seahawks D will force field goals instead of allowing touchdowns in the red zone. Brady will throw for a pedestrian 250 yards and two touchdowns but the pass most talked about will be of the second half pick six he threw to Earl Thomas that broke the game open. One half of the Wilson/Lynch tag team will win the MVP and the ‘Hawks will succeed in going back-to-back by a score of 30-23.
Who you got, Bolt Nation?
The Greg One
The Chargers have brought in some experience and knowledge to the coaching staff, adding former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan as the linebackers coach. He replaces Joe Barry who left San Diego to become the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins.
Nolan comes to the Bolts with a rich coaching background. Most recently, he spent the last three seasons at the defensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2012, he was able to improve the defensive from a 21st overall ranked unit to 9th in the league all while making an impressive playoff run.
The veteran coach has also spent some time with the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, and Miami Dolphins. He spent three seasons as the linebackers coach in Denver from 1989 to 1992 which he coached Simon Fletcher and Karl Mecklenburg; respectively some of the best linebackers in Denver team history. Additionally, Nolan was Denver’s defensive coordinator in 2009 when Mike McCoy was offensive coordinator.
During his stint from 1997 to 1999 in Washington, he was able to improve the defense to an overall 2nd ranked unit. It’s safe to say that he has a niche for building stout defenses.
Nolan comes to San Diego already familiarized with the current 3-4 base defense; he ran the same scheme last year in Atlanta. The transition should be relatively easy for the young and talented linebacker unit that he will inherit.
The Chargers ended the 2014 season as a top 10 ranked defense. Now the team looks to top the NFL with an experienced coaching staff guiding a stealthy defensive unit.
Out here in the small Suncoast area of Florida, it is extremely rare to find Charger fans. I have met only a couple and much more recently had the pleasure of meeting Dino Rustin. Not only was adding another Bolt Family member close by me a huge success, but the way we met was priceless.
I was at my daughter’s soccer game when I noticed someone sitting down and wearing a Chargers hat. With that symbol being obscure out here, I of course had to shout “Go Chargers!” Immediately he looked up and shook my hand with a smile. He asked if I drove the blue Mazda with the Chargers emblem. After confirming that it was indeed my car, he proceeded to tell me that he left me a note. He stated that him and his family just moved from Oklahoma to Sarasota two days prior and when he noticed another Charger supporter, he had to connect somehow. It just so happened that his daughter was playing against my daughter’s soccer team – that is Charger fate for sure.
Dino is a solid individual with so much passion for his work and the Chargers. So without further ado, please welcome Dino Rustin to the Bolt Family!!
BWK: Let’s start the interview with you giving the fans a short personal bio about yourself
Dino: My name is Dino. I was born in 1980. I’m a native of Pacific Beach and have since moved across the country, now residing in Florida. I have two amazing daughters and a wonderful wife, all Charger fans. One of my daughters is named after Mr. Padre himself.
BWK: When did you decide to become a diehard Chargers fan?
Dino: See picture below
BWK: Who is your favorite Bolt player – former and current?
Dino: My favorite current Charger is #85. I remember his first pre-season…the story building up around this guy who had never played football in college, but somehow he dazzled us with incredible hands, post-up jump-balls…and now a lengthy Hall-of-Fame career. My favorite former Charger is #3…John Carney. I remember throughout the 90s, the Chargers winning games with 18 or 15 points. He was automatic…and he was reliable…and he was the #1 player on my Fantasy Football team! Not to mention, I met him a few times and he was a SUPER cool guy! (pic below at UCSD training camp) I would be remiss to not mention LT, Fouts, Seau…
BWK: What is your favorite moment/play in the team’s history?
Dino: Not even a question… Jan 15, 1995….Neil O’Donnell-led Steelers lined up at the goal line, Barry Foster coming out of the backfield. Last play of the game. I was on my knees in the living room…no one was saying a word in the house. Out of nowhere comes #57 Dennis Gibson…the ball gets batted to the ground…game over…Chargers going to the Super Bowl!!! I cried…my family screamed and hugged…horns blared throughout Pacific Beach and the whole city. I ran outside and screamed…others were doing the same. I’ll never forget that moment! Adding more sweetness to the victory, I had chosen to save every Monday SDUT Sports page that season to make a scrapbook…just for fun…little did I know! As for Dennis Gibson, in my opinion, for one play in his entire career that mattered, he belongs in the Chargers Hall of Fame.
BWK: Addressing this year’s team, tell me what players you would award for MVP, Comeback Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year. Briefly tell me why you selected the players you did.
Dino: MVP – Rivers, with Gates as a close second. Rivers was clearly hurt and toughed it out. He laid a few eggs here and there, but I’d hate to think what would have happened without him taking snaps under center.
COMEBACK – M80…dude should have probably retired and he comes back with an 850 yard season with a few scores. Solid from a guy we needed to be solid…and he did it very quietly, which I appreciate, as it communicates steadiness over the whole of 16 games.
OFFENSIVE – This is going to Gates. Antonio was everything Rivers needed him to be this season. After being riddled with injuries, I was excited that he put together back-to-back solid seasons, and found the end zone plenty.
DEFENSIVE – This may be controversial, but I appreciated how much Manti Te’o stepped up at the end of the season. I realize he had injuries to deal with and is still finding his game, but he was very solid in those final two games and it reshaped the entire defense as a force to be reckoned with.
ROOKIE – Branden Oliver. Who else was there? I think Verrett, Watt, and Attaochu will be good players when they actually get off the injury report and lock in to their positions.
BWK: In your opinion, what is the most glaring needs for the team and what do you think management should do to address those needs?
Dino: Clearly, the offensive line needs a lot of work. No team can go in thinking they could lose half a dozen O-lineman to IR, so their effort this season was commendable. We need to draft a couple linemen high, as well as go out and get a couple of vets. Having a seasoned center would be very beneficial. We need to get Mathews off the books, which is unfortunate, but he doesn’t play enough to merit a spot. Then we need to sign or draft a guy who can run between the tackles and take a beating. We definitely need a KOS (Kickoff Specialist) who can kick it out of the end zone, as field position was a huge issue for us. I would sign Ndamakong Suh in a second, and pay him whatever he wants, to shore up the D-line.
BWK: Do you follow any routine on Charger Game Day? Any musical playlists that you listen to?
Dino: I wear my Chargers tie to church, which is kinda fun. Of course, I have to find a place to watch the game since I’m on the east coast now. If we get the game on TV, I get my girls ready to watch…toss a football around with them on the floor when one is available. I call my dad about a dozen times to talk pre-game…and probably another dozen calls during the game. For primetime games, I start drinking coffee around 8:00pm so I can stay up. My family bumps the San Diego Super Chargers song all afternoon! The kids dance and love it…I really think the Chargers ought to ditch the new songs and go back to the classic!
BWK: In your opinion, who is winning the Super Bowl this year? This team you predicted – what page should the Chargers take from to ensure a Super Bowl run in America’s finest city?
Dino: I think the Patriots put together a complete package this season and Brady knows how to win the big games. It’s gonna be tough for teams to come into New England and win in January. I think the Patriots have succeeded, like the Broncos, in aggressively pursuing game-changer type players. They identified a need, and went out and got the best guy possible from free agency.
BWK: Would you like to see Frank Reich around for at least one more year or would you like to show him the door? Defend your response.
Dino: I was pretty indifferent on Reich. I think he could have been good for Buffalo if Rex didn’t sign. I wouldn’t mind him sticking around, but I wasn’t super impressed either. I don’t get the sense that he ever got to dial up the offense he intended, due to all the injuries. Looking at the games where the Chargers just couldn’t score…which were quite a few…you have to at least kinda credit him with not dialing up something different in terms of adjustments.
BWK: What player impressed you the most this season? What player disappointed you the most? Please explain why you choose who you did
Dino: Impressed me the most…Melvin Ingram, coming back from that gnarly injury again. What a gamer…and he, like Te’o, really changed the whole vibe of the defense. Shout out of Brandon Flowers too…coming in here on the one year contract and playing really well in that corner role! Chris Watt gets a gold star…he was never supposed to come in here and be a starting center and he did what he could. Lastly, Dontrelle Inman looks like he could REALLY contribute in coming years. In terms of disappointment, I think we were all hoping for more out of Ladarius Green. I don’t think he was on the field enough, due to Gates’s solid year, but I think a lot of fans were expecting him to really emerge and takeover this year. Instead, Gates put up a pro-bowl caliber season, and Green faded into the background. He’s a weapon that could be utilized more.
BWK: How do you feel about McCoy and his time thus far in San Diego?
Dino: McCoy has been ok…I’m not overly impressed, but he’s found ways to win with a trash heap of a team. I think he’s solid, steady, and with more time and weapons, could really blossom.
BWK: What game was your favorite to watch in the 2014-2015 season? What game was your least favorite?
Dino: Least is easy…the KC game. I came home to SD for the holidays…got to sit down with the fam and watch a game like the good old days…everything is riding on the line, and the Bolts lay an egg. It was really frustrating that I almost sensed they would lose the game by the first quarter. Favorite game has to be a toss-up between the Niners and Ravens game…I like a good nail biter, and those took me to another play of adrenaline.
BWK: Being one of few teams that has yet to achieve Super Bowl Champion status, do you feel San Diego can bring home the Lombardi Trophy in the next few years?
Dino: I think if they could spend their cap money wisely and put in place the pieces they are missing, then yes. If they keep dragging their feet in free agency and ending up with 2nd & 3rd tier players, there’s no way.
BWK: What are your thoughts about Ryan Mathews? Talk about your feelings when he was drafted all the way through this past season.
Dino: I was excited when Mathews was drafted. I never expected him to be LT, but I figured he could be a solid workhorse back. The fumbles were rough early on, and cost us some games. Then the injuries starting piling up and it took him off the field. When he plays, he’s great…he just doesn’t play enough. During his time, I would question his desire from time to time…wondered if he wanted to be a superstar in the NFL. I am no doctor, and his injury history is unfortunate and no one’s fault, but it’s hard to grow up watching guys like Seau play with pinched nerves and Rivers having had ACL surgery before the playoff games. Then thinking about Mathews and his injuries that kept him on the sidelines for crucial games. That’s when doubts of his toughness come to my mind.
BWK: Do you think Philip Rivers needs to win a ring in order to be voted into the Hall of Fame?
Dino: I think that over the next decade, we’re gonna see a lot of quarterbacks putting up Rivers-like numbers. The league has become so pass-happy that Rivers, who had a 4,000+ yard season, is in the same ballpark with 11 or 12 other quarterbacks. My guess is that Rivers would need to put this team on his back and win a couple of rings, as well as an MVP award, to even be considered. By the time he retires, his numbers could look very ordinary. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Rivers and believe he will hold a special place in the hearts of Charger fans for the rest of our lives…I just don’t know that his numbers will translate to a HOF nod.
BWK: Do you think the Chargers should address River’s replacement this offseason?
Dino: I think we better start doing something now. This probably won’t be popular, but if RG3 is available in free agency, I think he’d be worth bringing in for a season or two to see if he can develop under Rivers’ tutelage. I think drafting a franchise QB is a huge risk, so I imagine our post-Rivers near-future is already in the league somewhere.
BWK: With our cap room and looking at next season’s opponents, what are your early predictions for 2015-2016?
Dino: I think if the Chargers could sign a couple of impact players and get a starter in the draft’s first round, we could do alright. Sign a beast of a RT, a seasoned center, Suh on D, another cornerback with Flowers and Verrett…draft Melvin Gordon?? That could be a really solid team. The schedule is the schedule…and it doesn’t look all that much easier than this season’s schedule. If we stay healthy, I think the Chargers will win four division games and win the AFC West at 11-5.
BWK: Anything else you want to tell the Bolt Family about yourself?
Dino: I will be a Chargers fan forever! Even though I don’t live in SD anymore, I will be heartbroken if they take the golden paycheck that is promised in LA. I wish that San Diego’s non-diehard-Charger fans would pull their heads out and start supporting a civic cause that is much bigger than any of us! The stadium means the Chargers…but it could mean so much more!
I want to thank Dino again for his time in conducting this interview.
Eddie Brown III of UT San Diego posts a full 3-round mock draft.
Kevin Acee of UT San Diego talks about LaDainian Tomlinson’s comments about San Diego pursuing Adrian Peterson.
Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com profiles the 2015 tight end position for the Chargers.
Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego interviews offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles.
Stay tuned for my interviews with Gene Cubbison of NBC San Diego, NFL linebacker Thomas Keiser and Charger offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles in the next week or so.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Kevin Acee of UT San Diego writes about Eric Weddle and how number 32 would have rather played next Sunday in Arizona.
Eric Williams of ESPN.com takes a look at the wide receivers in San Diego.
This piece on MMQB talks about Pro football focus and how it started.