It’s Thanksgiving week. This is a time where traditionally you take time to reflect on the blessings you’ve failed to count or take for granted during the year. While I sit enveloped by the many smells emanating from a cornucopia of foods and the sound of football, I can’t help but think of my beloved Chargers.
With just over a month to go in the regular season, I think of the reasons i’m glad I chose the Chargers as my one and only sports franchise. I do love teams across various sports. I love my alma mater, N.C State. I love my Phoenix Suns no matter how bad they are. I like many different teams but the team I am MARRIED to, the team I will love until my casket closes, the team that will cause my heart attack faster than cholesterol or sugar, will be my Chargers.
Despite the yearly heartbreak, the playoff failures, the ineptitude in the front office (until now) and the mass exodus of marquee players this is and will always be a MY team. For them I am thankful and here are a few reasons why.
10. The Chargers play in the greatest city in the US. I saw my first game in San Diego last season and along with it, got my first taste of San Diego. From the beaches to the bay to the skyline you will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful city.
9. Could always be worse, we could be a network of Raiders, Jaguars or Texans fans. For all the Chargers struggles, they are slowly building something that will again become the force of nature it was in the early to mid 2000’s. On the other hand, the Jaguars have sucked for all but maybe two seasons in their entire existence. If you need any more clarity on the direness of the state of football in Jacksonville, they’re begging for TEBOW. Nuff said. The Texans have jumped ship on their own team and are just playing out the string. They’re already scheduling tee times for January and you can see it in their play on the field. The Raiders don’t need or deserve explanation. We don’t get out on furlough to go to the game. We don’t shank other teams fans in the parking lot and don’t live in the past and celebrate Super Bowls we weren’t born for.
8. Charger management. New General Manager Tom Telesco has impressed me with his ability to get quality players in the locker room. He’s shown a take no prisoners approach to overhauling the roster and increasing the team speed and adding youth. Signing impact players like Danny Woodhead, King Dunlap, Thomas Keiser, Seyi Ajirotutu and Derek Cox have improved the team on both sides of the ball. Bringing over Dwight Freeney was a major coup until an injury landed him on the injured reserve list for the season. Still, there’s no doubt he’s making an impact on the young linebackers behind the scenes.
Telesco’s first draft will be seen as a success based on the continuing development of Mantei Te’o and Keenan Allen. DJ Fluker has proved himself as worthy of the spot he was selected in the first round. All the top three selections are on the field making an impact as is the sixth round pick Tourek Williams. His first sack? Just a strip sack of Peyton Manning! If he keeps drafting like this, the Chargers will be in the Super Bowl in no time!
7. Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt. The new head coach and offensive coordinator have made a huge difference in this year’s offense. McCoy’s new offense and the playcalling of Whisenhunt has resulted in a return of the Pro Bowl Philip Rivers and a potent Chargers offense. McCoy has a great history developing quarterbacks and devising offenses that best utilize their strengths. For the most part, this offense has been efficient. They keep the ball moving and chew up copious amounts of clock, keeping dangerous quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck off the field. As they continue to add playmakers and offensive line depth, this will be one of the most lethal offenses in the league in years to come.
6. The unis. The helmets are what made me a Chargers fan as a seven year old boy living in North Carolina. Until I knew who was who I chose who would win the game by who had the best looking helmets. I never picked against the Chargers and my allegiance has never wavered. One never has a second thought throwing on a throwback Chargers jersey. The powder blue jerseys are the best throwbacks in the history of the league. Whether its the old school jersey, the Dan Fouts era jerseys or the recent editions, all the jerseys look fantastic and Charger faithful can rock team gear with pride, unlike fans of other teams. (Looking at you Tampa Bay, New England, Cleveland, Washington and especially you Pittsburgh!)
5. Boltblitz. This site has given me my forum to spout off about all things Chargers and gather loyal readers along the way. I am most thankful of each and every one of you who take the time to read my novellas and come back for more time after time. I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that there are people who will ask our fearless leader, BoogaP, why it’s been a prolonged period of time between my novellas. I pledge to make each column better than the last. Don’t count on them getting any shorter though! I am passionate about my Chargers above all other sports franchises, thus I have the most to say about them. Whether you think I am a good writer, a homer, a terrible writer, it doesn’t matter. You read and come back for more and for that I am most thankful. Salute to each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
4. The Chargers Twitterverse. To expand on the last point, I appreciate all the Chargers faithful who have befriended me on Twitter. My best friend is the Boltfather and the fearless leader of Boltblitz, Dave ‘BoogaP’ Peters. Without him I would not have made it to the twitter route this soon and I probably wouldn’t be on Boltblitz at all. I wouldn’t have met the great group of people that joined us at the preseason game against Dallas last season and have become like family in a short year’s time. I’m thankful to all who like my columns enough to retweet or comment to them. I’m thankful to all who add me to the multitude of Chargers football communities and list me on their follow friday lists. You all are awesome. To the Originals, Tonya, Jen, Callie, John, Tonya and Dave, I love you as much as I do my own family and in some cases more. Thanks to the Chargers universe for accepting me and allowing me amongst you.
3. Eli Manning. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand Eli Manning. However, his idiotic refusal to play in San Diego led to the Chargers being able to fleece the New York Giants for four draft picks in the 2004 draft that made the Chargers yearly playoff entrants for years. As a result of the trade, the Chargers got Nate Kaeding. Kaeding was the most accurate kicker in NFL history when he departed the team in 2012. After a season in Miami he is second on the list of most acurate kickers in NFL history. The Chargers got Shawne Merriman in the 2005 draft. Merriman took the league by storm until a PED suspension signaled the end of his meteoric rise a few short years later.
The most important piece in the deal was bringing in Philip Rivers, a highly decorated quarterback from, oh yeah, N.C. State! Eli’s ignorance got my favorite college football player on my favorite pro football team and Rivers has shown he is a superior quarterback to Eli and the stats bear it out. Eli did happen into a couple Super Bowl rings riding the coattails of the defense but it doesn’t matter how it happens. It did happen. Nevertheless, I will take Philip Rivers. Rivers is a fiery, passionate, locker room leader who plays every game like his hair is on fire. Eli on the other hand, you sometimes wonder if his every movement and omnipresent dopey look isn’t controlled by an unseen puppeteer. Thank you Eli, for sparing the Chargers your dear-in-headlights stare.
2. The future. This team is a team on the rise. I love the core of this team. On offense, Ladarius Green is going to be Antonio Gates 2.0. Being able to come along slowly and learn from a future Hall-Of -Famer in Antonio Gates is an advantage that will pay dividends the rest of his career. Like Gates (6’4), Green is tall (6’6), fast and has great hands.
The rookies are playing great. Keenan Allen is going to be a star receiver in this league and at this point has to be a leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year. Allen has the speed, hands, size (6’2) and is a precise route runner who will only get better as he learns from his mentor, Chargers legend Wes Chandler.
Linebacker Mantei Te’o is learning in live fire after missing most of preseason with injuries but his football IQ and character are unquestioned. He has been given the responsibility of calling defensive signals, accelerating his role in the understanding and leadership of the defense. Te’o will only get better.
Offensive tackle D.J. Fluker has done a great job protecting Rivers from both the right and left side of the line. Not only has Rivers jersey stayed notably clean, the running game is back on track running behind him. Add linebacker Tourek Williams and fifth round draft pick Steven Williams, a ball hawk of a cornerback out of Cal who has missed all season due to an ACL injury to the lineup next season, this group will grow and gel together and become phenomenal together. The future is bright in San Diego.
1. Philip Rivers. That’s. My. QUARTERBACK! Any Chargers fan who isn’t down with PR17 needs to find a new team! This season has seen a return of the Philip Rivers that took the league by storm when he became the Chargers starter. Guess who’s the fourth highest rated quarterback in the league? That’s right, Philip Rivers. Not fourth in the AFC, not fourth in the AFC West, fourth in the league. Manning, Brees and Stafford are the only ones ahead of him. Brady, Rodgers, and the new flavor of the months read option quarterbacks all fall in line behind Rivers.
As I have said all along, the problem was never Rivers, it was the deterioration of the team around him. Having Rivers makes me proud to call myself a Chargers fan. Not only because he’s from my Alma Mater but because he’s always been the one constant Charger fans can count on. Field General. When he has time to throw he is the best in the league. Makes the most out of the least and plays with the passion we all did in our playing days. There’s not a player in the league I would rather have at the helm of the Chargers. Now that he’s got some legitimate weapons and a coach that understands how to create an offense that compliments his talents, I can’t wait to see Rivers finally get his Super Bowl ring!
I am unabashedly the President of the Philip Rivers fan club and I make no apologies for it. I am a flagbearer for the Chargers and I will always be honored to be. I will defend our Chargers against all fans of all teams, foreign and domestic, who try to diss our team without knowing the facts. The upcoming years are going to be the most exciting in Chargers history since the apex of the Ladainian Tomlinson era. I am thankful to have been on this ride from the beginning with all of you and I will be in San Diego partying my tail off with the rest of you when the Lombardi Trophy finally comes home to America’s Finest City, San Diego!
The Greg One