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.