Rarely do we encounter someone who can truly inspire us. Being passionate fans of a sports team, we sometimes feel that athletes are superhuman, especially when comparing them to ourselves. The general public is able to know what pro athletes make on their paychecks, and probably know more about their personal lives than the athletes would like.
The bottom line? They are people, just like you and I. They have the same passion for the game, the same ideals about values, morals, politics..etc. as we do. Outside a few thorns in the NFL, I bet if we were to spend time with them, we might be surprised to find out they are regular human beings with a physical talent that exceeds most.
Since around the time of last year’s draft, I have been very fortunate to have a friendship with our own Craig Watts Jr. I did my first interview of an NFL player with Craig, was able to get him involved with an amazing Chargers website, BoltBlitz.com, and was able to have my nephew meet him out in Arizona – all the while tucked in my little corner of Florida.
What also makes Craig unique, is his reasoning on playing the game of football. “ Football was not my way out; I do it for myself because I love to play – not as a means to an end.”
Craig Watts Jr. is very comparable to….Craig Watts Jr. He has never wanted to compare himself to someone else, nor has he ever tried to emulate anyone. “Some players might even hate the game but they talked always about going to D-1 and playing in the NFL. I just wanted to play the game because I love the game. In all activities that I was involved with, I just loved the competitiveness of the whatever sport I was involved in.”
With so many accolades and adjectives to choose from when describing Craig, the one word that I confidently choose to use is humble. Speaking for over two hours with Craig, and hearing his routine of feeding the homeless when he goes out to eat, warms my heart with a sense of pride and validation in the goodness of humanity. He never informs people he encounters that he plays for the San Diego Chargers. Craig does not brag about feeding several people on the streets when he goes out. Have some of us done this? I know I have. So why would Craig get huge publicity from this when you and I have done something similar with no attention? Because Craig Watts Jr. is a human being first, football player second.
With that I would like to take you on a personal journey into the life of the offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers, Craig Watts Jr.
BWK: As child, who was the most influential person in your life and why?
CW: I have to say my dad. As I got older, I realized how just how much I modeled myself after him; how much I am like him and our similarities. I would say a close second would be my brother. It was just the father-to-son and the brother-to-brother thing, which in itself is a strong bond. I feel that those two were very instrumental as far as what I saw as a role model and influence (to be).
I would also say that others who were a big influence in my life growing up were professional wrestlers. Me and my buddy idolized wrestlers and you could not tell us (back then) that we weren’t going to be professional wrestlers.
BWK: Was there any wrestler in particular?
CW: You know it’s funny that King (Dunlap) and I were just talking about this the other day. My top three were, on the WWE side, The Rock, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. And in particular, the “bad boy” persona of The Undertaker. He was a biker and came out Kid Rock. That portion of him (The Undertaker) I really enjoyed watching. But if I were to include all wrestlers and not just WWE, I would say Goldberg (as my favorite). Goldberg was the dude back then. There were a lot others I really enjoyed, but those were my top favorites.
BWK: How did you spend your summers during your youth?
CW: We moved around a lot so there was various things we would do. With my parents both in active duty me and my brother were usually left alone to be active during our summers. I would go to the YS (Youth Services) a lot. The YS is a lot like the YMCA but for military families. There was the teen center, pool tables, crafts, basketball courts and other activities. No matter where we were at, Kansas, Germany..etc, we were always involved in something. We never just sat at home.
BWK: What branch of the military were your parents active in?
CW: I was the only one in my family who was not involved in the military. My brother, who is about 5 ½ years older, was in the Navy for about 3 or 4 years and I believe is still active. My mother did 21 years in the Army as a medic. Then there was my dad who did 27 years in the Army as a logistics officer.
BWK: With both your parents being in active duty, were you and your brother and sister left alone for any period of time?
CW: From the best of my knowledge the military does a very good job if you have two parents in active duty; never deployed at the same time. Because I don’t ever remember that occurring. I was always with at least one of my parents. It was normal for me. Now thinking back I think the only time that might have happened was when my dad went to visit my mom who was deployed at the time, for their anniversary. But that was for a short time and we stayed with our Godparents.
BWK: In your formative years, was there a teacher that you remember having been particularly influential?
CW: Due to us moving around a lot, I went to 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 2 High schools. So I have seen my fair share of teachers and all of them were great in their own right. In fact, if you gave me time, I could probably name almost all of them.
But to pick the one that was most influential to me has to be Dr. Clarkand his wife, who is also a Doctor. They taught History and his wife was even my advisor. They definitely shaped the academic side of my life and I am still good friends with both of them today. Another person who I have to say was a huge influence on my academics was my mom. My mom would never let me miss a day of school even if I was deathly ill. Our family would move and I still would not miss a day of school. I remember attending one school on a Tuesday, which happened to be the last day I was attending there, and on Wednesday I was attending a new school; literally did not miss a day of school.
As far as my most influential instructor athletically, it is easily my high school coach at Killeen High in Killeen, TX. I was living in San Antonio and attending high school for a while and then moved to Killeen where Coach Gaskamp invited me to play football. He was the first person who really showed me what I could do with it (size and skill). There was a buddy of mine on the team who was all-everything and in the state of Texas that was huge. Coach Gaskamp took me aside and told me that if I trained hard enough, that I could be great.
BWK: Who was your very first love?
CW: I think the first person that I legitimately had a crush on, and I am sure she had no idea, was this girl named Alicia in middle school. I used to think she was the most perfect person on earth; she could do no wrong. I think I liked her because she was one of the popular kids but she was super nice to me. And as a self-proclaimed nerd, that was cool. Like I thought so much of her that if I were hanging off a cliff with a rope tied to my ankles and she cut the rope…I would tell everyone “It’s not her fault! Someone made her do it!”
BWK: What was your favorite music/band in high school?
CW: I liked everything musically but my affinity for great R&B and even jazz, was due to my dad’s influence. My dad listened to Kenny G. I know everyone makes fun of him but I thought he was the man back then. (Side note: BWK did in fact make fun of Craig for this)
The other album that I listened to so often was Maxwell’s album titled Now. It was just his face and like an orange cover. I knew every single lyric to every single song on that album. That was like the only album we would listen to on the way to soccer games. I really don’t think my dad took that album out of the car’s CD player for an entire year.
As far as like my soundtrack to my high school days though, I would say that it would have to be the band The Fall Out Boys.
BWK: What do you remember most about living abroad? Any interesting stories that the readers would enjoy knowing from your time out there?
CW: Without sounding too philosophical, the one thing I really learned from living abroad was unselfishness. Let me give you an example: We lived on a base of Americans in another person’s country, as a result of the most horrific thing that has ever happened on the earth (WWII), yet we loved the Germans and they loved us. You would think that if there was a base of Germans that was placed in like Lexington, Kentucky, how outraged people would be. But the Germans were not like that at all. I don’t remember anyone being too upset, being discriminatory, or even being messed with for that matter. Even when we moved back there the second time, the Czech Republic was tearing itself apart with Germany right next door, 9/11 had happened…etc., and the people were still friendly and unselfish.
BWK: So you were in Germany for 9/11?
CW: Yes I was. I happened to be home after school; which was different from all of my stateside friends since I was 6 hours ahead of them and already finished school for the day. Anyway, I only had about 7 channels to watch and I was trying to find Cartoon Network. Then I saw it and thought it was a movie trailer or a commercial. But something inside told me to call my dad. So I did. At first my dad tried to tell me over the phone by telling me that a plane crashed into a building. Well at 10 yrs old, that was not a good enough answer for me. I had a ton of questions about the incident, where it happened and what the World Trade Center was. My dad then told me that he would explain it when he got home. The base was on lockdown with a ton of extra security around. There was a gate that was always opened, we could come and go as we pleased. Now this gate was locked. It was an experience for sure.
BWK: What was your very first paying job?
CW: My parents didn’t want me to pursue getting a job because they were all about focusing on school and being a kid. I mean I had mowed some yards and such for neighbors. That reminds me of a funny little story. I remember there was a neighbor when I lived in San Antonio that paid me about $20 a day to feed their cats and water their plants. I remember being so irresponsible about this. It was such an easy job as they were just two houses down. I would sometimes forget to go, or I would lose the key, or just felt like an 11 yr old lazy kid. And if I did go, I would water those plants with a TON of water, thinking that I could pass on it for a few more days – not realizing you could drown a plant.
But seriously, the first actual paying job where I received a paycheck was when I attended West Texas A&M. I did it for all four years and actually when I first started, I thought it was a volunteer gig, so when I found out I was getting a paycheck, I freaked out. I was a peer leader at the campus; basically we were the face of the school. The kids would come out for orientation, usually during the summer, and we were assigned to them; kind of like their role models. We would hang out with them all day making sure they had all that they needed. These kids were already accepted into the school, they just had not yet enrolled for their classes. We were not there to recruit and we were not there as a tour guide. What I really loved was that it was workplace simulated. If there was a problem that we saw, we would fix it. My boss would come to me and tell me that we were involved and if there were changes that needed to be made in order for it to be better, whatever it was, then we should do it. It was very empowering. I am the only one, that I know of, that did it for all four years. I really enjoyed it and am still good friends with some of those incoming freshman today.
BWK: Do you remember how much your first paycheck was?
CW: We made an annual salary of $3,500 a year. Every other week I got a check for $146, like clockwork. I could not wait until payday and roll myself to payroll services for those checks!!
BWK: If you were not gifted as a football player, what do you think you would be doing right now?
CW: I would still be in school getting my composite Masters degree in international relations and national security. My emphasis in school was politics and American history and I wanted to pursue a career in a government-related field like the FBI or national defense.
BWK: Which professional athlete during your lifetime have you admired most?
CW: I loved and admired all sports and so I had a player or two from each sport that I really admired. In basketball it is Lebron James. I do watch and like watching basketball a lot, and cheered for the Chicago Bulls. Many pro basketball players I liked; kind of random, but I loved watching Shaq and Reggie Miller. As far as Reggie I really began to appreciate him more and his competitiveness on the court. In baseball, and I am not that big of a baseball fan, it was Ken Griffey Jr. He was such a pure athlete. Football wise, it was Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Those two have a great passion for the sport and their positions and I think those two are the most I identify with.
BWK: If there was a player, former or current, whom you want to mirror, who is it and why?
CW: One of the things that I would really like to become is a student of the game, become more knowledgeable about the game. In my position, there are multiple players whom I would like to mirror. I dont want to mold myself and my game after one guy but take a little from this person and a little from this person. For example, I would take the consistency of a Jonathan Ogden. He was reliable and that is a trait of a very good lineman; more accountable than flashy. His longevity as well is something that I would like to shoot for in my career. Another player at my position I would take from would be Bruce Matthews. His versatility would be the thing I take from him. Bruce was, I believe, a Pro Bowl player at two different positions; starting 3 or 4 years at a different position on the line. Now of course there are plenty of players that I am surrounded by daily with the Chargers, that I would learn from. As far as a current lineman whom I would take something from would be Joe Thomas (OT for the Cleveland Browns). I think his burst and speed is incredible. His first step out of his stance is tremendous and something to watch.
BWK: What is your most embarrassing moment?
CW: There are so many moments, but the first one that popped in my head was when I was about 8 years old and most of the time I wanted to hang out with my brother who is 5 ½ years older than me. So of course, hanging out with older kids is “very cool” right? So anyway, one day I was playing Monopoly with my brother, a few of our neighbor friends and one of their moms. I had just learned the word condominium, or at least associating it with hotels for the game. Anyway, at one point I remember cashing out my houses and saying “Yeah, put me down for new condoms.” Everybody was looking at me wondering what I just said. I didn’t even know what I said, I was just acting like I knew a big word
BWK: What is your greatest fear?
CW: I would say in the most simplest terms, that it would be death. As I got older, it wasn’t just the mere fact of dying that I feared. Let me explain this. When I was 11 years old, I remember being at home and watching re-runs of MTV shows. All of a sudden I had this weird nervous breakdown, like something that you might get going through a midlife crisis. At the moment for some reason I realized that we were all going to die someday.
BWK: Was it a certain show that you watched or something you saw on the TV that triggered this feeling?
CW: No, I think it was the fact that I was sitting around doing nothing. Like I thought to myself, “I’m wasting my life.” I am not sure what caused it, I couldn’t tell you. But I was just sitting there and it randomly hit me. I called my dad. I don’t know how a father is supposed to take that kind of call from his 11-year-old son ya know? Like he was just sitting there and now fielding a call from his son who just randomly, and through a sobbing voice, found out about the death of all humanity. As I have gotten older, my biggest fear is just…to not be. It is not the death or the dying that is my fear, it is the not existing. For example, Genghis Khan. Like his world was horrible but it was life back then. Now life is great and he wasn’t able to witness these times. That is what I mean. Like what is the world going to be and look like in 100 or 200 years? And knowing that I will not be able to witness or know what happens is my fear. Our brains can not imagine the absence of time or space, and I think that was my attempt to try and understand that. Because we don’t control our destiny and I feel that when it’s my time, it is my time. That’s the delicate balance when it comes to our own mortality.
BWK: What is your definition of happiness?
CW: To be free of sadness. Your happiness is dictated by what pleases you in life, by whatever your passion is. It is being content. If you don’t long for anything or you’re not looking at anything that would secure your place in life, you are happy. There are things left that I want to accomplish so in a micro sense, I am content and happy with where I am at. On the macro level of contentment, I know there is much more I want to experience and do which will ultimately define my overall happiness.
I would like to thank Craig for giving his time in providing this glimpse into his life. I want to wish him a very Happy Birthday today (June 20th, 2015), and wish him nothing but happiness and success. Most of us know what kind of player he is and how valuable he will be when he gets the call. I hope that with this interview people will see what an exceptional and valuable human being he is, as well as a talented football player.
Thanks for reading.
- Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
EDITOR’S NOTE: With all of the uncertainty regarding the stadium situation in San Diego, we here at BoltBlitz.com thought it would be helpful to request and obtain an interview with Mark Fabiani, special counsel to the Chargers. Mr. Fabiani was kind enough to agree to the interview. BoltBlitz reporter Thomas Powell asked some very difficult questions, and Mr. Fabiani did not shy away from answering any of them in a very blunt and honest manner.
Thomas Powell: In your meeting with CSAG in January, they said your position on the location of a new stadium was “agnostic”. Many people believe the Chargers favored downtown for a variety of reasons. What do you believe led to the miscommunications, if there were any?
Mark Fabiani: One of many problems created by meetings that aren’t public, and that aren’t transcribed in any way, is that people can come out of those meetings and say whatever they want about what occurred in the meeting – and there is simply no way for the public to sort out what actually happened.
That’s why, right when I appeared before CSAG, we made public the text of my testimony. That testimony can be read in full here: http://www.chargers.com/news/2015/02/16/chargers-remarks-stadium-task-force-extended-version. I’m sure that fair-minded readers will conclude that the team’s position is made very clear in this testimony.
Indeed, over the last 14 years, we’ve made our position on various sites extremely clear. We have spoken regularly with the media and with the community at hundreds of public events. And over all of that time, our position hasn’t changed: What’s most important is finding a funding solution that works for the public, the elected officials, the Chargers, and the NFL. Once you figure out a mutually acceptable financing solution, the exact site chosen is of secondary importance. Remember, over the last 14 years, we have carefully evaluated sites in Chula Vista (two separate sites), National City, Oceanside, and Escondido as well as several in the City of San Diego.
Of course, having worked on this for 14 years, we have our own strong views – formed with the help of people who we’ve hired and who we believe to be the best experts around – about which sites are financeable and which ones aren’t.
Now, CSAG has said that it believes that the Mission Valley site can be financed in a publicly acceptable way, and we look forward to reviewing the plan when it is released in May.
Thomas Powell: Eric Grubman is the NFL executive VP for the NFL. Tony Manolatos is the CSAG spokesperson. Tony accused you and Grubman on an LA Radio Sports Station of being in a bluff scheme regarding the Carson stadium issue. I found his statements to be damaging to the process of getting a deal done here in San Diego. Tony said on the show, The Beast 980am, “We do think that Carson was collectively a big bluff, if you will, built around PSL’s. Mr. Fabiani used to be a consultant for Goldman Sachs. Mr. Grubman used to work for Goldman Sachs. So, there are many existing relationships there. We are not surprised that Goldman stepped up and said, ‘we’re going to be involved.’ I wanted to give you a chance to respond to Tony’s comments here.
Mark Fabiani: I can’t explain why the Mayor’s Office and CSAG chose to hire the spokesperson they hired, and why they apparently agree with his continuing efforts to criticize NFL officials, the Chargers, Carson elected officials, and Goldman Sachs. That’s really a question for the Mayor’s Office and CSAG.
Thomas Powell: In an article in the San Diego Reader on April 3, 2015, by Matt Potter, questions were raised about Jason Roe. Jason is Kevin Faulconer’s top political consultant. Now the city is negotiating with Delaware North, a food and beverage service contractor for sports’ venues. They have been rumored to have an interest in replacing Centerfield as the Padres’ main concessions provider. Roe has a new lobbying firm that was retained to provide support for Delaware North taking over said contract. What concerns do you have, if any, about Jason Roe and his relationship with the Mayor Faulconer?
Mark Fabiani: On February 17, we sent a letter to the Mayor asking what we thought were reasonable questions about Mr. Roe’s role. A copy of that letter can be found here. The Mayor chose to not answer those questions. Since then, although the Union Tribune has religiously avoided any critical reporting on this issue, other media outlets have launched their own inquiries. Take a look here http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/government/city-council-deal-could-pump-millions-into-an-endangered-qualcomm/, or here http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/apr/16/ticker-could-feds-be-prowling-mayors-qualcomm-DEAL/.
Thomas Powell: Many fans wonder, as it relates to the Carson and Inglewood projects, why are the Chargers so active in Los Angeles, yet so quiet here in San Diego? What message can you relay to the Charger fans in San Diego regarding this matter?
Mark Fabiani: Quiet in San Diego? I don’t think I agree with that assessment. On the contrary, ever since the Mayor announced in January that his task force would deliver its results in October, we have been extremely public about the need to speed up that timetable. And since then we have been extremely public about the concerns we have about how the entire task force process is unfolding.
But even before January, take a look at the last 14 years. We’ve made nine separate proposals. We have made available $400 million in funding from the Chargers and from NFL loans. To date, spanning 14 years, these are the only serious proposals that have ever been made, and ours is the only serious money that has ever been pledged to the project.
Thomas Powell: The Carson City Council just voted to enact the stadium initiative sponsored by the Chargers and the Raiders. What does that mean for the prospect of a new stadium in Los Angeles – and for San Diego’s prospects?
Mark Fabiani: The Carson City Council vote puts the stadium site in Carson on exactly the same footing as the proposed Inglewood stadium site. Both sites are now fully entitled, with financing plans in place and NFL teams committed to the sites if the teams cannot find solutions in their home markets. Ultimately, it will be up to the owners of the NFL to make the final decision, and the matter will only come to the owners if a team (or teams) submits a relocation application for Los Angeles. That would start a formal review process by NFL officials that would eventually culminate in a vote of the owners.
At the same time, both the Chargers and the Raiders have made clear from the outset that their first priority is to find solutions in their home markets. And both teams have made clear from the start that they intend to respect the decision of the NFL owners.
Thomas Powell: Speaking of NFL owners, the Chargers met this week with the NFL’s Los Angeles Committee, which is made up of some of the most influential owners in the League. Tell us about those meetings.
Mark Fabiani: Yes, on Wednesday afternoon at NFL headquarters in New York City, the Chargers and Raiders made a joint presentation to the LA Committee of owners. Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve been before the Committee. Previously we have presented, with Goldman Sachs, the financing plan for Carson, along with our strategy for securing entitlements and initial architectural renderings of the proposed Los Angeles Stadium.
At this week’s meeting, our goal was to update the owners on the progress that has been made in Carson, unveil new LA stadium renderings that are the result of two months of close collaboration between the Raiders and Chargers, and update the Committee on the situations in each of our home markets. So the Chargers provided an update on the San Diego market, and the Raiders did the same thing for Oakland. Since Eric Grubman and Chris Hardart of the NFL had visited both cities just last week and had already reported back, I don’t think we added much that was new to the League about our home market, but we appreciated the opportunity to offer the update and to answer questions that the owners had.
Thomas Powell: Have the Chargers changed their stance at all regarding controlling the naming rights to a stadium and a revenue-sharing program? Is this a possible negotiating tool after the financial plan is announced in due time?
Mark Fabiani: As I made clear in my February testimony to CSAG, the only reason for any team to have a new stadium is to allow the team to remain financially competitive with the other teams in the NFL. If the stadium developer needs to take all of the stadium revenues to pay for construction, then the team would receive no stadium revenues and would be in a dramatically less-competitive financial position than the team is in its current stadium. And, throughout the NFL, teams generally receive the revenues derived from naming rights. So if the Chargers are going to be financially competitive over the long term in San Diego, the team needs access to the same revenue streams – including naming rights – that other teams receive in their home markets.
Thomas Powell: I would stand behind a special election in early 2016 on a stadium vote. Do the Chargers have a position on a possible special election?
Mark Fabiani: A special election will not lead to a successful result. The turnout in special elections is always extremely low, and the voters who do turn out in special elections in San Diego are inclined to vote against major public projects such as this one. Our only hope for success at the ballot box would be a high-turnout, general election – and unfortunately the next one of those elections is in November 2016.
Thomas Powell: Have the Chargers considered moving forward in San Diego just as you are doing in Carson, with the so-called “citizen action” strategy: Gathering signatures, qualifying a measure for the ballot, and then asking the City Council to adopt the measure as is once the signatures are certified?
Mark Fabiani: Yes, we have looked closely at this option for San Diego and concluded that, unfortunately, it is not likely to succeed here. Simply put, in San Diego, the stadium question is going to end up on the ballot, one way or the other.
That’s because any action taken by the City Council is subject to the referendum process. Opponents of the Council’s decision can gather signatures and demand that the Council’s decision be placed before the voters. Once that happens, everything stops and the Council’s decision is effectively nullified to allow the voters pass judgment on it. Generally, that would occur at the next regularly scheduled election.
We are seeing this process play out right now in San Diego around the One Paseo development project. After six years, the project finally emerged from the entitlement process, at which point opponents started to gather signatures to put the entire project on hold until voters can decide its fate at the next regularly scheduled election. And the exact same process is playing out now statewide, as opponents of the California legislature’s plastic ban bag qualified a referendum and so put a halt to the law’s implementation. Here is a good explanation of what happened to the legislature’s plastic bag ban law: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-california-plastic-bag-ban-20150223-story.html
So, what would happen with a controversial City Council vote on the San Diego stadium project is that opponents would likely qualify a referendum – and the whole matter would end up on the ballot in 2016 anyway. That’s why, under these circumstances – if you have the time – you always try to put your project’s initiative on the ballot yourself, so that you can control the precise wording of the measure and the timing of the election.
Thomas Powell: There was a proposal to the Mission Valley site regarding the river walk presented by councilman Scott Sherman. You have studied the Mission Valley site for years. It seems to bring up a lot of potential obstacles that could aid in the effort to fund a stadium. What is your heart-felt message to the voters and Charger fans in San Diego? Have the Chargers communicated an opinion on the river walk proposal?
Mark Fabiani: We have a great relationship with Councilman Sherman, and we welcomed his recent involvement in the process. Councilman Sherman is exactly right when he says that the parking lot at the Qualcomm site in Mission Valley could be put to a much more productive and better use, including by creating a riverfront park.
This was the exact premise of the proposal we made to the City in 2004, which would have required the Chargers to finance the entire project (including a river-front park) in return for the City providing 60 of the 166 Mission Valley acres to the team. As you know, the City at the time refused to support our proposal.
What we encountered in 2004, and what Councilman Sherman’s press conference participants encountered more recently, are questions about what kind of density can be supported in Mission Valley in light of all of the other development that has occurred there in recent years. These issues are vital to the residents of Mission Valley, and they potentially create huge infrastructure improvement costs that must be added on to the cost of any project in Mission Valley.
One way or the other, though, as Councilman Sherman said, these issues will have to be dealt with at some point in the future, either as part of a stadium development or as part of a new use for the entire Mission Valley site.
We have promised to evaluate carefully CSAG’s Mission Valley proposal when it is made public. We look forward to doing that.
Thomas Powell: Are you okay being labeled the villain in all of this? Some view you as the most negative influence in all this, and the main reason there is so much friction between the Chargers and City Hall. Do you care about your reputation in San Diego? Or are you just focused on doing your job and being a good soldier? Basically, for the people who don’t know you, who is the real Mark Fabiani?
Mark Fabiani: If it were easy to build a new NFL stadium in Southern California, several new facilities would have been built a long time ago – in LA, in San Diego, in Orange County. This is very difficult stuff. And when you try to do difficult things, there’s inevitably going to be controversy. And then there’s the old saying: Incoming fire is evidence that you’ve been hitting the right targets. So that’s pretty much how I look at it.
Thomas Powell: Some fans were deeply hurt by the team’s decision to negotiate with Carson over the past 9 months in private, and the mutual announcement with the Oakland Raiders. Why was that decision made, and do you have a message you’d like to deliver to the fans here in San Diego? If so, please do it here.
Mark Fabiani: We explained the Carson decision on the day it was announced, and that full explanation can be found here: http://www.chargers.com/news/2015/02/20/chargers-and-raiders-join-forces-carson-community-group-support-new-los-angeles-nfl/.
And, of course, we understood that fans would be upset by this decision. That’s why we waited 14 years to make this decision; we did everything we possibly could do over that time to avoid making an announcement such as the one we made in Carson. So we hope people in San Diego will keep that in perspective as they evaluate all of this.
We also hope that fans understand that the steps we have taken in Carson have only been taken as a last resort – taken only after 14 years of inaction here in San Diego and only after an aggressive move by another NFL franchise to take over the LA and Orange County markets.
Finally, and most important of all, we hope fans will remember what we have said again and again: Our first priority remains to find a solution in San Diego in 2015, and the Carson option will be exercised if only if we fail to find such a solution.
We’d like to thank Mr. Fabiani for taking the time to do this interview. This was not our first interview with him, and hopefully it won’t be the last.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a reoccurring series of the best and worst memories from Charger fans. This week, longtime Bolt fan Bill Carli provided us his greatest and most fond memory. Please read and leave a comment about your reaction to The 1995 AFC Championship win over the Steelers.
Part of being a fan is having some ruthless memories of your favorite team. On the other hand, there are also some incredibly great ones. The 1995 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is arguably the greatest recollection in Bolts history.
Now, I don’t recall this game as many of my readers do because of my age, however I do remember snippets of my household during the game. In typical party fashion, my parents had the true football game time goods which included food, TV cranked, and of course beer. It’s very likely all of you had the same theme going.
The Chargers 1994 season was not perfect by all means. Head coach Bobby Ross and the team had their losses, but they still were crowned AFC West Champions and earned a ticket into the playoffs. You may have heard this before, but the playoffs are a whole different league. The NFL’s very best teams are setup and sent to battle in order to get to the ultimate game; the Super Bowl. For San Diego, it was their destiny to be there.
Do you believe in miracles? Many don’t, but I guarantee that the entire NFL football nation did that day on January 15th, 1995. Just ask Bill Carli, he was with family and friends watching every play of that game to its final seconds.
Bill distinctly remembers “On fourth down when it appeared imminent that the Steelers were going to score. Dennis Gibson knocked down Neil O’Donnell’s pass in the end zone to send the Chargers to their first Super Bowl.”
The Chargers finished the game with 14 unanswered points scored in the second half to upset the Steelers. Junior Seau certainly played one of his greatest games of his career. It was an incredible effort by San Diego who struggled to finish in the end zone majority of the game.
Immediately following the tipped pass, Bill fell to the floor. Rolling around, in full Chargers gear and Charger cape, crying tears of joy. After that play, I’m sure the City of San Diego could be heard across the nation. The blissful tears from diehard fans could have probably flooded the Nile. There was complete football ecstasy in America’s finest city that day.
After the win against the Steelers, it was official that the Chargers owned the entire AFC and would represent the conference in the biggest game of the year. It was a great season which included some of the team’s best players to wear the blue and gold jersey. Memories like these are forever kept in the hearts of Bolt fans and will never fade away. The 1995 AFC Championship game is just that.