It all came about because of a neighbor, who happened to be a diehard Chargers fan.
Initially, I was never a gal who liked to watch football. I went to a couple of games in high school but that was it. I grew up in this little place in Rhode Island, which is about a 90-minute drive outside of Boston. The closest NFL team was the Patriots. (I know, boo-hiss!) The only thing I could tell you then about the New England Patriots was that their quarterback was Jim Plunkett and they played at Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, MA.
My dad was a baseball guy, a fan of the good ol’ Boston Red Sox. The BoSox were his team, and Luis Tiant was his favorite player; probably more so than either Carl Yazstremski (“Yaz” was my favorite) or Tony Conigliaro.
We never watched football!
No, not even Super Bowls!
Fast forward to moving from the East Coast to the West Coast in 1980. I was still pretty uneducated about football at that time, but not for much longer!
I believe it was that fall when we began going to our neighbor’s home to watch San Diego Chargers football on Sunday afternoons. The Chargers’ Air Coryell offense was flying high with Fouts at QB. He had Charlie Joiner and John Jefferson at wideout, along with Chuck Muncie and John Cappelletti as his running backs. Additionally, No. 14 had Kellen Winslow at the tight-end spot. Remember that defense? Willie Buchanon, Louie Kelcher, Woody Lowe, Don Macek, Jim Laslavic and Ed White. Beasts!
That was a great year to start being a fan. The Chargers ended the season with an 11-5 record, finishing in 1st place in the AFC West. They went on to face the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round and won. Unfortunately, they ran into the Oakland Raiders at the AFC Championship level and lost. Disappointed, but my interest was piqued.
The following year the Chargers won their division again, in no small part due to the guys who returned from the previous year, but also additions like Wes Chandler, James Brooks, Eric Sievers and Pete Holohan.
Then came the “Epic in Miami.” What a game! Once you hear it, all football fans immediately associate it with the image of an exhausted and drained Kellen Winslow being helped off the field by a couple of teammates. Chargers won the hard-fought, see-saw contest, 41-38 in overtime. It was quite a battle.
These are the types of games that get fans fired up! I was no different. By that point, I was becoming a fan, although my understanding of the sport was still miniscule.
After the heat and humidity of Miami a week later, Fouts and Company found themselves in Cincinnati. This game gets a nickname, too: the “Freezer Bowl.” From the heat and humidity of Miami to the sub-zero temperatures in Cincy, where the wind chill at game time was minus-59 degrees! The Chargers would have the fight of their football lives on the line. Sadly, they lost to the Bengals 27-7.
Of course, there were other games and players that helped solidify my enjoyment – and frustration – of Chargers’ football, just like many other people who root for them. As a “transplant” to California in 1980, there were four football teams here: the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders, the LA Rams and the San Diego Chargers.
I chose to represent San Diego then as I do now. My understanding of the game is better because of family and friends, plus a little bit of reading. I still have a long way to go and every year is a learning experience.
Thanks for some awesome memories over the years, San Diego Chargers! Now let’s bring on 2016!
Thank you for reading!