Well, this is certainly a difficult challenge!
Try naming just five of YOUR favorite men to suit up in lightning bolts! Can you do it?!
Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes one say “Yeah, I like him!” Does it matter if it is an “old school” guy where they played more smashmouth football? Or one from the “new” era where it seems like statistics seem to be the norm?
Either way, we all have our favorites for whatever reason. Maybe it’s how they seemingly just fly down the field as if on wings. Perhaps it’s how that one guy is just ALWAYS busting through the offensive line. Could it be the brashness or confidence that reaches us? You all know what you appreciate about the players you can’t wait to see take the field.
Here’s my list of my top five “old school” Chargers, though there were many choices!
Punter for the Chargers from 1994 to 2003, Bennett was formerly an Australian Rules football player. One always knew two things about him: he had the BIGGEST kicking leg and he did not shy away from hitting an opponent if need be. You just knew that Bennett was going to give his team the best field position possible! It was something to see when that ball left his foot and caught air!
Lionel “Little Train” James:
Gosh, this guy was special! He was only in the league for five short years, but he left his mark! Small in stature at 5’6″ and 171 pounds, James was THE smallest running back when he came into the NFL in 1984. His best season was in 1985 when he established three records for a running back.
James led the AFC with 86 receptions and set the bar at 2,583 all-purpose yards including 1,027 receiving yards. I remember watching him squirt through holes and run along the sideline. He had so much power in those legs and he was quick; defenders had difficulty stopping him. Sadly, his stellar career ended due to a degenerative hip injury.
Ha, gotcha on this one! Who could forget the Tongan TE who literally was responsible for scoring the go-ahead touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers to get the Bolts into the 1994 playoffs?! Yes, I know that Dennis Gibson broke up a Neil O’Donnell pass with mere seconds on the clock.
Pupunu had two stints in San Diego (1992-97, 1999). One of the other reasons I and other fans liked him was because of his touchdown celebration: he would pretend that he was opening a coconut and then hoisted it skyward as if drinking from it. I’d venture to say that some folks might have thought he was opening and drinking a beer!
Undoubtedly, the BEST nose tackle to ever suit up for the Blue and Gold. “Ja-mal” was a big, hulking man at 6’3′ and 348 pounds. He was a tackling machine and one of my favorite guys to watch on defense not named Junior Seau. Eleven seasons in San Diego saw the huge but quick man wreak havoc against opposing offenses by collecting 240 tackles, defend 18 passes, force three fumbles plus a lone touchdown and interception apiece.
He was not only an outstanding defensive lineman for the Chargers, he was also considered one of the most elite nose tackles in the NFL in his day. I would always get a kick out of watching that huge body shove it’s way into the middle. Jamal meant business!
As a defensive end, O’Neal was another adept tackler for the Bolts. Voted Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1986 he racked up 12.5 sacks prior to losing almost two years due to a knee injury. It was week seven of the ’88 season before he took the field again. His stats weren’t great that year (four sacks/28 tackles) but he was on his way. His performance that season made it possible for him to make his first Pro Bowl appearance.
By the time his career in San Diego was completed, per Pro Football Reference his numbers were: six Pro Bowl selections, 572 tackles, 105.5 sacks which made him the team leader in that category; forced 18 fumbles while recovering nine, two interceptions and a touchdown. O’ Neal is currently tied with Lawrence Taylor at 13th all-time as they both have 132.5 sacks in their careers. Yet another great defenseman for the Chargers.
Gill Byrd – Safety 1983-1992; played every position in the secondary (LCB/SS/FS/RCB), 42 INTs (4x in Top 10)
Stan Humphries – Quarterback 1992-1997; only QB to lead team to Super Bowl (’94), he also guided them to 10 fourth quarter comebacks to go with 12 game-winning drives. He retired as a result of sustaining four concussions in 22 months.
Charlie Joiner – Wide Receiver 1976-1986; aged 39 when he hung up his cleats, Joiner was one of Fouts’ favorite targets to the tune of 586 receptions, 9,203 yards and 47 TDs.
Kellen Winslow – Tight End 1979-1987; in addition to his memorable “Epic in Miami” performance, Winslow was a five-time Pro Bowler. He also placed in the Top 10 in these categories: receptions (4x), receiver (3x), and receiving TDs (4x). He had some gaudy numbers for a guy who only played in 109 games: 6,741 yards on 541 catches with 45 of those being TDs. After just eight years in the NFL, he, too, was forced to retire due to injury.
Keep an eye out for a list of my current players!
Thank you for reading!
The hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.
After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.
At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.
Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:
August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.
August 15, 2014: Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.
Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.
The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.
Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.
Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.
Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”
Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.
I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.
What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
Junior! Just hearing his name evokes all sorts of images and reminders of one of San Diego’s hometown heroes. He was a beloved and favorite son.
I never met Junior, but I’m sure that the term “hero” is probably one that would have made him uncomfortable. From what I have read about him, I think it would be safe to say that his response would be something along the lines of he was just showing his gratitude in his own simple way to a community and fanbase that idolized him when he was just doing his job. A job he loved so very much. A job that, ultimately, once he hung up his cleats, he could not reconcile being away from. It was a fundamental part of him that eventually caused him to take his own life.
May 2, 2012.
A day many Chargers fans would probably prefer not to remember.
As I write this, it is the four-year anniversary of Junior’s death. I vividly recall feeling the utmost shock when my husband told me, “Seau’s dead.” My brain could not fathom that one of THE most vibrant Chargers’ players was gone. He was so young. The circumstances were more mind-boggling when it was reported that he had shot himself in the chest. Later it was announced that he had deliberately done that to make certain his brain could be donated and posthumously examined for CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau, Jr. was born in San Diego and played his early football years in Oceanside. He lettered in three sports for the Oceanside Pirates. He accepted a football scholarship to the University of Southern California after graduating from Oceanside High School. Seau was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 after totaling 19 sacks and 27 tackles-for-loss as well as receiving All-American honors that year.
It is no wonder that the Bolts took the ferocious, hard-hitting linebacker with the fifth pick in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft. His play was like lightning. One couldn’t help but become engaged while watching Seau blitz the offensive line followed by his signature celebration. Junior would leap up, pump a fist and kick out a leg after dropping a ball carrier or quarterback. How could you not get caught up seeing the ferocity and excitement of Seau over the course of three hours?!
No. 55 brought so much vitality to not only the sport he lived and breathed, but to the people who watched his team because he was one of its stars. He was a very compassionate man who loved giving back to his community and fans. He WAS the San Diego Chargers. HE was the face of the franchise.
He wore lightning bolts on his shoulders from 1990 until 2003. That year, Seau signed with the Miami Dolphins and played there for three years. After Miami let him go, he came home to California.
I remember watching the sports news on August 15, 2006. He had signed a one-day contract with the Chargers. A press conference was held at Chargers Park for all of us to witness Junior’s announcement. The heart and soul of the defense for 13 seasons acknowledged his fellow players, coaches and team management. He stood at the podium, explaining his decision saying, “It’s pretty easy. When a team doesn’t want you or need you, retire, buddy.”, eventually to be followed by the words, “I’m not retiring. I am graduating.” Then he shocked us all four days later by signing a one-year contract with the New England Patriots, stating, “I’m going for my master’s now.”.
There were many honors bestowed upon Seau throughout his stellar 20-year career: 12 times voted to the Pro Bowl; NFL Defensive Player of the year (1992); Walter Payton Man of the Year and AFC Player of the Year (1994); two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year (1992 and 1998), just to name a few. In 1994, he helped lead San Diego to its lone Super Bowl berth, facing the the San Francisco 49ers. It was a blowout loss. In 2010, he was inducted into Oceanside High School’s Hall of Fame. On September 16, 2012, a mere four months after his death, he was honored by having his jersey No. 55 retired. The white, blue and gold banner with his name and number hangs and flies high above Qualcomm Stadium.
The best was yet to come, however.
August 8, 2015, the final accolade. It was bittersweet to watch as he was posthumously voted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The Bolts’ beloved linebacker finished his career with 1,524 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions.
Perhaps one of the most poignant descriptions of Seau was this one made by former NFL cornerback for the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers Willie Buchanon. He claimed, “Mr. San Diego, Mr. Oceanside, everything that deals with football in this community deals with Junior Seau.” This on the field of Seau’s high school alma mater, when his No. 11 jersey was retired there.
We all miss you, Junior Seau. In our minds, we can see you strumming your ukelele and singing your songs, or being in one of your favorite places, the ocean, riding those sweet waves as you surf to your heart’s content. In our hearts we recall your infectious smile, your enduring friendship, your deep compassion, your profound love of family.
Most of all, we will remember the inspiration that was you.
Rest in peace, buddy!!
Thanks for reading.
Four years gone. Too many years too soon. Junior Seau passed away four years ago today on May 2, 2012. It was a devastating blow to Chargers Nation and the San Diego community. It’s hard to believe the time has passed so quickly.
Seau’s lasting legacy will never fade away in the hearts and minds of the Chargers Nation and the city of San Diego. His persona on and off the field exemplified passion, hard work and enthusiasm. Seau played the game of football like no other linebacker we may ever see before or after him.
He played the game of life in ways we all should strive to do. He treated everyone like he had known them there whole lives. He always made time for family, friends and fans. Seau was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. It was a bittersweet ceremony. We all wish he could’ve been there to attend. Here’s to you buddy! You’re gone but will never be forgotten.
The Chargers have lost four of their first six games. The last two losses came at the very end of the game. The Bolts did what they needed to win three of the four games just to end up losing.
Before getting into this season, let’s look at another season that they were really good at losing.
The 2000 season!
Yes, that was the year that the Chargers went 1-15. San Diego had a horrible offense and a solid defense. The offense was “led” by Ryan Leaf, Jim Harbaugh and Moses Moreno (oh yeah, that guy). Not exactly a high-quality trio of quarterbacks. They were unable to secure wins, partially due to 30 interceptions, 53 sacks of the team’s quarterbacks, eight missed field goals and only 31 touchdowns scored.
The defense, led by the great Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison, kept them in the games with a total of 16 interceptions, 39 sacks and four touchdowns.
The Bolts had three blowouts that year, but they were never shut out. In fact, nine of their 15 losses were by 10 points or less. An even crazier stat, six of their losses were by three points or less. Let that sink in!
So here we are in 2015, and the Bolts are pretty much the exact opposite of the 2000 Chargers. They have a great passing offense, which is ranked 1st in the NFL, led by Philip Rivers and his 2,116 passing yards. While it is great that the Chargers rank first in total offense and in passing yards, they are ranked 29th in rushing. The offense is just not balanced with the lack of a good running game. Being balanced is more important than passing for a lot of yards.
The defense is also unbalanced. They have shown some good plays but also some stuff that has Chargers fans throwing their arms in the air in anger. They are ranked 14th overall thanks to their pass defense, which is ranked 7th. The rush defense, on the other hand, is ranked 29th.
So as you can see, they can’t run the ball on offense, and they can’t stop the run on defense.
The second game of the season against the Bengals was the first game of the year that the Chargers “did a good job of losing.” Keenan Allen muffed the punt return on the Bolts’ first drive which lead to a Bengals’ touchdown. Down 7-3 in the 1st quarter, the Chargers recover a fumble by running back Jeremy Hill just to have Rivers fumble the ball on 3rd and 2.
Two more opportunities were given to the Chargers with a missed field goal by Bengals’ kicker Mike Nugent and another fumble by Hill. San Diego answered those opportunities with a field goal and a missed field goal. In typical Rivers’ fashion, Philip threw 20 straight completions in an attempt to take the lead and the win. Down 19 to 24 and 1:09 left on the clock, No. 17 threw an interception to end the game in a loss.
The Chargers got beat fair and square by the Vikings, so there is no need to look at that game as a missed opportunity to secure a win. They deserved every second of that beating in Week 3.
In Week 5, the Chargers hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was out with a knee injury and Chargers’ tight end Antonio Gates was back after a four-game suspension. The Bolts came out strong, scoring a touchdown to No. 85 on their first drive in under three minutes.
The first half ended up being a little boring, as the Chargers kept a small lead of 7-3.
The pass defense kept back-up quarterback Michael Vick one-dimensional and the rush defense was able to keep them out of the end zone in the first three quarters.
A pick-six by Antwon Blake put the Steelers ahead and the home team answered with a field goal to tie the game. The 4th quarter came and the Bolts took at an early lead with another touchdown to Gates.
Vick was having a terrible passing game until his 72-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton once again tied up the contest.
The Chargers then took the lead with a finger-crossing 54-yard field goal by Josh Lambo. The game was put in the hands of the defense with just a little over two minutes left. The defense then allowed them to drive 80 yards. Fans watched is utter disbelief as Le’Veon Bell got the tip of the ball to cross the plane just as the time ran out, giving the Steelers the victory.
Another game that the Bolts should have won but somehow found a way to lose.
The team from America’s finest city traveled to Green Bay in Week 6, making the trip as the underdogs to a 5-0 team led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The first quarter was ugly. The Packers were leading the 17-3 after a 65-yard run by running back James Starks. Rookie running back Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball in that quarter, but the offense was able to recover it and get a field goal.
On the next drive they got into the red zone and went for it on 4th and 3 on the Green Bay 12-yard line; a gutsy move by a usually conservative Mike McCoy. They were unable to score.
A second fumble by Gordon in the second quarter, recovered by Green Bay, put a stop to the Chargers’ running game.
The Air Coryell days were back with Rivers taking to the air, trying to win the game. The Packers had no answers for Rivers’ passing game even with a sketchy offensive line. The Chargers defense did alright, allowing the offense to have 38 minutes of possession and forcing a Packers field goal to make the score 27-20. San Diego’s signal caller was having a hell of a game, carrying the team on his back and once again found the red zone.
The upset of the year was in the making with the Chargers with a first and goal on the Packers three-yard line with only 33 seconds on the clock. The Packers defense that had allowed Rivers to pass for 503 yards without an interception, stopped the Bolts from getting into the end zone on four downs.
A defeated Rivers laid on the field in disbelief. We would never know if the Chargers could have won the game in overtime. San Diego once again had shown most of the country how to lose in the final seconds of an NFL game.
There are a lot of factors that lead the Chargers to lose games that they could/should have won. Interceptions and fumbles by the offense never help in securing a win, and neither is not gaining points when the defense causes a turnover. Missed field goals, missed tackles and missed opportunities from the defense leave a lotto be desired, negating any positive work done by the offensive side of the ball.
The season is still early, and the Chargers have the easier part of their schedule coming up. If the Bolts can eliminate stupid penalties, turnovers, cause turnovers and find some semblance of a running game, they could win their next five games.
The hearts of the fans are always beating at such a rapid pace at the end of these games. Save our hearts and secure these wins early.
Thanks for reading.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com provides a scouting reports for Thursday’s opener against the Cowboys.
Eric Williams of ESPN.com talks about how former NFL receiver Eric Moulds is working a s a coaching intern for the Chargers.
Mark Maske of The Washington Post states that some NFL owners support the Chargers and Raiders over the Rams when it comes to relocating to Los Angeles.
(Photo Credit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame)
Are you kidding me? I mean, seriously…..
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has already received a ton of scrutiny due to its initial stance on allowing Sydney Seau to speak during Junior Seau’s induction. Although they have managed to change things a round a bit, working Sydney into the process, they have done what I believe to be a major mistake, again.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame, as in years past, has a banner representing all of the inductees into its prestigious hall.
I feel that it’s safe to say that there has never been, or will ever be, an NFL player that would not strive to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Due to my anger regarding this subject, I’ll be short and get right to the point.
The banner with the Hall of Fame inductees features Junior Seau in a Patriots’ jersey.
What in the hell are you thinking? Who came up with this idea and who decided that was the way to go? What a kick in the mouth to Chargers fans everywhere. This makes absolutely no sense at all. Before I say something I wouldn’t say in front of my children, I’m going to stop writing this article now.
This is a travesty and an embarrassment. I am not a fan of anyone losing their job, but the people being this decision-making process should be fired immediately.
It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been over six months since we have had football consistently on the television every Sunday. It makes you wonder how one even managed that long without it. Well, we can all finally say that the 2015 NFL season is upon us, and boy is it long overdue.
It has been a very noisy offseason for San Diego Charger fans with stadium location chatter and player contract discussions. For Bolt fans, it’s pure entertainment considering thirty-one other fan base’s sat around twiddling their thumbs while watching lousy baseball highlights for the last few months. Speaking of baseball, sorry, Padres, Chargers football is back.
Back to football – how can you not feel the excitement? It’s the season for pumpkin spiced beer, autumn weather, and tailgate parties. I get all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it. As a fan of a west coast team, I thoroughly enjoy waking up early on Sundays to start my football prep: breakfast and adult beverage time. That being said, it’s always five o’clock somewhere.
This Sunday kicks off the 2015 preseason when the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings go head to head in the NFL’s Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio. This is also the game where the great Junior Seau, former Charger and current Hall of Fame inductee, will be featured in the enshrinement ceremony. After all the hype, it turns out that Seau’s daughter, Sydney Seau, will in fact be speaking on his behalf. A big thank you to the NFL for getting their ducks in order on this one.
So, even though this weekend is a complete tease for all football fans across the nation, it’s something to remind us that we are so close to the season opener and another great year of trash talking, name calling and all around good fun.
‘Tis the season, everyone. I just hope you are ready for it!
Briana Soltis (@BrianaSoltis)
Word got out last week that the NFL was not going to permit the Seau family to attend or present San Diego Chargers legend Junior Seau into the Hall of Fame. The NFL Hall-Of-Fame enshrinement ceremony will take place on August 8th.
Many subplots surround this story. In a tragic end to a great story, Junior took his own life and it was later revealed he suffered from CTE. In medical terms, CTE is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
This is the definition of CTE, as taken directly from the Boston University CTE center:
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma.
This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.
This and other medical information is something the NFL has long had access to but neglected to use, hence, the eventual settlement. The concussions incurred from Seau’s relentless playing style as one of if not the league’s best middle linebackers in his time period is the cause of his CTE. However, Seau was not once diagnosed with a concussion during his playing career.
Over the last three years the effects of concussions and a greater emphasis on player safety has become a priority. In January 2014, a 675-million concussion settlement was reached in litigation between the NFL vs. retired NFL players and their families. The settlement was rejected by federal judges, then ultimately became an uncapped monetary settlement in April 2015, ensuring all retired players requiring money for their illnesses were accommodated.
Junior himself said he wanted his daughter Sydney to induct him into the Hall-of-Fame. The NFL told Sydney Seau she could speak at the induction ceremony then eventually changed their minds. The reason for their reversal of course is a five-year-old policy declaring families can’t speak for players inducted posthumously. Seau ended his life in 2012.
The NFL is allowing a five-minute highlight reel to be played as his induction piece, 60% longer than the two-minute highlight package given to other players.
Hold your applause…
The league is obviously afraid of what the family would have to say. After all, the family does have a lawsuit filed against the NFL in light of the CTE findings and the NFL’s hiding of such information from its players. It’s a legitimate fear from the league. The last thing they want is family members creating a scene over their inductee, who literally gave his life to the game. It only takes one to ruin it for the rest.
That’s never happened. It wouldn’t with Sydney Seau.
The Seau family wouldn’t want the last public image of Junior and their family to be a rambling, chaotic diatribe against the NFL. Sydney Seau reveres her father and would add nothing but class to the proceedings in a tribute fitting of an NFL legend.
The NFL also mentioned time constraints.
For those of you who haven’t watched an NFL Hall-Of-Fame induction ceremony, it lasts for five to six hours. The inductees take the podium and talk…and talk…and talk. They start at childhood and almost give a year by year synopsis of their life. These speeches can and usually do go for an hour or more. What we see on Sportscenter are the few seconds of material that won’t put us to sleep. Let’s start with cutting their podium time if you want a streamlined show. Time is logic almost as ludicrous as the family induction rule.
Five minutes isn’t worthy of a man who is arguably one of the greatest middle ever linebackers to compete in the NFL. Five minutes isn’t worthy of a 12-time Pro Bowler, NFL Defensive player of the year, member of the NFL’s 40th and 50th anniversary team, and 1990’s All-Decade team.
Five minutes isn’t worthy of a man who, in his greatest game, was literally single-handedly responsible for the Chargers 1994 AFC Championship game victory over the favored Pittsburgh Steelers. In that game, Seau recorded 16 tackles playing with a pinched nerve in his neck that left him without the feeling in his left arm.
In reality, the NFL is missing a golden opportunity. In a perfect world, this is what would happen. Sydney Seau would get fifteen minutes of podium time, short and sweet by HOF standards. She would have time to lovingly speak from her heart and for the family. She would make no mention of the CTE, just of what Junior meant as a son, brother, father and community activist.
After Sydney’s’ speech is concluded she would be joined at the podium by Roger Goodell, who would lead the audience in another round of applause. After a warm hug and a few seconds posing for photographers, Goodell himself would speak about CTE and what the NFL is doing to improve the safety of its players. He could then take a moment to offer his condolences to Sydney and use Junior’s life as a message to the NFL to get players treatment now so this doesn’t happen in the future.
Simply put, the NFL is hiding something they need to be bringing more attention to and this is a great forum to address it.
Standing next to Sydney Seau in a show of solidarity would send a strong message. It would speak to the retired players and legends in attendance. It would speak to over 4000 players who have lawsuits filed against the NFL right now. It’s an acknowledgement of the league’s compassion for the players that made the NFL what it is today. It’s a chance to get some good press amidst the ongoing Deflategate scandal and endless suspensions surrounding the upcoming season. It’s a chance to abolish a flawed rule and a chance to increase the luster of the shield instead of tarnishing the families behind it.
Tell the NFL how you feel. Use the hashtag.
On March 13, 2015, a ripple of concern and suspicion began when the Chargers announced that they would be bringing in quarterback (QB) Marcus Mariota for a private workout. Why bring in a QB who is expected to be drafted far before the Chargers first round pick at 17? Are the Chargers really looking to sign Mariota just to have him sit behind Philip Rivers for the next three years? Is Tom Telesco just playing pre-draft games with the other general managers? Or, are the Bolts actually considering a change?
As time went by, the ripple gained momentum and grew to the size of La Jolla Shores breakers. Social media outlets began throwing out conspiracy theories that were mostly shot down as, “crazy talk”. But as the days wore on, more and more twists were added to the plot. A trade with Tennessee for the number two pick in the draft was being discussed. At number two, the Chargers would have whomever the Buccaneers did not choose between Florida St. quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. To old school Chargers fans, this scenario makes them squirm as they recall the weeks before the 1998 draft when the Bolts picked second and assured themselves whoever was left between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. Not to say that Mariota will suffer the same fate as Leaf, but that is the thing about the draft: you just never know.
Well, those breakers became the size of Hawaii’s Bonzai Pipeline, when more and more dots were connected by the local and national media, along with sports talk radio, as they started digging around. Now the complete hypothetical plan was laid out and it actually seemed plausible! Rumblings from Chargers fans ranged from, “If they trade Rivers, I’m done”, to “Now it’s obvious that the Chargers want to move to Los Angeles”, to “It’s all talk! The Chargers will never trade Rivers!”
Just when you think it is safe to go back in the water, a tidal wave hits the shores of San Diego. Kevin Acee, of the UT San Diego, interviewed Rivers and received some discouraging answers from the Pro Bowl quarterback. When asked if he was working with the Chargers on extending his contract past 2015, Rivers said that he was not. He vowed to honor his contract and play out the next season in San Diego, but would not commit to re-signing with the Bolts for the future. Rivers went on to say, “I guess things could change, but with all the uncertainty in many aspects, I don’t see it changing before camp gets here, and when camp gets here I’m even more certain to play it (his contract) out.” He went on to say, “The good thing is that I’m not under contract in a year where we’d potentially be in Los Angeles.” That does not sound like a player who is locked into playing out his career with the Chargers.
So what are those, “many aspects” that Rivers is referring to? To figure that out, all one has to do is take a look at the current situation with the team, the stadium, his family, and yes, the future of the quarterback position for the San Diego Chargers. Not to get ahead of ourselves, let us take a look at the scenario that has been painted by the media, and fans, that might explain why there is so much speculation about the Mariota workout and the upcoming draft.
The current version of the Rivers trade theory is that he will be traded to Tennessee for the second pick in the draft. With most around the NFL believing that Tampa Bay will pick Winston number one, Mariota would then go to the Chargers at number two. This trade would work for a few different reasons. One, Rivers said that there are “many aspects” to consider before signing a contract to keep him in San Diego past 2015. One of those aspects would certainly be if the Bolts were staying in San Diego, or bolting to Los Angeles (LA). Perhaps Rivers does not want to leave his home in San Diego just to move his wife and seven kids to LA. If he is going to move anywhere, it would make more sense to move to the South, near where he grew up in Alabama. Tennessee is far closer to Alabama and the lifestyle is far more similar to Alabama than LA.
Furthermore, a trade to Tennessee would reunite Rivers with his former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the current head coach for the Titans. Rivers has one of his best years as a pro with Whisenhunt leading the way. Rivers would already know the offense and should be able to step right in and feel comfortable running the show.
Finally, there is the aspect of money. Rivers did not have a great year, by his standards, in 2014. Now would not a beneficial time for him to talk extension. If he plays one more season, with a vastly improved line, he may put up career numbers and be able to demand more money. Yes, Rivers is a nice guy, but even nice guys want to get paid. He does have seven mouths to feed after all.
Okay, all of that actually makes sense for why Rivers would look to leave. How about the Chargers? Why would they entertain the thought of trading away someone who is arguably a future Hall of Fame QB when he certainly has productive years ahead? Well, there are some reasonable answers to those questions as well.
First of all, Rivers is 33 years old and has never taken the Bolts to the Super Bowl. Two other quarter backs in the same draft class, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, have won rings. Now football is a team sport, so you cannot put all of the blame on Rivers for that, so that cannot be the problem. Next, the Chargers have had trouble protecting Rivers and all the hits he has sustained have definitely taken a toll on the aging QB. Perhaps bringing in a mobile QB, like Mariota, will enable the Chargers to sustain drives when the offensive line breaks down. Then again, with the signing of Orlando Franklin and the opportunity to draft a lineman in the first round ahead, the line should be greatly improved. Finally, perhaps the Chargers feel that Mariota has a skill set that will give them a true franchise quarterback for the next 10 to 15 years, while saving cap space by getting out from underneath Rivers’ contract.
That brings us to the stadium issue, which could possibly be the main reason the Chargers would entertain the thought of trading away the face of their franchise. Although team president, Dean Spanos, continues to say that he would like to keep the team in San Diego, there have been few signs that he is interested in working with the recently created Citizens Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG). In fact, twice the Chargers have had Carson related stories come out on the same days when CSAG members have held events in San Diego. Perhaps the thinking is that if the Chargers move to LA, they want to be the, “new look” Chargers, and Rivers is too closely associated with San Diego for that to happen.
So is it a good idea to get rid of Rivers? Not a chance! With Rivers, you are not only talking about the face of the team, but also the emotional leader. You are talking about a guy who gives players hope. How many times have you heard, “As long as we have number 17, we have a chance?” You will not get that kind of leadership from a rookie QB. Mariota may have a successful career in the NFL, or he may not. There are no guarantees (see Ryan Leaf). Many experts feel that he will be a work in progress at the next level. He needs to learn how to lead a huddle and take snaps from under center; two things that he did not have to do in college. Yes, these are teachable skills, but do you want your starting QB to be learning the basics while in live action? Seems like an awfully big risk for a team that has a viable answer for the position for the next few years.
Finally, trading Rivers would be a poor PR move. That would be “public relations”, not Philip Rivers. The Bolts have long been known for treating their veterans poorly. Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Vincent Jackson are all examples of players that were shown the door without so much as a, “thank you”. If the new leadership of the Chargers wants to break that cycle and be embraced by the community, they need to handle situations with class and show star players that they appreciate them. It seems a team that may need a large percentage of citizens to vote for a stadium would not want to anger their fans. That is unless they do not really want to stay in San Diego. Even if they do let Rivers go, trading him now is not the answer. Let him play out his last year and see what happens.
What do you think? Is it time to look toward the future? Or, is 2015 a must-win season so that the city will embrace the team and vote for a stadium? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.