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!
Several former Chargers made headlines on Wednesday in a flurry of NFL news that hit the interwebs as teams start making moves for the start of their respective training camps.
It looks as if former Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler has finally found a new home. Via multiple reports, he signed today with the Arizona Cardinals. This is interesting for several reasons. First, the Cardinals and Chargers are scheduled to hold a joint practice before both teams meet August 19 for a preseason skirmish. It will be interesting to see if the Arizona coaching staff can get any productivity out of a player who had woefully underwhelmed in his last few seasons with the Bolts.
Former Charger running back Ryan Mathews is hurt again, and he didn’t even get hurt playing football. The Eagles announced today that they are placing him on the Non-Football-Injury list for an ankle injury he suffered last week when the team was on their CBA- mandated break before training camp. There are literally so many potential jokes here that I can’t even pick one. It looks as if parting ways with Mathews after the 2014 season was the right move for the Chargers. Mathews’ NFL career could possibly be in jeopardy.
In other NFL news, Nick Foles asked the Rams to be released and they obliged him. Via ESPN, the Rams released Foles after he agreed to take less guaranteed money if they let him walk. Foles was benched last season after going 4-5 with six touchdowns and throwing seven interceptions. The Rams drafted Foles’ replacement a few months ago with the 1st overall pick in Jared Goff from Cal.
The New York Jets’ first-round pick, linebacker Darron Lee, signed his contract Wednesday. Lee was one of three remaining first-round draft picks that had not been signed. The others are 49ers’ Joshua Garnett and, of course, Chargers’ Joey Bosa. All three players are represented by the same agent, working for Creative Artists Agency. All three players are fighting for no offset language in their contracts (essentially allowing them to be paid double if they are cut from the team that drafted them before their rookie contracts are up). Many first-round draft picks fight for no offset language, but few get it. It’s unclear whether Darron Lee’s contract has any offset language, but his signing is good news for Chargers fans that the Bosa signing could be next.
Personally, I think these contract disputes are less about the players and more about the “business” of the NFL. I don’t think college players start off as freshman saying, “I want to play in the NFL and have a contract with no offset language.” I think the players and players’ families are talked into these situations by profit-driven, money-hungry agents who take advantage of a vulnerable and critical time in a young man’s life for their own benefit. Hopefully Bosa signs soon and we can all forget about offset language until next year!
Who is excited for training camp to start?!