New England Patriots
All of a sudden Tampa, Florida has become a destination location and possibly the hottest sports city in the country. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in the NHL. The Tampa Bay Rays made it to the MLB World Series before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. Currently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most popular team in the NFL since the *ahem* GOAT, Tom Brady, decided to take his talents to the Sunshine State this past March.
Since his departure from New England to Tampa Bay became official, big name players as well as veterans who USED to be big names have run to jump on the ever-growing Bucs bandwagon with the 12 license plate. As recently as last season, the only reason anyone spoke of Tampa Bay aside from fantasy stats were to bash those horrid crimson and pewter uniforms. Now, they top the marquee every football Sunday. It started with Brady’s ultimate weapon from New England, tight end Rob Gronkowski, coming out of retirement to put the pads back on. The signings continued with running backs Lesean McCoy and Leonard Fournette. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh signed a one-year deal. Linebackers Shaquil Barrett (franchised) and Jason Pierre-Paul (two-year deal) also among others sticking around waiting for rings.
Enter the newest, most high-profile name not named Brady to join the team in free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown is set to return to the field after an eight-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Currently in the midst of an ongoing civil lawsuit for alleged rape and sexual misconduct; Brown brings as much baggage as he does skills to the panhandle. Other teams considered him before passing after digging into his background. A good look into that background can be seen in the accompanying video below.
Brown has played for two of the best, most well-run franchises in the history of the league. New England and Pittsburgh have been models of stability and consistency in the last two decades. The Patriots have had one coach, Bill Belichick, in twenty years. They run a notoriously tight ship, have hoisted six Super Bowl trophies and have had great success taking problem players from other teams and turning them into model citizens. The Steelers have had only three coaches since 1969 and current Head Coach Mike Tomlin has been with the team since 2007. Conversely, the Raiders have been a disaster since current Head Coach Jon Gruden was traded by the then Oakland Raiders to Tampa Bay and got his only Super Bowl ring at the end of that same season, against the Raiders, in 2002. Now on his second stint with the team since returning to his former position in 2018, Gruden and the Raiders are looking to atone for the last 18 years of mistakes since the Gruden trade in the first season at their new home in Las Vegas.
Brown got the longest leash in Pittsburgh. He was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round in 2010. He became a star as a Steeler. Eventually, his ego got too big and his teammates, coaches and management were not above Brown putting them on blast in the press and on social media. He was finally traded away to Oakland in 2019. Brown didn’t last a season in New England or Oakland. He couldn’t make it work in (arguably) the two best run organizations in the league, nor could he make it stick on a team where the inmates run the asylum like Oakland. He’s received multiple chances at redemption because on the field, he’s the best wide receiver in the game when his head is right. The problem is his head hasn’t been right in two seasons and counting. He played ONE game for the Patriots and angered the Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock to the point where Brown was cut before he even played a regular season game! From the showing up late/unexcused to practice and meetings to allegedly assaulting women on the staff to disciplinary benchings and ‘fake’ injuries to blasting his own teammates, coaches and fans; Brown has burned every bridge he’s crossed, save for one.
The Tom Brady bridge.
Brady had started building a rapport with Brown in New England before Browns’ off-field transgressions reared their ugly head and he was unceremoniously cut from the team. In their one game together, the duo combined on four of five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Obviously, Brady went to bat for Brown with Bucs management and Head Coach Bruce Arians, who has also been the topic of Browns’ venom when the two were together in Pittsburgh. Since the team added Brown last week, Brown is reportedly living in Bradys’ home and according to Arians, is in great physical shape. Now wearing number 81, Brown is now practicing with the team and ready to play in his first game this Sunday as the Buccaneers host Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. This can be a pivotal game of NFC Superpowers as both teams have only lost two games on the season. The Saints are 5-2 and Buccaneers are 6-2, respectively.
Can AB be a law-abiding citizen for once in a long while; long enough to make an impact? Can he validate Bradys’ trust in him to his new team and be the once-unstoppable force he was once? Will he fall in line, come in early and stay late and be punctual? Will be again be the locker room cancer he has been over the last five years and get run out of town before his already abbreviated season is done? Brady and company already look to have found the magic as they have raced out to a 6-2 record. Is Brown the final, missing piece to carry Tampa Bay, that new sports Mecca, to a championship? To this writer, the answer is a resounding NO. The Bucs were better off without him and the dude will not grow up until everything is taken from him in the form of a jail cell. At this point, Antonio Brown is emotional napalm, unstable and ready to explode at any moment. Get your popcorn ready.
Stay tuned for the next episode of As the Bandwagon Turns….
The Greg One
Photo credits to Clutchpoints.com
After a dismal 2016-2017 season, it is easy to start drawing conclusions. If any team has any sort of negative turnaround there starts to become speculation because well, it’s easy. One of the main questions that circles the Arizona Cardinals is, Does Carson Palmer have enough left in the tank? In an interview with “Tiki and Tierney” on CBS Sports, head coach Bruce Arians had something to say about that.
“Physically, body-wise, it’s like he’s 28 right now,” Arians said. “Sports science is amazing right now. He can play easily until he’s 42 if he wants to. He is hungry as hell right now. I wouldn’t let him go in OTAs. It was like taking candy away from a kid.” Arians continued.
As a coach dubbed “the quarterback whisperer”. I think he knows what he is talking about. Just in case, let’s see the numbers from last season. Carson finished the year with 26 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, amassing a total of 4,233 yards on the season. He finished the year ranking ninth in yards and tenth in touchdowns among active quarterbacks. So even though the Cards had a bad year, he is still a top-ten quarterback.
Palmer is not stopping the Cardinals from reaching the next level. There needs to be a certain level of veteran leadership on any elite team. The only people that are in the way of that happening is themselves. Football is just as much of a mental game as it is physical.
Coach Arians blames the entire season on one game, the week one loss against the New England Patriots. Why?
“I think a lot of it goes back to the New England game,” Arians said. “Had we won the game like we should have, with the field goal, I think the whole season is different. Why we didn’t finish the (Week 4) Ram win? Those first two losses at home set us way back for the season, because you had to fight from the back end of the hole the rest of the way.”
The issue for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 was not Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, the offensive line, or the defensive line. It was the inability to win close ball games. If Arizona won those two close games like they should have against a Tom Brady-less Pats team and the over-hyped Los Angeles Rams, the Cardinals would have made the post season as wild card team.
The 2016 season was a fluke for the Arizona Cardinals. Even with it being a fluke, they still finished second in the NFC West. This season they are going in with a completely new mindset and after some exciting picks in the draft and because of that, the Arizona Cardinals and their fans will be able to forget about last season completely.
What is it that the 1991-1998 Chicago Bulls, 1993-1996 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-current Golden State Warriors, 2011-current Arizona Rattlers and the New York Yankees have in common besides championships? They created a culture that breeds championships by rewarding not only performance on the playing surface, but also made it rewarding to be a part of that franchise as a whole.
“We have to have a commonality and purpose. We have to understand that each of us is dependent on the success of the others in the organization to reach the goals we’re trying to accomplish. It’s never an easy thing.” -Rick Welts, President and COO of the Golden State Warriors speaking about the importance of off court culture.
See the Warriors built a culture of accountability, oftentimes we see in pop culture and maybe on our own sports teams how just one players ego can completely destroy any hopes of a championship. Yes, in sports we reward the most valuable players, but if you really think about what TRULY makes those players valuable, a lot of times you realize that they are not selfish and they focus on building up their teammates to their level of play. Notice the difference between the 2015 and 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, they tanked in the 2015 finals following the famous “i’m the best player in the world” speech from Lebron. Then the following year, they began to realize everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, in turn causing them to perform the greatest comeback in NBA finals history.
Sports are not numbers games, one can not predict the champion based off of numbers and averages. Why? That is because sports are played by humans, not robots. Numbers show the past results, but not the future. Humans are able to adapt and change based on their given situations. One example of this, is a team that was run completely based off of numbers, did not win a championship. People may have seen the movie called, Moneyball. The film is about the 2002 Oakland A’s, a team that needed a way to start filling seats and rebuild after losing a few of their star players. So they turn to analytics which wins them the division. However, the team that actually ended up winning the world series that year? The Anaheim Angels. A team that did not rely 100 percent off of pure numbers and who truly understood that there was a human element to the game.
So, what sort of things are needed to actually create championship culture?
Jeff Janssen, owner of the Janssen Sports Leadership Foundation and someone who also has a Masters in sport psychology, studied all of the historic championship franchises in all sports found six components.
- Credible Leaders
- This does not only apply to coaches, it applies to everyone who holds a leadership role in an organization. From managers to the CEO, there needs to be someone who can move on and take credit when there is a mistake. It is terrible to have a leader that tries to push on failures to everyone but themselves. Bad leaders, create losing seasons.
- Clear and Compelling Vision
- Yes, every teams ultimate goal is to win a championship. This component is more about buying into a vision, for a case study, please look into the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
- Core Values
- There is an old song that talks about, “If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Even in sports this rings true, in order to create culture, there must be non negotiable values.
- Standards of Behavior
- Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, “A major part of becoming a team is the establishment and collective acceptance of your standards, based on your team’s makeup and centered on your unique goal. Once a group of individuals formulates and agrees to their standards, they become united, single-minded in purpose.”
- Aligned Systems
- Jeff Janssen writes, “Championship Cultures create several specific systems for selection, enculturation, execution, evaluation, recognition, correction, and succession. All of these various systems are developed, tweaked, and perfected over time to promote and support the Vision, Values, and Standards of your program on a daily basis. By developing and aligning your systems, you build a sustainable, self-perpetuating, virtuous cycle that ensures you get, develop, and keep the right kind of people and practices within your culture.”
- Committed and Unified Team Members
- This one should be self-explanatory, if someone does not buy into the vision? They will not perform to their full potential.
These six traits can be seen through any championship organization. Is it important to have good players? Yes, but numbers do not tell the whole story, and sometimes players who are terrible in the club house, can kill championship hopes without even playing one down.
On Thursday, the New England Patriots officially extended the contract of wide receiver Julian Edelman. The nine-year veteran received a two-year, $11 million dollar deal with $9 million in guarantees, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. This season was the last of his current contract. Edelman would’ve been a free agent next offseason and possibly could have been able to earn more money on the open market.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) June 8, 2017
Adding to @RapSheet on Edelman: $5m signing bonus and $4m in reachable incentives. So two years, $15m max.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 8, 2017
The Patriots are loading up at wide receiver for another Super Bowl run. Add Edelman, 31, to new addition Brandin Cooks, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola and Tom Brady will have no shortage of playmakers out wide. By the way, Rob Gronkowski is fully healthy and participating in all team workouts.
The Evil Empire of the NFL is only getting better….
The Greg One
Former New England Patriots running back Legarrette Blount has signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday. With incentives, the deal can reach $2.8 million. A little over a week ago, the Patriots issued a veteran free agent tender on Blount, limiting his time frame to sign with s new team by July 22. After that date, he could only play for the Patriots. The end result now is New England will receive a compensatory draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Blount led the NFL with 18 touchdowns last season, mostly of the short-range, goal line variety. At 6-feet, 250-pounds, Blount is a human bowling ball who has made a name for himself as a steamroller no one wants to tackle.
Philadelphia is looking to feature Blount as their lead running back and use their smaller backs such as Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood as complimentary pieces around him. The Eagles also spent a fourth-round pick on NCAA record-breaking San Diego State star running back Donnell Pumphrey.
Per Over The Cap, the Eagles are cash-strapped with only $1.2 million in cap space. Multiple local and national reports indicate the odd man out looks to be running back Ryan Mathews, who missed the final games of the 2016 season on IR with a neck injury. Cutting Mathews will free $4 million in cap space.
This is a great get for Philadelphia as Blount is as close to automatic as you can get in third- and fourth-and-short situations. He’s done well for himself as he’s collected two Super Bowl rings in his three seasons in New England. As everyone outside of Boston is likely to agree, one less weapon for Tom Brady and the Patriots is definitely a good thing.
Currently, many NFL fans have been faced with a very difficult decision. Now that my team has moved away, or will soon be moving away, who should I root for? It seems that the answer should be obvious: Root for anyone you want!
But, alas, it is not that simple.
Unfortunately, right now in “Chargers Country” there is a bit of a civil war. Long-time Chargers fans who feel deeply hurt by their team moving to Los Angeles are not only rooting against the Bolts, they have elevated owner Dean Spanos to the level of Osama Bin Laden on their list of most evil men who have ever walked the earth.
All I have to say to those people is that I understand and feel their pain. I was born and raised in San Diego and I certainly get why you feel abandoned, bullied, and misled. I especially feel for those who knocked on doors, gathered signatures, joined fan groups, et cetera. I also feel for those who live in the county and did not get a chance to vote.
On the other side are the fans who believe that they can move on despite their dislike for Mr. Spanos. They just want to watch and enjoy NFL football and not have the same passion for any other team than their Chargers. Yes, Spanos benefits from their support, but they don’t really care because they put the players above the ownership. To those people I would say that I am in your boat. I have come to grips with the fact that my team has a very flawed owner, but I will continue to root for my Bolts.
Now the interesting group….the undecided. These are Chargers fans who just can’t make up their mind. Should they remain Chargers fans? Or, should they shop for a new team? If they decide to move on to greener pastures, what team should they choose? For those people, I offer some facts to ponder. I hope they help. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular teams in the NFL and why they may or may not deserve your loyalty, love, and hard-earned dollars.
New England Patriots
If you are looking to celebrate championships, this may be the team for you. At least while they still have head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, I would never bet against them. But hold on just one minute before you choose the Pats. Consider the fact that they have been caught cheating multiple times. Everything from filming other teams signals to deflating footballs. I won’t even go into the Aaron Hernandez story. They like to say that they push the envelope. In reality, they rip the envelope open and rely on their popularity and extremely wealthy owner, Bob Kraft, to save them in the end. So far, their plan has been successful. So, you need to ask yourself if you can root for a team that has possible morality issues and one that has most likely been one of your most hated teams for years? If you can get past all this, enjoy the next few years as a winner.
I can’t even believe that I am listing the Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders as a viable option, but here they are. Yes, I have heard many ex-Chargers fans saying that they are switching their loyalties to the Raiders. As always, I believe that is their choice and they are welcome to it. I just don’t understand it.
Let’s be fair. The Raiders are an up and coming team that honestly has a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy within the next two or three years. That can be enticing to any waffling fan. They have a great, young quarterback, outstanding pass rushers, and exciting play makers. All that being said, they are still the Raiders! If you have been loyal to the Chargers for any length of time, you most likely have a deep-seated hatred for the Silver and Black. But let’s put rivalry behind us for a moment. In my opinion, it makes absolutely no sense for a Chargers fan to jump ship and join Raiders Nation. You are mad at Dean Spanos for not being loyal to his fans, yet you are willing to give Mark Davis a pass? The Raiders have a long history of screwing their fans. They went from Oak-town to Los Angeles (sound familiar), back to Oakland and now they are moving to Vegas. All along they have used cities like Irwindale and Los Angeles as leverage to use against the city of Oakland to force them to build them a new stadium (sound familiar?). It is quite confusing to me why anyone who quotes loyalty as the reason that they are leaving their team would go to a team that is quite possibly the least loyal franchise in sports. But that is just me.
Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos
Good teams. Quality ownership. Chance to win in the future. The only real negative would be that you would be going from hating them to loving them just because you are mad at Dean Spanos. If you can sleep at night, go for it.
New Orleans Saints
I have heard other Chargers fans say that they are going to follow the Saints because of Drew Brees. Yes, Brees is great and he was a fan favorite (more-so after leaving) in San Diego. The problem is that he will only be around for a short time and then you are stuck with this decision all over again. Do you stick with a team you don’t have any passion for? Or, do you become a free agent again.
Los Angeles Rams
Again, I don’t get it. Yes, I have heard the argument that supporting the Rams would be a throat-punch to Dean Spanos. I suppose there is some validity to that. But once again, we are talking about supporting an owner who abandoned his fans. Yet another owner who sees the bottom line as dollar signs, rather than loyalty to those who love their team. Also, an organization that has gone from Los Angeles, to Anaheim, to St. Louis, and back to Los Angeles. Once again, it is your right to make this choice, but to me, your logic is flawed.
If you are old like me, you may think of the first time that they fans in St. Louis lost a team. It was the Cardinals, not the Rams. I’ll admit that the Cardinals have been in Arizona for quite a while now and do not seem to be heading out anytime soon. I think you are safe to root for them, if location is your biggest concern. Arizona isn’t even that far to drive if you want to make an annual trip or two to see a home game. They will also play in Los Angeles at least once a year. I don’t have any reason to like the Cards, but if you do, knock yourself out.
“Sixburgh” knows how to win championships. They must be a fun franchise to watch. They play at a high level year in and year out. They have cool looking uniforms and a unique helmet with a logo on just one side. They do have a history of paying guys who have some pretty serious “character flaws”, but most teams in the NFL can say the same. My favorite memory of the Steelers is watching them go down to defeat to my Chargers in the AFC Championship game, just a week after producing their own Super Bowl video. Makes me smile every time I think of it.
“America’s Team”! You are most likely an American, so it makes sense to like the Cowboys. Right? Seems to me that the Cowboys are one of the most polarizing teams in the NFL. People either love them or hate them. Either way, they have a very solid team and have a real chance to be playing on the next several Super Bowl Sundays. I’m sure there is room on the Cowboys bandwagon (or wagon train in their case). Perhaps before long, you will find yourself as passionate about that star as you were the lightning bolt. Do remember though, owner Jerry Jones came up with the framework for the Chargers and Rams to share a stadium in LA.
This choice was interesting to me. It came up the other day on social media that an ex-Chargers fan was going to root for the Eagles going forward because of Darren Sproles and the recent drafting of Donnell Pumphrey (RB out of San Diego State University). I have no real argument against this choice. Perhaps by the time Pumphrey concludes what is hopefully an illustrious career with the Eagles, the new fans will have found a way to attach themselves to Philly and will continue on. Perhaps not.
This could be the flavor of the month, or it could be a legit choice for free agent fans. Everyone seems to love their owner and there aren’t many negative stories plaguing the roster. They were Super Bowl runner-ups last year (they should have won) as well. So again, good team with a chance to win. Perhaps you can find a way to jump on board. If so, enjoy the ride. It should be fun for a while.
“The Field” would consist of all the other team except the Los Angeles Chargers. These are teams that have no obvious reason to pick them. Sure there are great players like JJ Watt or Aaron Rodgers out there who you may like enough to start following. But beware, players careers are short. Do you really want to be right back in the same spot again in five or 10 years? Perhaps there is a city that is important to your family. Your Dad grew up in Chicago and is an avid Bears fan. Okay, root for “da Bears”. Maybe you are moving elsewhere and your new city or state has a team. Great! Your choice is easy. Maybe you want to pick your team the way you pick your horse at Del Mar. “I really like the colors on this one.” Whatever your method, the choice is yours and no one else’s opinion matters. Peace and love, Baby. Peace and love.
the Los Angeles Chargers (that is so strange to type)
Let’s assume for a moment you are straddling the fence and you just can’t decide what side to come down on. The side that shows Dean Spanos how much you despise him, or the side that shows how much you love the team despite how much you despise Dean Spanos. Notice, I am working on the assumption that the vast majority of Chargers fans, current and ex, share a hatred for Spanos. Anyway, you have a decision to make. Let me see if I can help. First of all, consider the aforementioned teams and whether or not you have any passion for any of them. If you do, problem solved.
If you are one of those “two favorite teams” people, your task is easy. But, if you are like me and do not believe in having two favorite teams, you still have work to do.
Here is what worked for me.
I simply paid attention. I paid attention to what was going on in the NFL. I listened and read about the various news on players, owners and teams. Then I paid attention to how that news made me feel. It didn’t take long before I realized that I was still far more interested in Chargers news than any other team. The more I heard about the players, the more I realized that Dean Spanos means nothing to me. Yes, I realize that every shirt, hat, jersey, or ticket I buy puts money into Dean’s pocket. I just don’t care. Dean Spanos is rich and he will continue to be rich, with or without me. Why should I let him ruin my enjoyment?
It finally hit me last week. There was a build up for the draft and I found myself paying more attention than in recent weeks and checking mock drafts for who people thought the Chargers would pick. Then draft day came and I got more and more excited as the Chargers pick drew near. I can’t say that I had the same level of interest or excitement as I have had in the past. But I can say that I had far more interest and excitement when the Chargers picked than any other team. I even got frustrated as I noticed the NFL network kept going to commercial break before the Bolt’s picks and therefore didn’t have much time to discuss the team or their needs.
Yes, I have decided to stay with my team because I do not care in the least about any other team, and I do not feel the desire to waste all that I have gone through for the past 39 years. That being said, I am not saying that you have to feel the same way. Although, if you are reading this on Boltblitz.com, you still have some interest in the team. That much is obvious.
If you choose to move on to another team, or no team at all, or whoever is playing the Chargers on any given Sunday…good for you. I respect your choice. It is a personal decision for every individual to work out. I hope you don’t waste your time and energy trying to spread your hate to others. Who I like doesn’t affect you in the least. Nor does who you like affect me. Football season will be here before you know it. I hope you find your team and manage to enjoy the season. Remember, it’s a game.
Thanks for reading.
I have been a Chargers fan since 2004. I was 11 years old when I first watched Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates shock everyone and win the West only losing to the Jets in heartbreaking fashion. Drafting Eli with the 1st pick overall only to trade him for an even better QB in Rivers plus more. 2006 when the team was by far the best in football only to have Marlon McCree fumble away the Superbowl vs the Patriots.
I have been to countless amounts of games over the past 10 years, seeing LT break the record, beating Denver in 2008 to come back from four games down with four to play. I watched as Antonio Cromartie intercepted Peyton Manning three times and Chargers picking him off six times total on a raining Sunday Night. Ryan Succop missing the field goal in week 17 and the Chargers running a fake punt to clinch a wild card berth.
All these memories, gone thanks to greed and arrogance by an owner, who I can truly say as factual, just doesn’t get it. Spanos may be the worst owner in sports, and has all but lost the San Diego fanbase and doesn’t have any one in Los Angeles who will go to him. There is no one but yourself to blame for this. The city of San Diego tried for 15 years to get a stadium and what did you do? Put out ONE plan that you knew would fail….one. This isn’t on the city. This is on you. You have become the laughing stock of, not just the NFL, but in all of sports. Here are some examples for you Mr. Spanos:
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) January 12, 2017
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) January 12, 2017
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 12, 2017
These are just three examples of national teams/media bashing you. Here is one from my personal Twitter page:
— Padres SZN (@WilMyersGOAT) January 12, 2017
You got what you wanted. You wanted LA, well, have fun.
For the last time blitzers, I leave you. I appreciate everyone who supported but this will be my last post on boltblitz.com. I can not, and will not support this team in Los Angeles. I hope to still engage with you guys on social media, and one day, just maybe one day, we will get our Chargers back. But until then, here is me checking out saying, Fuck you Dean Spanos and Fuck the Los Angeles Chargers.
-Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
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!
Over the weekend the San Diego Chargers released a brand-new four-and-a-half minute sizzle ad, launching their movement to win the stadium vote in November. The ad, narrated by Chargers’ legend and Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, shows a beautiful 3-D rendering of the stadium, complete with improvements to the cityscape both physically and financially. Edited versions of the ad will be seen on local television soon.
The ad spearheads a full mass media campaign blitz which will also cover print, radio and social media. In addition to the Chargers’ efforts, citizen-led fan groups such as Save Our Bolts, Die Hard Bolt Club, San Diego Chargers Backers, Bolt Pride and others will cover the streets of San Diego by foot, detailing the stadium plan and encouraging citizens to vote YES in November.
To view the full-length stadium ad, click on the image below.
The ad is funded by Citizens for Sports, entertainment and Tourism with major funding from Chargers Football Company LLC. Major bulletpoints in the video stress the fact that there will be no new taxes levied on San Diego citizens. The funds would instead come from tourists, convention-goers and out-of-town business people staying in local hotels.
The 55-year history of the Chargers in San Diego is highlighted going back as far as Fouts’ famed ‘Air Coryell’ era to the current Philip Rivers-led era. The CGI-renderings show a beautiful state-of-the-art facility with a convention center annex. The deck of the annex would feature multiple viewing balconies and a grass-covered rooftop ‘sky garden’ where patrons can enjoy a panoramic view of the San Diego skyline.
The stadium would hold 61,500 fans and when they host the Super Bowl, seating could be expanded to hold 72,000. As Fouts so eloquently asks in the video, “What could be sweeter than Raiders, Broncos and Patriots fans all helping pay for the project, when they pay their hotel bill?”
The video is capped by Chargers’ owner Dean Spanos, speaking on behalf of the entire Chargers organization.
“This new facility will be much more than a stadium, it will be a world-class event center for San Diego that will create new convention space and attract new sports and entertainment events year-round. I hope you’ll take some time to consider our proposal and know that we’re here to listen and respond. San Diego is our home, and I believe the best is still to come for all of us together. So please, join with us.” Spanos said.
The video is remarkable and would be a boon to the San Diego economy for decades to come. In the short-term, tons of new city and government jobs will be added. Stadiums take time to build and this stadium could take 5-7 years to complete. Money from the approved hotel rate hike would go into the general fund after the stadium revenues are fulfilled. That money can go anywhere from repaving roads, improving schools and improving outdated features of the city.
San Diego is the greatest destination city in America, every travelling convention, trade show, major concert act would make San Diego a priority. Special attraction events such as the Olympics, World Cup, Final Fours, Wrestlemania and the yearly return of Comic-Con would ensure there is no off-season when it comes to the amount of money the city stands to make.
Citizens of San Diego, you owe this to yourselves and to your families. All it takes is a Yes vote at the polls in November to provide the brightest future, not just for the Chargers, but for the city of San Diego and its’ people for decades to come.
When all those annoying Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs fans roll into town bragging about how great their team is, we can just smile and thank them for building our new stadium. What do you think Bolt Nation? Will this get a YES vote from you in November? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
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!