Oh San Diego Chargers faithful, as I stated early this year, “Stay the Course.”
With suspect calls awarded to the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders in Week 10 & Week 11, remember to appreciate what you have. By the time I’m done typing, I can only hope we still have 17 players on the IR and no more. Insert a literal laugh out loud here.
The media witch-hunt, along with Dean Spanos confusing many of us, has “Chargers Pride” down a ton these days.
Don’t fret, and most importantly, as we generation-x folks say… don’t trip! If and when we lose our beloved San Diego Chargers, focus on why you love them.
Good to Bad (The 90’s Bolts: 1991-1995)
I didn’t enjoy watching a lowly club, from 1991 to 1993, stink up the joint with the likes of John Friesz at quarterback. Former Chargers’ GM Bobby Beathard, who previously worked for the Redskins, acquired little-known QB Stan Humphries to guide the team. Humphries was a backup with Washington prior to his time in San Diego. It wasn’t long before Stan Humphries supplanted John Friesz. Wedged into the 91-93 seasons, was the 1992 San Diego Chargers team that was 11-5, after an 0-4 start under former head coach Bobby Ross. That team showed a glimpse into the Chargers’ ability.
My obsession with the Chargers was born in 1992. I’m certain. In 1993 the Chargers finished 8-8 on the year. 1994 was our only Super Bowl team, a band of hard workers, not picked to do much more than finish .500 again. That wasn’t the case as linebacker Junior Seau (RIP the amazing local hero from Oceanside), Leslie O’Neal, and company had a miraculous 1994 campaign. We didn’t have the ending we hoped for against the powerhouse San Francisco 49ers, at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami Florida. 49-26 was the final score, and it was fitting, I suppose. In 1995, the Chargers lost against a scrappy Indianapolis Colts team lead by Jim Harbaugh. They were called the Cardiac Kids. I couldn’t stand them at the time. To the Colts credit, they went on to face the Steelers for the AFC Championship that year.
The Lean Years (1996-2003)
The Chargers suffered, with no playoffs during this span. It was a very bad time to be a fan. This was a time period that rivals today in my opinion. However, in 2001, San Diego drafted two young players that will someday be Hall of Famers. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Drew Brees. In 2002, NFL legend Junior Seau played his final year in San Diego. LaDainian was unofficially handed over the reins as the face of the San Diego Chargers. All-Pro Rodney Harrison was also let go during this same time period. It sounds and felt bleak, but things changed in a hurry in 2004.
2004-2009 Playoff Teams Reborn
Marty Schottenheimer & Norv Turner
In 2004, Brees & Tomlinson led the young, talented Chargers to an 11-5 record and relevance, once again. Marty Schottenheimer got the team to a 14-2 record, but he was let go after a disappointing playoff loss. Also in 2004, rookie quarterback Philip Rivers was drafted by GM A.J. Smith after John Butler passed away in 2003. Players such as Nick Hardwick, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips, Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Darren Sproles, to name a few, were also selected in that era. Obviously, we know how the Drew Brees saga ended. Instead of focusing on the negatives, I choose to remember how many great players and seasons we’ve had.
Eventually, Norv Turner took over the team in 2007. In his first year San Diego went 11-5 and to the AFC Championship Game vs New England. The closest San Diego had been to a return to Super Sunday. Ironically facing off against Jr Seau and Rodney Harrison. In 2008 San Diego was an unlikely 8-8 club, that beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in the Wildcard round. Later losing to the Steelers in the following round. The last solid opportunity was in 2009 with a 13-3 team, that lost primarily due to defense by the Jets and Nate Kaeding’s erratic day. Norv Turner wasn’t well received due to underachieving with loaded teams. Time heals all wounds I suppose, and I am thankful for that era.
2013-Present Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco Era
This regime has yielded two 9-7 seasons, one playoff season in 2013, and a 4-12 season in 2015. Endless stadium talk by Dean Spanos and the City of San Diego have plagued the team. Draft picks such as Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, Denzel Perryman, Jason Verrett, Joey Bosa, etc, have been solid, though injuries have limited the whole group already in their young careers.
These guys make you feel like you’re there. Josh Lewin is one of the best in the business period. I loved hearing Hank do Chargers games as well, and have enjoyed him for years. These guys are the voice of the real Chargers fans. Nick Hardwick has fit in nicely this season, and is a natural calling games.
I don’t know what our future holds. Regardless, I’m a diehard. I’m choosing to ignore the noise and enjoy my team that’s been terrible, good, mediocre, and mind-numbing. To me, if you’re a fan, you’re thankful to be a fan and experience all the emotions of the ride. Don’t let outsiders turn us against our Chargers. Don’t let Dean or his stadium talk convince you otherwise.
RIP Junior Seau, thank you 1994 Chargers, and every team for that matter. All our awesome undrafted studs too. Antonio Gates, Kris Dielman, Malcolm Floyd, Mike Tolbert, Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, so on and so on. I am thankful for you.