My friends will tell you that I’m not exactly the biggest football fan of all time, but as a native San Diegan, the Chargers are about all we have to be (somewhat) proud of in terms of athletics. Miserable Padres teams have refused to spend any money for more than a decade, and the NBA’s only San Diego team ever, the 1978-84 Clippers, are still stinking it up 25 years later and two hours away in Los Angeles. But the Chargers: Now there’s a team that has potential. In fact, it has had potential since about 2004 when, interestingly enough, a Nate Kaeding-missed field goal led to an early playoff farewell against the New York Jets. Ah, the feeling of shattered hopes. Sound familiar?
Should we really be expecting anything at this point? Professional athletics are nothing if not repetitive. The Lakers tend to be pretty good every season, the Yankees almost always reach the playoffs and God knows Canada is a perennial World Curling Championship contender (seriously, look it up). But the Chargers are something different. The Chargers are the ones who receive a 23-point spanking at the hands of the 49ers in their only Super Bowl appearance and then follow it up by drafting Ryan “Career passer rating of 50 matched only by I.Q.” Leaf. Let’s face it, the Chargers are chokers.
Look at the history: You have that old Jets loss, the 4th quarter blown lead to the Patriots and then another Patriots embarrassment a year later in the AFC Championships. And then people are saying how this most recent one was “uncharacteristic.” Really?
Don’t worry, though. I think I have a solution. It’s an easy one too: Simply lower the expectations. The first effect is that your newfound indifference would never lead to disappointment, and that’s the best part. Second, the Chargers will perform better. Each of the last few seasons, they have always been the trendy Super Bowl pick and then proceed to start off seasons with records like 1-3 (2007), 2-3 (2008) and 2-3 (2009). But that’s where the magic kicks in, because people stop caring (being the dedicated San Diego sports fans that we are).
The Chargers, in return, hop right back on the train and find miraculous ways to get into the playoffs. Then what happens? Those expectations shoot right back up again, and the Chargers choke. Like a conceited house cat, they only respond to indifference. At least then we won’t have to hear a smug Marty Schottenheimer, after watching his son’s Jets beat his own former team, like, “Man, I was wired. It’s like I was on drugs or something.” Ugh.
Here’s a new, improved slogan for 2010: GO CHARG… or, well… whatever.