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A rough year for the family

I don’t know if anyone of you who actually come to read this blog is a true sports fan (OK, well, Bakerman and Mensching are… but outside of them), but I like to think of myself as someone who truly loves his team.

I believe in loyalty, trust and honesty. I believe it’s a big family, with the players and the coaches making the core and the fans being the extended family. We all show up to reunions, laugh and cheer and cry. We even drink some beer, have some burgers and try to enjoy ourselves.

For me, my family is the San Diego Chargers. I love those guys. I’d rather see them than my sister on Sunday. Or Jesus. Or anyone, really.

The older, very cool San Diego Chargers logo.

Admittedly it wasn’t always so. In my younger days, I was a die-hard New York Giants fan. I bled blue and red and white. They were my boys. Lawrence Taylor was my hero and role model. Cocaine was hard to come by though, so I had to snort flour and baby powder. I loved Phil Simms and the way he could only throw accurately out to 15 yards. Then came Tyrone Wheatley. And then Tiki Barber. Michael Strahan was one of the best ever. Jesse Armstead was the “Little Giant” who knew how to make big hits. Hell, I even liked Ron Dayne.

But things went bad in New York. First it was the way they sent Jason Sehorn—my favorite defensive back of my younger years—packing to the Rams despite his offer to get paid less as long as he could get to retire as a Giant. And then Armstead getting shipped off because he disagreed with how Barber was trying to run things on and off the field.

But the final straw was the Eli Manning debacle. Kerry Collins had taken us to a Super Bowl. He still had contract left. Manning throws a fit in the draft, refuses to play for the then-struggling Chargers, and forces the team that picked him to trade him away. The Giants took him, trading Philip Rivers for the younger and less-talented Manning (as compared to his brother, Peyton, though he’s still better than cry-baby Archie).

That wasn’t what caused the break-up between me and my Giants. No, it was the phone call they put in to Collins immediately after, basically telling him he was fired. They had their future. He was a relic to them.

I have no love for Collins, personally, though he made great strides after really messing up in Carolina. But he deserved better. He deserved respect and loyalty. He got neither.

So I quit. I gave up. I hit the road and never looked back. I became a man without a team because I couldn’t stand to see my boys being treated like that.

I sat down at the dinner table one night and I drafted six letters. The worst teams in the NFL would get a chance for me to be their fan. Would they want me? I sent them out and waited.

Only one team wrote back: The San Diego Chargers. Sending with it a letter welcoming me aboard as a fan of their team, and included was a team-signed photo of the Chargers Girls. I was hooked. They had me right on the spot. It was a wonderful gesture and one I’ll never forget.

Things started to look up for the Chargers from that point on. Rivers played great, Ladanian Tomlinson set a few NFL records. Antonio Gates, Antonio Cromartie, Shawne Merriman and everyone were having great seasons.

Even our special teams were sickly good with Kassim Osgood playing like he was out of his mind and Nate Kaeding seemingly never missing.

Life was good. I had a family, a home.

But lately I’ve been sadly watching my family fall apart. Two of my favorite players, Cromartie and Tomlinson are wearing green and white in New York with the Jets. Osgood will get a chance to prove himself as one great receiver with Jacksonville. Nose tackle Jamal Williams will be playing for Denver (I spit on the Broncos!).

It’s been a rough year, to say the least.

I wish these players well, but know that things should have worked out differently.

Williams, it seems, was leaving town without telling anyone anything. He must have had his heart set on Denver. But Tomlinson was all but forced out of the organization because those in charge felt he wasn’t as valuable as he once was. Osgood just wasn’t given a proper chance, though I suspect we’ll regret that in the coming years favoring several receivers I just don’t believe can catch as well as he can. And Cromartie? Well, the management (cough… cough… A.J. Smith!… cough) had their personal problems with Cromartie’s personal life. Was it really any of their business?

I love these guys. They meant the world to me. I hate to see them go. My family just doesn’t seem… it just doesn’t seem right without them.

I hope each Charger who left us this year (well, not Williams) goes on to have a great career at their new home. I cheer for each of them individually and won’t ever give up on them. I am going to sincerely miss each and every one of you.

But I tell you what: it’s been a rough year for the family, and a tough year to be a San Diego Chargers fan. I’ll stick with it, but I have to start wondering if the reason I left New York’s fan base is the same reason I’ll just end up giving up on the NFL completely.

Loyalty, I fear, is no longer a part of this game.

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  1. Kurt
    March 24, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    My only NFL loyalty is to my fantasy team. Being from Detroit sucks sometimes, but I never feel like I’m missing anything with the Lions, and never will. I find it hard to get into the NFL. Like it’s the biggest sport in the USA and I just kinda shrug my shoulders and think ‘whatever, why the obsession?”

  2. Ron
    March 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Interesting saga, the best part is seeing the Giants lose a fan. As a season tix holder for over thirty years I have seen the ups and downs of the organization and at this point, the loss of these players are sound business decisions. the only one that might bite us is 765, oops Cromartie, If he can keep his unit in his pants and actually develop a spine to make some tackles he could be a star. He wore out his welcome with his mates, they were sick of his failure to sell out. The rest are at the end of the line. Kassim complained too much and should have thanked the Chargers for his opportunity. Again we are getting rid of a selfish player.
    Cason was on the all decade team for NCAA football, so its time to find if he is the real deal. Have faith in A.J. as he has built a perennial winning team. Norv just wins when it counts, not withstanding Kaeding’s meltdown. I was there when Fouts had 4 picks against an Oiler team without Ear Campbell and Dan Pastorini and we lost at home in the playoffs.
    The defense will be stronger, watch Garray at NT, Merriman at full strength, Siler will be a stud. Having Applewhite back on special teams can offset Osgoods loss.

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