We don’t have perfect, but just be glad you’re not a San Diego Chargers fan. (Christian Peterson/Getty Images)
San Diego Union Tribune — In a city usually satisfied with sold-enough to avoid a blackout, this monstrous game is going to have a crowd that befits it. Sold out. Moreover, it has been so for months. The Chargers announced on Sept. 24 that Sunday night’s game against the New England Patriots was sold out. It was the team’s earliest sellout in seven years. … Congratulations, Chargers. Congratulations, Chargers fans. Now, you all need to make it worthwhile. … You get Sunday Night Football. You get the powder blue uniforms. You shelled out the money. Now lose your mind. … Last season was pretty embarrassing. The offense had to go to silent counts at home numerous times in multiple games. And once quick boos became commonplace in the Norv Turner era, it was a tough habit to break. Of late, there has been more energy, less hostility… Let’s concentrate on taking advantage of this opportunity against a Patriots team that is 3-3 on the road this year. Philip Rivers is 0-5 against Tom Brady-led Patriots teams. But the last time New England was here Rivers threw for 336 yards, the Chargers almost doubled the Patriots’ total yardage and lost by three points, mostly because they turned the ball over on four straight possessions in the first half. This Chargers team is better than that. But it needs help.
New England, welcome to the San Diego Chargers‘ world.
Oftentimes when the Patriots are visiting a city they haven’t been to in a while, I find it helpful to do a little opposition research. Not just on the opposing team or their coaches or whatever; I do that every week. No, I’m talking about going on the other city’s news sites, its fan message boards, follow its beat reporters on Twitter, that sort of thing. Just to throw the sphygmomanometer of social media around the bicep of the city to get the blood pressure of their fan base.
And it’s amazing what you can learn. I mean, I knew in general that the Chargers are one of the softest franchises in the NFL. This, after all, is the team that in 2010 was second in the NFL in offense and second in defense and didn’t even make the playoffs. The club that celebrated a ‘roided-up fraud like Shawn Merriman for his stupid “Lights Out” sack dance, then got so severely butt-hurt when a few Patriots players threw it back in their faces after winning a playoff game on the Chargers’ own field that they needed grief counselors. This is the franchise whose best player ever is LaDainian Tomlinson, who broke down in tears at the end of that very game about how little class Bill Belichick has while reminding us how “classy” he is. You know, the way classy people always do. And then the following season, LT exacted his revenge in the AFC championship game with a very classy two carries for five extremely classy yards before classily taking himself out of the game. THAT’s the kind of team San Diego has been.
But I had no idea that softness permeated the whole football culture out there. A newspaper column congratulating fans on selling out a game? Then begging them to come out and cheer? Is this an NFL city or your town paper asking you to support the high school team? This would be embarrassing if it was something out of a campus paper. Here, in 2014, it’s a disgrace. This isn’t just soft, it’s memory foam. And people think I’m a homer.
Still, this is an important exercise. With all the success we’ve had around here during the duck boat era, it’s easy to take things for granted. Looking into the soul of another city’s sports media and fan base is like watching one of those international relief ads. You’re sitting there considering yourself poor because you’re two iPhones behind and one of your two cars is a piece of junk, and then you see 200 people hanging off the side of bus fleeing some famine someplace and your realize how good you have it. Granted the Pats are 10 years from their last Super Bowl win. And yes our media leave a lot to be desired. And sure, San Diego’s quality of life is a thousand times better than ours. But just imagine for one second this being what your sports fan experience is like. How this article put it? “Congratulations, Patriots fans.”