It is no secret that I love the sport of football. I have published several articles about the sport, each one always filled with passion and debate.
Typically, if someone were to ask who my favorite NFL football team was, I would reply, “The Colts.” After all, they are my pride and joy.
I realize I may take some heat for this article, but please note I am a fan of football, not just one football team.
Truth be told, I live in an amazing city that has a great football program. Since I can't afford to fly out to Indianapolis to watch their home games every Sunday, I decided I would begin focusing on a team a little closer to home.
I have lived in San Diego for a while now and have been privileged enough to attend a lot of games. I've witnessed the talent that is Philip Rivers and the magic of LaDainian Tomlinson.
I've also had the advantage of getting to know some of the Chargers on a little more of the personal side. I have attended charity events that have included players such as LT, Rivers, Shawne Merriman, and many more.
Hearing the nonstop negativity regarding athletes in the media, whether it be steroids or poor attitudes, gets old, but watching them interact with complete strangers during charity events and having an opportunity to have one on one time with them has been a very surreal experience.
I'm sure he does not remember, but Tomlinson and I ran into one another on a rainy Friday night here in San Diego. He was with his beautiful wife, and I was by myself trying to catch a taxi. We both hailed for one at the same time, and not so surprisingly, the driver recognized No. 21 over yet another California blonde.
I'm sure LT could see the frustration in my eyes, as I was soaking wet and just wanting to be home. His wife was comfortable and dry under an umbrella, so she didn't so much as even complain when he opened the door and allowed me to get in, wishing me a good night.
He may not have thought much of it, but I was so incredibly grateful—not just because I was inside the dry confines of the cab, but more so because it is comforting to know that athletes like him still exist. Why he was not sporting around a Hummer limo or being chauffeured around town via a personal driver is beyond me, but I'm glad I got to see that side of him.
Aside from the personal take on the Bolts, I also became a fan of the unselfishness they display on and off the field. Simply said, they play together as a team. They check the egos at the door.
Those same egos have hampered other, more talented teams, preventing them from achieving the success that they may otherwise enjoy. When I see the likes of Anquan Boldin demanding a new contract because Larry Fitzgerald is making millions more per year, it makes me question why they are really playing the game.
Then there is Terrell Owens, who is just being Terrell. Speaking of him, does anyone actually care about his new TV show?
Oh, poor Buffalo.
Guys like him allow me to genuinely appreciate the players I spoke about at the beginning of this piece and the swagger they play with. On the field, they are just about as exciting of a team to ever watch, specifically when they're on offense.
Although I am sure the Denver game last September is linked more so for the botched call by referee Ed Hochuli, I really wish it could have been remembered for more important things.
I recall almost 1,000 yards of offense that took place in that game, the Chargers recording about half of those.
Rivers sought out his favorite target, Chris Chambers, who kindly obliged, recording two touchdowns.
RB Darren Sproles was obviously no stranger to the end zone either, tallying up a total of 317 yards, making it the best game of his career. He suddenly was no longer a secret.
I watched every game the Chargers played, agonizing over their lack of defense and as shocked as anyone when they ended up becoming the first team in NFL history to begin the season 4-8, yet still make the playoffs.
I cringed as I watched San Diego beat out my Colts to advance in the AFC playoffs. As excruciating as that was to swallow, I was glad it was them who handed the Colts their season-ending loss versus a less deserving team.
I am pretty certain I was also the lone person that had a Peyton Manning jersey on my back during that game, yet had a Tomlinson jersey hanging in my closet, only to be worn the following week when they took on a fierce defensive Pittsburgh team. The Chargers couldn't quite get on their game that day, and with the lack of defense they had, it was no surprise that the game went down like it did.
Next season though, they will have a healthy Shawne Merriman, who is one man on a mission. With his help and a healthy defense surrounding him, it looks like the Bolts have a decent chance to be contenders for that little thing we call the Super Bowl.
It may be a long road there next year, but maybe it will be the yellow brick road that leads them back to Oz.
They are, after all, the San Diego Chargers.
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