“Good Bye Bolts”
San Diego loves its Pro football team, but Sunday might be the final time they ever see it here in America’s Finest City.
It’s a love affair that started with the outlaw American Football League, flourished fast, and then became part of the NFL. There have been good days and bad days with this franchise, but the team colors and logo are forever part of the fabric of this community.
Chargers football was Sid Gillman and those Wild West days in the old AFL. It was Keith Lincoln’s 329-all purpose yard afternoon in 1963, when the Chargers blew out the Boston Patriots and Babe Parilli (53-10) to win the AFL title. John Hadl, Ernie Ladd, Paul Lowe, and Earl Faison.
Chargers football was all things “Air Coryell”. It was Dan Fouts 400-yard passing days, blood on his uniform, the battles-brawls with the Raiders. It was the (41–38) playoff win in the old Orange Bowl in Miami, a week before the disheartening Ice Bowl loss in Cincinnati. Never has there been a combination of Winslow-Joiner-JJ-Wes Chandler-James Brooks-Pete Johnson.
Chargers football was Bobby Beathard-and-Bobby Ross, the guys who ended the ‘Decade of Decline’ and led the Bolts to the Super Bowl game against the 49ers. It was the huge AFC championship game win in Pittsburgh, it was the party that night in the rain at the Stadium. It was Junior Seau bringing together a special bunch.
Chargers football was ‘Martyball’, the mix of Marty Schottenhieimer-Philip Rivers-LaDanian Tomlison, and a (14-2) season and drive to the AFC-Championship game in New England..
Chargers football has also had its down times. The drug plagued teams of the 70’s. The awful Ryan Leaf years. The disappointments of Jack Kemp throwing 6-picks in back-to-back AFL championship games; the Dan Fouts 5-interception playoff games; Steve Young’s 6-TD game; Rivers and Tomlinson both trying to play on injured knees in Foxoboro, and now this season’s tailspin..
Never has there ever been a team logo though that better fit the personality of a franchise than the Lightning Bolt. From those early days in the AFL-Hadl-Rote- Kemp, to Fouts, and Stan Humphries, onto Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, lightning strikes thru the air anytime, anyplace.
And now they play their final home game of the season on Sunday, and what many feel might be their final home game in this city ever.
San Diego has loved its pro football team for more than 50-years. Isn’t it sad, the owner loves money more than he loves the fans, the franchise and the Chargers legacy.