“Chargers-End of Era-End of Relationship”
They’re all gone now, every one last link we had to the San Diego Chargers, from their last great run with the Lightning Bolts, you know the (14-2) season.
Philip Rivers divorce from the Bolts, brought to a conclusion the era of LaDainian Tomlinson…Antonio Gates…Vincent Jackson…Darren Sproles…Eric Weddle…Shawne Merriman and Antonio Cromartie.
Injury, age, free agency, expensive contracts, ended what many thought would be a special time.
This is painful to watch, knowing San Diego no longer has a team, and now no longer has anyone to root for wearing the Lightning Bolt.
At the end of the day, the closing comments on Rivers’ career were polite, probably honest, and definitely sad.
The Chargers rid themselves of a 4,000-yard passer, a leader, a cornerstone citizen, and a talent whose accomplishments covered 23-pages in this year’s media guide.
Owner Dean Spanos made the comment, ‘heart and soul of the team’, and then he cut that heart out by letting him go.
GM Tom Telesco spoke of how hard it was to get to the end of the line, using phrases like icon, legend as a teammate, a trusted leader, someone always accountable. All honest and sincere. Telesco has been thru this before reaching the decision to let Peyton Manning go, but that was about injuries, and just as Andrew Luck arrived in Indianapolis.
John Spanos was silent, as he has been for over a year, not wishing to be seen nor heard as President of Football Operations. Guess (5-11) does that to you.
Silent too was coach Anthony Lynn, stunning in that he has been a standup guy, but maybe his quote to an ESPN reporter ‘not my type of quarterback’ says it all. Now with the security of a contract extension he votes to oust a future Hall of Famer. Now we see what type of team he has next year with whatever quarterback they put on the field.
Also missing was napalm-tossing assistant Mark Fabiani, he of scorched earth history dating to the move from San Diego, the one fingered by an exec for telling an NBC reporter the organization was upset ‘Rivers never bought in on the move to LA-never helped us market the team’. That said, and then slinked back into the shadows.
The Chargers have now become someone else. Buffalo-without the cold and snow. Jacksonville-without the heat and humidity. In essence, a last place team for years, like the Bills and Jags were without a quality quarterback.
Rivers could have been a bridge to the next young QB coming if. The franchise would have paid him 27M this year and let him play and tutor the likes of Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa.
But there are other problems, all these impending free agents they let get out on the open market, and who have to be re-signed to big contracts, and who will get offers now elsewhere. And do you think, with Rivers no longer the lynchpin to the Bolts, some of these people want to stay? Think Hunter Henry doesn’t get an offer in New England. Think Melvin Gordon to the Raiders.
And Dean Spanos next year begins paying off the 650M-bill he owes for the territorial transfer to move into Los Angeles. Going into a new stadium as a tenant, coming off a last place season, and moving out a future Hall of Fame quarterback. And you think the past three years in LA have been hard? Spanos could have borrowed that 650M, helped finance the stadium in San Diego, been revered, rather than reviled.
Rivers will have his choice. Indianapolis, Frank Reich, Nick Siriani, a great offensive line, a heavy duty Marlon Mack running the ball, and all those dome games in a perfect climate. Looks good to me, better than Carolina or Miami, maybe close to equal to become a Tennessee Titan.
This exit was more than just about 23-TDs and 23-turnovers. It was about personality, it was about philosophy, and it was about dollars.
There are so many memories of Philip Rivers. The (123-101) record. The (397-TDs–190–Interceptions. The courage to take (445-sacks). The fire, the leadership, the brutal hits, the ‘dad-gummit’ way of competing every minute of every day.
I close my eyes and I see Rivers throwing TD passes to Antonio Gates. I see Tomlinson darting-dashing with handoffs and screen passes from that quarterback. I see the zillion of audible calls at the line of scrimmage. I hear the post-game emotion filled press conferences, delivering blunt honesty.
Remember Vincent Jackson-Tyrell Williams big play catches. The little guys, Danny Woodhead and Darren Sproles and all the damage they did coming out of the backfield. Chunk plays killing the other guys.
I see Rivers yapping at Denver’s mouthy do-nothing QB-Jay Cuter. Rivers pointing at then Broncos coach Josh McDaniels who was always running up and down the sidelines, running his mouth, as his teams went (5-17) before they fired him.
Rivers won 6-games at Arrowhead Stadium. Won 7-times in Denver. Beat the Raiders 18-times. Put down the Steelers with 3-wins and went (3-0) vs Eli Manning. There was the all time record 503Y-passing day and the 65-pass attempts against Green Bay, and all those 400-yard afternoons in the sunshine that was mostly San Diego.
Oh yes, there were negatives, the (1-8) record against Tom Brady. The (0-3) mark vs Drew Bree’s. A bad (5-15) stretch in his last playoff game. The Marlon McCree interception-fumble in the playoffs. The bizarre Vincent Jackson-kick the penalty flag incident that killed momentum in another playoff game. We hurt remembering Tomlinson sitting on a playoff bench with a bruised knee when he could no longer run and catch.
Sadly just 2-playoff wins over his last 11-seasons, from an organization that sadly failed to put enough good players around him. For all his GM-AJ Smith, then Tom Telesco did, they didn’t do enough consistently.
And our last memory is the most painful, getting booed off the field at home, and him choking up in his final press conference, after the final loss in Kansas City. He was honest and sincere right to the final minute.
We remember the 30-fourth quarter comebacks, the 25-completions in a row, and playing 6-days after knee scope surgery in a playoff game in New England.
Please don’t mention Tyrod Taylor with a (23-21) career record managing games, but not winning many. Don’t sell me a 1AA quarterback who had 1-TD and 6-picks in preseason last year coming out of North Dakota State.
You can sell me on Justin Herbert from Oregon, but this is a raw rookie, and I hope is not a clone of the last ‘systems quarterback, Joey Harrington who came out of Eugene’s Autzen Stadium.
Things I know for certain. When Dan Fouts retired, the Chargers went thru 17-different QB’s till they traded for Stan Humphries. When Humphries left as a concussion victim, the franchise went thru 17-more quarterbacks till the arrival almost simultaneously of the future Hall of Famers-Drew Brees and Rivers.
I know for certain too, no one should ever wear #17 again either.
We lost our team, our legendary QB, and the last link to what San Diego fans loved, the Chargers, taken away by the owner.
Philip Rivers, about faith-football-friends. Great player. Greater Person.
Gone. Era Over.