Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Bored: Watch the Game on Sunday

If you live in San Diego, let me make a bet. You probably have less interest in Super Bowl XLII than any of the previous 41 Big Games.

How can you cheer for the New England Patriots; who may be perfect in record, but are less than perfect in conduct (re: SpyGate) and knocked the Chargers out of the playoffs the last two years?

Or how can you pull for the New York Giants; led by Baby Boy Eli Manning, who snubbed the Chargers when they made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft?

Sadly, this game has about as much local appeal as dirty beaches or run-down parks.

Part of the nightmare is that this represents a New York-Boston (so to speak) match-up. And don’t we all get tired of having Yankees-Red Sox jammed down our throats 18 times a year or more when they meet in Major League Baseball?

Certainly, the average fan (and the one who only watches the Super Bowl each year) will be tuned in Sunday. Some of the less knowledgeable fans wouldn’t know the difference between Tom Brady and Tom Seaver.

So even if you can’t stand either team (which most San Diegans can’t), there is a bright side to all of this: Lifelong San Diego County resident Junior Seau could be walking off with his first Super Bowl championship ring as a member of the Patriots.

It would be a nice way for him to retire.


New England 27, New York Giants 17

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bonds good fit for Padres? No way!

In a column titled “A King Without a Kingdom,” Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated says Barry Bonds would best fit with the Padres among all the teams in Major League Baseball.


OK, so the man with deteriorating skills and a perjury charge facing him in court is the all-time home run leader.

Other than that, he’s the definition of class without the “cl,” a clubhouse cancer, a trouble maker, etc. etc.

So, how would that be for a harmonious Padres’ clubhouse on a team that traditionally overachieves because of its unity?

Here’s what Corcoran had to say about Bonds and the Padres:

The Padres came painfully close to the post-season last year, giving them something to prove. They also have a gaping hole in left field, which is currently occupied by Scott Hairston. The drag here is that Bonds is a career .195/.405/.390 hitter in San Diego's pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Still, the Padres, who have taken a less controversial but also far less favorable chance with Jim Edmonds in center, seem more likely to sign Bonds than the other teams that could best use him (the Angels, Braves, D'backs, Indians, and Mets), and would benefit more than other the three teams (Texas, Houston, and Seattle) that seem most likely to give him a shot. Signing in San Diego would also keep Bonds in California and out of an intense local media spotlight. San Diego seems like the best destination for Bonds despite his past struggles in Petco. Should he land there, he'll undoubtedly tip the balance of power in the division, but then, he'll do that no matter where he plays this year.

The Petco Park argument alone should eliminate Bonds from consideration for the Padres. Not only is he a poor hitter at Petco, but could you imagine him trying to cover that vast expanse in left field at the downtown stadium with his bad knees?

He’s trouble, he’s hurt, he’s probably going to have his day in court, and he’s ineffective at Petco Park.

Those are among the myriad of reasons why the Padres should not consider signing Bonds.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chargers' injuries: Who can you believe?

If you think the New England Patriots have been less than honest concerning Tom Brady’s foot injury before Super Bowl XLII, then maybe it’s time to look in the mirror in San Diego.

Or have you not heard?

Kicker Nate Kaeding played the final four weeks of the season with a fractured fibula in his left leg (an injury never told on the official NFL injury report), according to the Associated Press.
QB Philip Rivers played the AFC Championship game after having arthroscopic surgery for a torn knee ligament, which the team had reported as a sprained knee ligament.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson wasn’t even on the injury report before the AFC title game in New England, yet had to leave after four plays with a lingering knee injury.

The San Diego Union-Tribune, which acts as an apologist for the Chargers, has already said the Chargers followed procedure according to an NFL vice president.

This same paper also said "most" NFL teams would have reported the injuries in the same manner as the Chargers; which is an interesting conclusion in that no actual poll of NFL teams was taken.

Certainly, NFL teams fudge with their injury reports. The Oakland Raiders and New England have long been considered among the top culprits.

But have the Chargers joined that group with their less than up-front reporting of injuries before the New England game?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Padres need to hold tryouts; not FriarFest

The Padres are holding 2008 FriarFest this weekend, but why not hold tryouts instead?

Or have you not seen the proposed outfield for the March 31 season opener at home against Houston?

Right fielder Brian Giles, 37, is coming off microfracture surgery on his right knee and is likely in his last year with the Padres.
Center fielder Jim Edmonds, 37, has more than lost a step or two from his glory days in St. Louis.
Left fielder Scott Hairston had some brilliant flashes last year, but he’s never been an everyday starter.

Then you throw major-league retreads such as Chip Ambres, Jeff DaVanon and Jody Gerut into the picture.

Then you consider long-time minor leaguer Paul McAnulty … then consider the fact prospects Chase Headley and/or Matt Antonelli could move from the infield to the outfield.

There are a lot of possibilities in the mix; but not too many probabilities.

Once again, it appears the best hope is for General Manager Kevin Towers to work his magic in the trade market.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chargers' AFC Championship gear donated to worthy cause

Since the Chargers didn’t win the AFC Championship, the best thing possible will happen with their pre-printed AFC Championship merchandise.

More than $2.5 million worth of Chargers’ AFC Championship gear that can’t be sold now in the U.S. is being sent to help those in need around the world through World Vision.

The good news is that there will be children in places such as Romania and Africa wearing Chargers’ clothing to keep them warm, which is a luxury for people in poor countries.

Barbara-Lee Edwards and Stan Miller of KFMB TV Channel 8 in San Diego both mentioned on the air Monday night that they sponsor a child through World Vision.

My household has been blessed by being able to sponsor a 10-year-old boy named Alpha Oumar Toure in Senegal for the past several years.

World Vision is a great organization whose motto is “Building a better world for children.”

Through World Vision, individuals such as you can sponsor a child, or even donate for goats and chickens to be given to poor families throughout the world and help provide for their daily need to have food (something we take for granted, but doesn’t always happen for these people.)

For more information, please visit

If the Chargers couldn’t win, then it’s nice to know that poor people around the world are able to benefit from all of the Chargers’ AFC Championship merchandise.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chargers following Colts' championship path?

Will the Chargers be the next Indianapolis Colts; the team that comes close for so many years before finally winning a Super Bowl?

Chargers’ faithful can only hope so after Sunday’s 21-12 loss to the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship.

If you’re disappointed by the Chargers losing to the New York Jets in the 2004 Wild Card round, the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Divisional round and New England in this season’s championship; then take heart by what the Colts suffered through.

Indianapolis concluded the 2002 season with a 41-0 wild card loss to the New York Jets. It lost to New England in both the 2003 AFC Championship and 2004 AFC Divisional round, then fell to Pittsburgh in the 2005 AFC Divisionals.

So, the next season, the Colts finally won the Super Bow after four straight years of playoff disappointment.

Can the Chargers be next?

It says here they can; but they question is whether they will follow in the footsteps of Indianapolis.

Certainly, it could have been a different story if LaDainian Tomlinson touched the ball more than three times because of injury in this year’s AFC Championship.

It also could have been different if quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates did not come into the game so beaten up.

But "what if’s" can be asked be anyone.

What if QB Vince Young had been 100 percent healthy and two of his top three receivers had not missed this year’s Wild Card game for Tennessee vs. the Chargers?

What if Marvin Harrison had not been so rusty from injury that he had not fumbled against the Chargers last week when Indianapolis appeared headed to a 14-0 lead?

These questions will never be answered anymore than what would have happened if the Chargers had been at full strength vs. New England.

There’s always next year; a refrain Colts’ fans got tired of hearing until last season.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chargers have history on their side

If history has anything to do with it, the Chargers will beat the New England Patriots on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl.

The only other time the teams met for a championship, the Chargers wiped out the Boston Patriots, 51-10, for the 1963 American Football League championship.

Of course, back then the game was played in San Diego, people waited in line for three hours at the Lafayette Hotel to buy tickets and it wasn’t supposed to be the coldest day of the year … as it may be Sunday in Foxboro, Mass. with the wind chill factor near zero degrees.

Looking back, the Chargers jumped out to a 31-10 lead they never relinquished in that 1963 championship game … the only time the Chargers have ever won a league title.

Keith Lincoln was the star for San Diego, rushing for 206 yards and 1 touchdown in 13 attempts, catching 7 passes for 123 yards and 1 TD … and even completing a 20-yard pass on his only attempt.

Then there was Paul Lowe, who rushed for 94 yards and 1 TD; Tobin Rote (173 passing yards, 2 TDs); John Hadl (112 passing yards, 1 TD); and future Hall of Famer Lance Alworth with a 48-yard TD reception from Rote.

Now one must wonder if Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates can approach these numbers against the current undefeated Patriots … and there’s even the question if any/all of them will play due to injuries.

With or without their top dogs, the Chargers will try not to become the 18th straight team to fail to meet the winning challenge against New England this season.


Patriots 34, Chargers 17
Green Bay 27, New York Giants 24

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chargers: Volek to the rescue?

If Philip Rivers can’t play at some point Sunday, the Chargers will turn to a man who holds the NFL record since 1970 for most passing yards (2,789) in his first 10 career starts.

Billy Volek?

He once completed 39 passes, second most in Tennessee Titans’ history, during a game against the Chargers on Oct. 3, 2004.

Naturally, the Chargers hope Rivers (strained right medial collateral ligament) can play the entire game Sunday at New England as they attempt to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years.

But should Volek need to be the answer, well, at least he’s been the answer at times before.

Just last Sunday, Volek scored the winning TD on a 1-yard sneak to cap an eight-play, 78-yard drive during an improbable 28-24 win at Indianapolis.

Was this really the same Volek who couldn’t hit an open receiver five yards away during his brief stints in the regular season?

Perhaps the difference was playing in a situation where the Chargers needed him to produce to win, rather than not make mistakes while they were ahead on the scoreboard.

“I haven't had a chance to go out there to play to win,” Volek said after the Indianapolis game. “When I've played it's been, 'OK, don't lose the game.' To go out there and be with those guys, it's a confidence booster and it reminds me how fun this game is.”

During a two-game stint of the 2004 season, Volek passed for 426 yards against Kansas City and 492 yards vs. Oakland, becoming the fourth QB in NFL history to record back-to-back 400-yard passing games and only the second man to record 900 or more passing yards in back-to-back contests.

Volek hasn’t played much since that 2004 season, when he replaced Steve McNair (bruised sternum) at QB for the Titans.

Even so, the eight-year veteran out of Fresno State proved he had something left in the gas tank when the Chargers needed him most against the (then) defending Super Bowl champions from Indianapolis.

Come Sunday, the Chargers may need another miracle from their second-string quarterback.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chargers' Turner is quite a burner

Michael Turner of the Chargers will be the best running back available on the free agent market this offseason.

So said Charley Casserly of the “NFL Today” show on CBS-TV last Sunday.

Before then, Turner may be the best running back available for the Chargers when they play the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship this Sunday.

If LaDainian Tomlinson is less than full speed because of his hyperextended left knee, Turner is a better option than any other NFL team has in going to its second-string running back.

When LT went down in the second quarter Sunday at Indianapolis, the Chargers didn’t miss a beat at running back. Not only did Turner lead all rushers with 71 yards in 17 attempts, he helped open up the Chargers passing game which accounted for 312 yards.

For those who have not paid attention to the Chargers over the years (and there are many current bandwagon people who haven’t), this is the type of performance that has come to be expected from Turner in limited roles.

In 2005, he rushed for an 83-yard touchdown (and 113 yards overall) when the Chargers stunned Indianapolis, 26-17, after the Colts had started the season with 13 straight victories.

In 2006, he rushed for 138 yards in a 40-7 win against Tennessee.

On both of these occasions, Turner came on in relief of Tomlinson.

Turner will almost definitely leave the Chargers after this season to realize his dream of being a starting running back in the NFL.

The Chargers kept him around for $2 million in 2007 to help them in pursuit of a championship … and just in case Tomlinson ever went down.

Keeping Turner for the 2007 season may turn out to be among the best moves the Chargers have made in a long time … especially if Tomlinson is ineffective at New England.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chargers better when bruised and battered?

Billy Volek at quarterback? Michael Turner at running back? Andrew Pinnock at blocking back?

It sounds like the end of an exhibition game for the Chargers ... not the beginning of a run for the AFC Championship.

Who would have believed the Chargers would score their winning touchdown on a drive with much of their second string on the field in Sunday’s 28-24 upset of the Indianapolis Colts?

Throw in a key catch on the winning drive by Legedu Naanee – and the fact tight end Antonio Gates was more than hobbled - and it makes the upset even more monumental.

So, would the Chargers be better off with their second-string offense in the AFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 20 at New England?

Don’t even think about it.

The win at Indy proved the Chargers have a superior offensive line from tackle to tackle with Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman, Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff and Jeromey Clary.

Their power blocking certainly proved to be a difference on the winning eight-play, 78-yard drive against the Colts capped off by Volek’s 1-yard touchdown run.

If nothing else, the Colts will remember their last game in the RCA Dome as a loss to San Diego in the same building where the Chargers spoiled what had been a perfect 13-0 season in 2005 for Indianapolis.

But while the Chargers have had Indy’s number in three straight games, New England also seems to have San Diego’s number.

Who can forget the Chargers’ heartbreaking 24-21 loss to the Patriots in last year’s AFC Divisional playoffs at home ... or the horrible 38-14 loss at New England earlier this year?

Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson better heal in a hurry from their knee injuries.

Otherwise, this may be known as the year that second-string "skill" players carried San Diego to its second-ever Super Bowl appearance ... or another lopsided loss to New England.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Can Chargers repeat road playoff history?

Precedence says the Chargers have a good chance of beating the Indianapolis Colts on the road Sunday in the AFC Divisional playoffs.

Thirteen seasons ago, the top-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers rested many of their regular players in the season finale but still barely lost to the Chargers, 37-34.

Based on that game, the “experts” knew that the Steelers (with all hands on board) would crush the Chargers in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship.

Guess what? The Chargers won, 17-13, to advance to their only Super Bowl appearance.

Fast forward to this season …

The Colts were missing six regulars with injuries (and two more left the game hurt) when they barely lost to the Chargers in San Diego, 23-21, on Nov. 11.

Now, Indianapolis is the same 8 1/2-point favorite that Pittsburgh was when it lost to the Chargers in January 1995.

The Colts are expected to have starters Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez at wide receiver, tight end Dallas Clark, tackles Tony Ugoh and Ryan Diem and linebackers Tyjuan Hagler and Freddy Keiaho ready to go this time. All either were injured or left the game early when the Chargers beat Indianapolis earlier this season.

Based on these players’ return, the Colts should win easily this week … just as Pittsburgh should have been victorious 13 years ago in the AFC Championship.

That being said:

This weekend’s predictions:

Colts 27, Chargers 17
New England 35, Jacksonville 20
Dallas 31, New York Giants 27
Green Bay 21, Seattle 13

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chargers can dream on

If the Chargers beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, consider their season a success.

If not, consider it as big of a failure as last year … even though they won a playoff game for the first time in 13 years this time.


It’s simple.

The Chargers are facing the Colts in the AFC Divisional playoffs, the same round in which they lost last season to New England, 24-21. (San Diego had a bye in the wild card round of last year’s playoffs for having the best regular season record in the AFC.)

If coach Marty Schottenheimer ultimately took the fall for losing in the divisional round last year, then losing in the same round this year would be no less of a “failure.”

The Chargers have not had a road game in the playoffs for 13 years. The last time they did so was when they won at Pittsburgh, 17-14, to advance to the 1995 Super Bowl.

That journey seemed improbable … this one appears more on the side of impossible.

In order to make this year’s Super Bowl, the Chargers would have to win at Indianapolis and (most likely) at New England. It’s only a pipe dream to think that Jacksonville and the Chargers will win this weekend then meet Jan. 20 for the AFC Championship in San Diego.

At this point, dream on!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Chargers find there are catches to winning in playoffs

The Tennessee Titans based their chances against the Chargers on stopping LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates in Sunday’s wild card playoff game.

That they did … but win they didn’t.

So why were the Chargers able to pull out a 17-6 victory for their first playoff win in 13 years?

Because once it was obvious Tomlinson couldn’t run (21 carries, 42 yards, 1 touchdown) and Gates (sprained left big toe) was injured in the second quarter, the Titans lost their game plan.

They had prepared so much for silencing Tomlinson and Gates that they forgot about San Diego wide receivers Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson.

Chambers had six receptions for 121 yards; Jackson made five receptions for 114 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.

And once Jackson’s catch gave the Chargers a 10-6 lead, the game was over. It was obvious that Tennessee’s lame offense wasn’t going to score a touchdown if the game lasted until Friday.

"It's a relief, but at the same time, it's not like we're saying, 'OK, we won a playoff game, so let's get ready to lose,' you know what I mean?” Tomlinson said. “I'm already thinking about next week and how tough of a game we're going to have going to Indianapolis, facing the champs."

Yes, it’s going to get tougher for the Chargers. They have recorded seven straight wins – coming against five losing teams, along with two victories over Tennessee.

The Indianapolis Colts team they face on the road Sunday is the defending Super Bowl champion, mind you.

The Chargers have made a habit lately of being a strong second half team against weak teams. This week, they better play a strong first half or there may not be enough margin of error after halftime.

But at least the Colts learned one thing sitting on their collective couches Sunday: If you slow down Tomlinson and Gates, it might not be enough to beat the Chargers anymore.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Chargers-Titans: Chargers-Oilers all over again?

A Chargers rout may certainly appear to be the order of the day when they play the Tennessee Titans in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs Sunday.

After all, Tennessee quarterback Vince Young is very hampered by an injury to his right quadriceps. Titans starting tight end Bo Scaife (lacerated liver) and top receiver Roydell Williams (fractured ankle) are both out.

So that means the Titans don’t have a chance because they are minus so many offensive weapons … right?

Not so fast. Not if Dec. 29, 1979 has anything to do with it.

Back then, the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers. On that date, the Oilers faced the top-seeded Chargers in the playoffs without starting quarterback Dan Pastorini, running back Earl Campbell and receiver Kenny Burrough.

The Chargers had Dan Fouts at quarterback, so the game was supposed to be a wipeout in San Diego’s favor.

But it wasn’t. Fouts was intercepted five times, including four by rookie safety Vernon Perry, and the Oilers shocked the world with a 17-14 win.

Fast forward to this Sunday and we have much the same situation as when the Chargers faced the Oilers/Titans in 1979.

Could history repeat itself? Could the storied franchised from Houston/Tennessee pull off an upset of the magnitude that it did in 1979?

That’s probably where the story line ends, but the Chargers better consider history before they consider this week’s game a certain victory.


Chargers 17, Titans 13

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A.J. Smith's new contract: Good! Bad!

The good news is the bad news for the Chargers.

The good news is that general manager A.J. Smith has been signed through 2014. And, yes, that’s the bad news.

On the good side, Smith seems to have a great ability to secure great players.

Trading Eli Manning on draft day 2004 for what turned out to be Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding was brilliant.

Bringing in Keenan McCardell in the middle of the 2004 season and Chris Chambers the middle of this season were both strokes of brilliance. Taking a chance on Antonio Cromartie in the first round of the 2006 draft looks superb right now.

Then there’s the personality.

Smith has run off such mainstays as Drew Brees, Donnie Edwards and Marty Schottenheimer with his piranha personality.

In the future, the Chargers can only hope Smith continues to make above average personality evaluations.

But on the other hand, he may even be more likely to run quality people off with his lack of people skills now that he has the longest-term contract in the organization.

We’ll see.