Johnny Unitas hated San Diego. After playing 17 years for the Colts, he was traded to the Chargers at the age of 40. Unitas, a big beer drinker, hated the fact that the Chargers players preferred weed (he called it “funny cigarettes”) and pills instead. Back in the 70s, the Chargers purchased over ten THOUSAND pills a year in bulk, with coaches like Sid Gillman yelling at players to take the drugs to stay “big and strong.”
Unitas hated that. He also hated his offensive coordinator, Bob Schnelker, and routinely gave rookie underling Dan Fouts advice that directly contradicted Schnelker’s. Most of all, he hated the weather. The sun came out with a metronomic consistency that began to grate on him. He confided to writer Tex Maule, “We haven’t even had a drizzle since we came to camp. I miss thundershowers.”
Unitas lasted all of four games before getting benched for Fouts, and then headed back to Baltimore as fast as he could. Here was the nicest city in America, and all the greatest football player in history at the time wanted to do was leave it.
I root for a team that has a long and illustrious history of failure and I can tell you that, objectively speaking, there is a definite East Coast bias when it comes to ranking long-suffering fanbases. Have a look for yourself here, or here, or here. When it comes to pain, you will find Cleveland, and Buffalo, and Detroit, and a handful of other perennial sad-sack cities whose travails on the gridiron are often drawn in parallel with their greater socio-economic suffering. The Bills are fucking terrible, and their terrible-ness is supposedly exacerbated by life IN Buffalo, which has all the warmth and prosperity of an Antarctic whaling outpost.
San Diego, as you are constantly reminded, is not a shithole. It’s sunny and temperate and everyone there is hot, and so it’s easy for fans like me to dismiss the bitterness of Chargers fans because they can, like, go surfing if they want to.
But this is wrong. As pain goes, the Chargers have a resume that stacks up with pretty much anyone: Nate Kaeding, Ryan Leaf, trading a first-round pick to draft Bryan Still, trading ANOTHER to draft Mikhael Ricks, nine blown leads of 10-plus points in this decade alone, Marlon McCree fumbling his own interception in the playoffs against the Pats, losing at home in the playoffs to the Jets… TWICE (once to Herm Edwards and once to fucking Mark Sanchez), Craig Whelihan, Junior Seau killing himself, Eli refusing to play there (there!), Dr. David Chao, letting Drew Brees walk for nothing, Terrence Kiel’s lean, LaDainian riding his exercise bike, and on and on. There was also the time where the Chargers were reduced to extras in the only Super Bowl they ever made… a 49-26 whomping at the hands of Steve Young and the 49ers that was preordained the moment San Diego won the AFC title.
I know a few Chargers fans. Their fatalism is no different than that of your average Jets fan, or Eagles fan, or any of their other northern NFL counterparts who know exactly when things will go wrong for their team, and how they will go wrong. And the Chargers’ failures are just as traumatic for them as other teams’ more notorious boners are for their fanbases.
And yet all of the Chargers miseries can’t even compare to their final humiliation. When the Browns left Cleveland, they left behind the team colors and some small ray of hope that the franchise would return one day. (The hope turned out better than the reality of it.) When the Colts left Baltimore, they left behind arguably the richest history of any NFL team at the time, along with all those thundershowers for Johnny U to bask in. When the Rams left St. Louis, fans could at least look back at the Greatest Show On Turf and scrape together a few happy memories.
But the end of the Chargers is different. The Chargers leave San Diego an unfinished work. If you’re an older fan, you still have memories of Air Coryell and the 1963 AFL title. But for younger fans, there’s little more than a handful of fond memories that are soured by multiple tragedies, along with the realization that the San Diego Chargers never brought them ultimate glory, and now never can.
They were inherited by a sleazy little shit named Dean Spanos whose only apparent skill is being well-liked by other owners who know they can push his sorry ass around, as evidenced here:
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided, however, that the relocation vote would be taken by secret ballot, the well-liked Spanos’ brotherly support suddenly flipped.
He’s very well-liked and “loyal to a fault,” as one owner described him.
The Chargers’ Dean Spanos is well-liked by NFL owners
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson argued that Spanos, a beloved owner who for more than a decade had tried to build a new stadium in San Diego, deserved the market.
Keep in mind that Spanos did NOT make any effort to build a Chargers stadium in San Diego. He made an effort to get the city to pay for one. It’s not the same thing. And it’s no sign of disloyalty for a town to wise up and tell someone like Spanos to fuck off and pay for that shit himself. Any bullshit about San Diego being unable to support a football team is exactly that, and it rings hollow given that the Chargers are about to relocate to a town that clearly does not want them… a town where they will struggle to fill a soccer stadium, a town where people only give a shit about you if they know you can do something for them. The Chargers are about to become the NFL’s first unofficial orphan franchise. They’ll technically be the L.A. Chargers, but spiritually they will be nowhere. They will be nobodies, existing strictly as an asset to be sold off, there to fill up fantasy lineups and Sunday Ticket matchups.
This is the shit Chargers fans have to eat after investing years of their lives in a team. The waste is palpable. And yeah, being a sports fan is a choice, and an irrational one at that. But that doesn’t make the coming void in their lives any less pronounced. There is little to assuage the bitterness of watching a spoiled brat spend $650 million(?!) for the privilege of making your favorite team a football non-entity… a move that was the result of a contractual favor that the rest of the NFL almost surely now regrets. Even league champions like Peter King have openly ripped the move.
Their colors won’t be preserved for San Diego, nor will their records, nor will the best helmets in pro football. That all goes to LA. Once there the Chargers will likely serve as the NFL’s death knell—the price of the league’s greed for new stadiums, regardless of cost or circumstances, finally made manifest. The NFL may have gotten a bit of relief thanks to last week’s awesome Packers/Cowboys game, but in the big picture you can sense the distaste growing. The Chargers are now a talisman of that distaste, and they probably will be for a long time.
The fact that Chargers fans get to live in San Diego isn’t as much of a solace as you think, either. When you’re unhappy, Southern California can be the loneliest fucking place in the world. Everywhere you look, you are surrounded by people whose lives are seemingly more perfect than your own. And the fantastic weather acts a kind of lingering nag… an irritating reminder that you SHOULD be happy even if you’re not. When you live somewhere miserable, at least you have an excuse for it. People leave you alone, or they help you drink the pain away indoors. You’re not surrounded by a bunch of fucking Jack LaLannes and Navy steakheads making it worse.
So when the L.A. Chargers limply take the field next season, pour one out for the fans they left behind. They were fans just like you, and they spent a long time waiting for a moment that will now never come. Think about the investment they made that didn’t pay off, and the empty Sundays they’ll spend wandering around a city that isn’t always the paradise it’s made out to be. Think about living here and watching some of your favorite players (and your owner!) openly pining to leave even though it’s goddamn San Diego. Think about what it means to know for certain that your owner doesn’t give a fuck about you, drawing out that indifference for years until one final act of blasé desertion. This is how the San Diego Chargers ended, and their fans deserved better. There won’t even be rain to help water the team’s grave.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I also pick the games, because I KNOW VEGAS. I’m tight with all the “sharps,” as they are known to some.
Packers (+4.5) 45, Falcons 35. In case you missed it, the NFL now has a “digital learning initiative” called Character Playbook, because life is all about being a HIGH CHARACTER GUY. Let’s see what kind of morality drills the NFL puts you through…
Man, Oscar SUCKS. His pouting motion is way off. And look at the terrible rapport he’s established with Maria and Sylvia. Can’t fend off the hormone rush at ALL. If he expects to make it in the HUMAN LEAGUE, he’s gonna have to work on his fundamentals and lose that dipshit crewneck.
For real though, I have no fucking idea what the NFL is doing.
Patriots 20, Steelers (+5.5) 17. I can’t decide who I hate more between Roger Goodell and the Pats fans who get to indulge their inner Tough Guy complex because the commish ducked out of going to Foxboro this weekend. HE WON’T SHOW HIS FACKIN’ FACE HERE-AH BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE MESSED WITH THE WRAWNG CITY! It’s not like they would have shot the guy. Your average Pats fan would probably just boo him and then try to throw a beer at him but miss and hit a baby.
In other news, I have no ideas why the Steelers are apologizing for that stupid Antonio Brown Facebook Live video. The Patriots ARE assholes! You may as well apologize for the sun rising. This is bullshit. This is the sort of thing that isn’t a thing until the media makes it a Thing and then Big Fat Ben chimes in and makes it even more of a Thing:
You moron. You took the bait! Now, if the Steelers lose, we’ll get a whole offseason of Facebook Live takes. It’s #Boatghazi with a phone! I’m profoundly irritated. You can pull AB aside and say, “Please don’t FB Live from the fucking locker room again” without indulging the Take Industrial Complex. They shouldn’t have apologized. They should have dragged a Brady doll in front of TV cameras and burned it in effigy.
None. Here’s your random crap:
•I goofed on James Harrison during the Chiefs game and Yinzers came FLYING in to defend that crazy asshole.
“Do you even WATCH football, bro?” These folks are very, very confident in their assessment of this man’s lab work. Why it’s almost as if they’re simply puppeting his own complaints about his testing schedule! James Harrison is a 38-year-old man built like Colossus. He farts masking agents.
•I bought legal weed for the first time last week in Colorado and it was fucking thrilling. I walked in, looked around at a bunch of black lights and shitty tapestries, looked at a menu, paid for a pre-rolled joint (it even had a filter!), and left. AMAZING. There wasn’t even a security guard there to make me nervous. It almost happened too fast. I should have stood there five minutes longer, savoring the legality. But I didn’t, because the pot shop was very small and I don’t wanna hear a clerk drone on about the healing properties of sativa like a waiter asking me if I’ve dined at his restaurant before. Regardless, the rest of the country needs to hurry the fuck up and be like Colorado. I could easily survive the Trump Years with cheap and available weed all around me. JUST THE MELLOW I NEED.
•If you believe this post, Vegas sports books lost a lot of money on last weekend’s divisional action. Oh, and they lost a boatload during Wild Card weekend, too. And on the national title game. Wow, I wonder how they’re all still in business! Why, it’s almost like they overpublicize their losses in order to lure in bettors who think they can win BIG MONEY. “We just can’t get these lines right, folks! WE’RE SO STOOPID! A guy could probably bet the deed to his house against us and get away with it!”
•On every flight they serve food before drinks, because it doesn’t take as long to serve the food, so they can get at least one cart out of the way. But I’m gonna tell you, the time waiting between eating your little bag of pretzel sticks and getting a drink to wash it down is fucking AGONY. By the time the lady rolls up with a can of seltzer, I look like this man:
This is what I get for refusing to shell out three bucks for bottled water at Hudson News. I won’t be played like that.
•I’m not sure I believe that three teams actively wanted to hire Jon Gruden as much as they just wanted to chat with him before moving onto more viable candidates. Either way, Gruden’s supposed reasoning for staying in the broadcast booth is fucking enraging.
“Gruden intends to remain in the television booth, in part because of the coaching restrictions of the CBA,” Schefter said on ESPN.
What a limp excuse. “Oh, I’d love to come back but I can’t work my magic with these GLORY BOY players who won’t practice in March!” You don’t see Belichick walking away because of this shit. God forbid you trust your players to be self-disciplined. The current CBA isn’t exactly favorable to players, but give them an actual offseason to recover and Gruden acts like it’s some crippling handicap. GTFO. He was never that good of a coach to begin with.
Last week’s picks: 4-0
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Glory Days,” by Pkew Pkew Pkew. Yes, that’s the actual name of the band. Anyway, this is NOT a cover of the Springsteen song. Ryan explains:
This band is so entertaining, you could forget they are Canadian. All of their songs are about drinking, pissing off neighbors, and/or skateboarding. Strong anti-townie stance on this song.
I support all anti-townie takes. Also, I like any video where it’s clear that the band only had the budget to film in their own house, with their own beer. That’s the realest.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
The baseball Hall of Fame announced its voting results this week. Were we treated to a round of saucy PED takes? Indeed we were. The great Charlie Pierce directs you to this hot fire from the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. Yes, it’s a rare group take, and from one of the worst newspapers in America.
Slammin’ Sammy is once again on this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame ballot… A growing consensus among baseball writers casting Hall of Fame ballots is that if Selig can get in, how can the players he failed to police be denied?
That’s twisted logic.
OMG this logic is so fucking $icK. If you let steroid cheats into the Hall, you may literally go INSANE from it. Your children will wear clown makeup and rob banks and get bad tattoos!
Selig’s poor stewardship doesn’t excuse a player’s decision to cheat.
Why is that?
In 1991, Selig’s predecessor, Fay Vincent, added steroids to baseball’s banned substances list.
OH THERE WAS A LIST. Why not induct the list instead of BAR(Rx)Y BONDS or ROGER NO-CLEMENS-CY!
When Selig took over, the rule was there — the enforcement wasn’t.
Bring it home, Trib.
Cooperstown should reward grit and athleticism, not pharmacology.
KABOOOOOOOOM. Five hundred fire emojis! Finally, someone out there wants gritty baseball players rewarded.
History abounds with cases of sports heroes disgraced by cheating.
Many of them in the Hall of Fame! Fancy that. It’s almost like the greatest players of all time were also psychopathic competitors in a cutthroat sport who were willing to do anything possible to get an edge.
A spot in the Hall of Fame is Valhalla for any player, but cheating gives that achievement an indelible smudge.
I vote for them to induct Bonds and Clemens and Sosa and literally smudge their plaques. That way, you can go to Cooperstown and your kid can ask, “Daddy, why is there grease on Mister Bonds?” And you can say, “Well son, it’s time for me to talk to you about the birds and the bees and the hormone therapy they use to hit baseballs good and fuck better.”
Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg put it succinctly in a 2013 MLB.com interview: “Baseball is based on numbers, and I believe any tainted numbers do not belong in the Hall of Fame.”
In fact, no numbers at all! Instead, a Tough Mudder race between candidates. At the end, we literally scrape the grit off of them and measure it to see who has the most.
That’s a standard parents and coaches nationwide should instill in every kid teeing up a T-ball swing.
That’s right, parents. Whether your child tees up a T-ball swing, or shoots at the basketball ring, or tries to score a field-down on the gridskin, they should remember Sandberg’s sage words: Numbers are EVERYTHING.
Fantasy Player That Deserves To Die A Slow Painful Death
Tyreek Hill. I just needed a few points from Hill to stay in the money last week, and instead I got BUTTFUCKED by the Chiefs’ gameplan. Do you know how awful it is to sit there for three fucking hours while Collinsworth is like, “Looks like they’ll be using Hill as a decoy the whole way through!” I ground through my molars by halftime. He’s the most explosive player on Kansas City, and he got seven fucking touches in that game. I’m gonna cut myself.
Curt Schilling’s Facebook Lock Of The Week: Patriots (-5.5)
Schilling 2016 record: 8-10-1
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your final 2016 chopping block:
Mike McCoy – FIRED!
Rex Ryan – FIRED!
Jeff Fisher - FIRED!
Gary Kubiak – RETIRED!
Gus Bradley - FIRED!
Chip Kelly – FIRED!
Chuck Pagano – JUH?!
(*-potential midseason firing)
I’m crazy excited for Kyle Shanahan and Colin Kaepernick to join forces. If Kaep sticks around, I give it until Week 3 or so until “anonymous” leaks come out about his poor work ethic and self-interest. It’s gonna be awesome. I never thought I’d see the day when another owner stole Dan Snyder’s No. 1 Brat trophy off the mantel, but Jed York is getting real, real close. I can’t wait to tell my grandkids about what a shitbag he was. “I was there, sonny!”
Great Moments In Poop History
Just a reminder that next week is the dreaded Super Bowl bye week, which means I’m compiling the annual POOPOROO of poop stories from you, fair reader. So send them in. Meanwhile, here’s reader Paul with a story I call WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE POOPING:
I spent most of my holiday break stuffing my face, drinking beer, and not doing any kind of physical activity except walking from my bed to the couch and back, or driving to a relative’s house. This all added up to me taking a pretty big and horrifyingly smelly dump on Christmas morning. My wife and I had already exchanged gifts, and we had gotten each other spray bottles of Poo-Pourri, but in my haste to get to the bathroom I left mine downstairs. I do my business, dick around on Twitter for a bit, and then clean up and flush. As I exit the bathroom, my wife has come upstairs into our room to start getting ready for the family parties.
At this point I should let you know that by Christmas morning my wife was about 11 weeks pregnant. This is apparently within the prime window for nausea and morning sickness, which was hitting her pretty badly. I opened the door, walked out, and the smell of my poop started to fill our bedroom pretty quickly. Even with the fan on the smell of this abomination could not be dlitued. As the smell hit my wife’s nostrils, she laughed and joked that it smelled horrible. It did! Then, still joking, but with a bit more seriousness in her tone, said “I think your poop is going to make me throw up.”
The smell of my monstrosity caused my pregnant wife to throw up. I felt a unique type of shame twinged with pride. I was proud that my disgusting body could produce something with such force. But I was filled with shame because my wife has had trouble keeping meals down and I knew I was useless to help her with this part of the pregnancy. All in all she took it in stride, and my siblings found it hilarious while my parents just looked at me with pure revulsion when they overheard the story.
That’s pretty damn cool on her part. One time I cooked chicken when my wife was pregnant and she hated the smell so much she nearly threw me off the balcony.
Gametime Snack of the Week
Peanut butter pretzel bites! It’s like a Combo, only CLOSED! This is one of those snacks where you have to eat it all in one bite. Sometimes I like to bite halfway through to see how much peanut butter I’m actually getting, but that’s a mistake. You can’t pussyfoot around like a moron and bite it in half or else there will be SHARDS of pretzel all over the goddamn place. Respect the pretzel bite’s integrity.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Barada beer! From Syria! Here’s Elias to break it down:
It was the best of all the beers brewed in Syria. You can see from the picture, it was made in small batches and bottled by hand. Because of this, every bottle tastes a little different and they are not always filled to the same level. Still, you can get them at the military-run stores and they only cost about fifty cents a bottle. I can’t tell you how goddamn many of these I drank during the year I spent. They’re half a liter, half a dollar, and beer enough.
I have to say that I’m a bit worried about quality control when every bottle looks different and is filled to a different level. I feel like the odds of you getting a shell casing in your beer increase 90 percent with this kind of production method. Still… HAND-BOTTLED! I bet that would play well on a Danny Meyer drink menu. THEY MUST SERVE IT AND CHARGE A HIDEOUS MARKUP.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“Okay, so poop is flammable. But it can’t be wet, right? You try to light wet poop, you got nothin’. But if you let it dry, or just eat lots of uncooked rice, you’ll get yourself a nice dry brick of tinder. I actually store my old droppings in a wood box and then hang the box in a tree. That high air… that gets the turds good and aired out, okay? Then you can pick them up and use them anytime. I don’t even wrap them. They’re hard enough where they don’t get any brown on your water bottle or saltines. But make sure they’re all the way dry! I took the box down too quick once and was in for a BIG surprise when I opened my bag at Baton Rouge.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
U Turn, which is not a good movie by any means. But it DOES feature a sex scene between Jennifer Lopez and Nick Nolte, so hooray for that. I’m still recovering.
Gratuitous Miller’s Crossing Quote
“You double-cross once… where’s it all end? An interesting ethical question.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.