I sneak downstairs and switch the TV on while my parents and sister sleep upstairs, unaware of the tension about to unfold. Having just awoken from a late nap, I am relieved that I have not missed a second of the 1:20am kick-off of the Thursday Night Football match between the Chargers and the Chiefs. The game feels like a playoff game, and the winner would go on to take first place in the AFC West Division.
Settling down on the sofa, I crack open an ice-cold Pelforth, my favorite French beer, and gaze at a Blue Tang trailing behind the Clownfish in my dad’s aquarium, vying for attention. It is a brisk Thursday morning in the town of Twickenham.
On the outskirts of London, Twickenham is a bustling, multicultural community: the sort of place that couples a biting wind with a granite sky this time of year.
I typically watch the Chargers games in my university apartment 40 minutes west of here, but I have come back to west London to visit the family for the Christmas holidays, and this is where my tale takes place.
In my home, in London: NFL fans are few and far between. This city—this country—is dominated by a loud, passionate and often abrasive soccer culture. Of the few NFL fans here, still fewer are Los Angeles Chargers fans.
I open my laptop to Skype a good friend with whom I watch most Chargers games when we’re not working late. On the other end is Steve, a fellow Chargers fan I met online, who lives 450 miles from me to the north in Scotland.
Steve was a Quarterback and Wide Receiver for three different teams, the last of which was the stereotypically named “Aberdeen Roughnecks.” His American football knowledge among the best of anyone around here, is far superior to mine. I lean on his vast expanse of football knowledge, as I’ve done as long as we’ve been friends.
Far away in Inglewood, California, I imagine a slight breeze raising ripples on the calm surface of Rivers Lake: carrying them over in the direction of the commanding SoFi Stadium. How is the air over there? It must be charged with an electricity that screams “rivalry.”
Mimi, the family cat, posts herself directly in front of the TV, watching with a curious patience. Andre Roberts returns a kickoff for 75 long yards to open the game. She seems to know there will be no touchdowns, nor any mice.
Mimi decides she’s had enough as the drive fails short of the endzone. Sharing my dissatisfaction with the sequence, she departs the scene through a cat-flap to begin her nightly hunting expedition.
Despite Parham’s worrying concussion results in an empty opening drive by the Offense. Steve and I fear the worst for Donald Parham and decide it’ll be a tougher night than expected: we settle in for a long ride.
No end of fight was shown for Parham: these Chargers showed Kansas City that any preconceptions about this restructured LA team wilting down the stretch were sorely mistaken.