Updated: Sep 13
As fans tear away the wrapping paper on a brand new season of Charger football, we can't help but to dream. Dreams, for all of their ambiguity and doublespeak, still prevail upon truths. If you think about it, what is more honest than a dream?
Like cons marking time in Shawshank Penitentiary, fans are penned in by hope. Whether you regard hope as dangerous--the way the character "Red" did--or restorative and vital as "Andy" did: hope will not protect you from a torn meniscus.
We hope that this might be the year we breakout, the same way we once hoped that Stan Humphries' throwing arm was only sprained, not broken. Hope--on both sides of the coin--has a way of letting Chargers fans down, but that's the bargain we've struck.
But no better distractions exist, or we would find them--fret over them--if the prospects of the new NFL season were viewed with the same cynicism, frustration, and pain of the prior fifty.
In any other year, possibilities and expectations are enough to generate interest: the rookie left guard who could cement that porous offensive line; the edge rusher who might have the acumen, and speed to hoard sacks and still detonate staple running plays; the quarterback; and the lock down corner who might stay healthy for the entire season.
We can scratch the last one out already: Cornerback J.C. Jackson did not play in the preseason nor suffer an injury in camp, but still went under the surgeon's knife two weeks ago.
See how dangerous hope can be?
Everyone needs a vice. Football, and all the implicit baggage that attends it, is mine. I've made no apologies seeing as enough scoundrels exist amongst us to insulate me from feeling shame.
Fans like me pine for opening day from the moment their team was eliminated the previous winter; their entwined fortunes occupying enough head space to manifest phantasmagoria even while sleeping. Dreaming of summer's end, an autumnal wind, and another shot at a championship. No, not that Autumn Wind.
My team's last championship was in 1963, in something called the American Football League—more than a decade before I was born, and years before the Super Bowl was invented. You learn the dates in response to regurgitated taunts like, WHERE'S YOUR RINGS?
January 5th, 1964. San Diego Chargers 51. Boston Patriots 10.
That's right. Six weeks separated the funeral proceedings of President Kennedy and the last time the Chargers won anything. Not that anyone should let a small thing like national grief get in the way of drinking Budweisers, smoking Cuban cigars, and gloating over those obnoxious Bostonians.
Ancient history? Yes. Historical fact still.
You know the old Peanuts bit where Lucy holds the football? Leaves on the ground. Raven haired Lucy offering to hold the ball for that rotund headed Charlie Brown to kick. He hesitates knowing that she has gotten his goat before...? You know the one.
This autumnal postcard encapsulates life as a fan. With every new season comes new possibilities, an unblemished record, and one more opportunity to rise above the ignominy and shame of your calamitous past.
I'm never sure if the Chargers are Lucy, and if I am Charlie Brown, or if the Chargers are Charlie Brown and the League is Lucy. Am I the football? Why does the poor bastard keep trying to kick the football anyway? Had a kicking tee not been invented yet?
Charlie Brown and Lucy must have been collaborators with author Charles Schultz, Ken Stabler to Dave Casper consummating the Holy Roller, the universe, Ed Hochuli, and Nate Kaeding.
Charlie Brown not only wears yellow, Lucy is preferential to blue. The image is too perfect to shake.