Right now there is an obvious sentiment to want to burn all of one’s blue and gold paraphernalia. The San Diego Chargers bowed out in the first round of the playoffs in perhaps their ugliest fashion of this current incarnation of the team.
They weren’t flat out beat, but faltered in a very winnable game. That stings. Certain uncharacteristic demons reared their ugly heads en route to the loss. That the loss was as much about how the Chargers failed to perform rather than the Jets excelling is salt in the wound.
But that means it is just the time to give the team a show of support. Now for how they did, but who they are?
I am thankful for the Chargers. They have given me a great team to watch and support. 13-3 was an exciting run. For a brief time, San Diego flirted with the ranks of the elite.
They ultimately fell, but while I am disappointed at the result (and at the broken glass my powder-blue hat knocked to the floor when launched in frustration after a certain 53 yard scamper), I can keep one thing in mind; that there was a reason the team had such high expectations.
The reason is why I am thankful. That this is a good team taking the field that faltered. It was more embarrassing but somehow less painful during the Ryan Leaf/Craig Whelihan years when the team was not competitive, because there was no hope.
Instead, the team does have hope. It is unrealized still, but I will take a disappointing playoff exit over missing the playoffs entirely.
The team has an array of free agents and a system that seems a key ingredient or two short. Perhaps this will be the catalyst for the team to make more substantive tweaks than a lone free agent and a depth-pick in the first round. If it is, if this is the proverbial kick in the rear that the team needed in order to revamp the team into a tougher group capable of achieving what they have appeared on the verge of for so long, than I am also thankful for the loss.
When Jamal Williams went down and the team faltered to 2-3, it appeared that the array of injuries would be too much for the Chargers. That they would fold up for the year, let the surprising Broncos run away with the AFC West and pack it in for a healthier 2010.
Instead the team showed pluck and a fighting spirit. They overcame their weaknesses by gutting by. They watching unexpected results as a host of rookies, undrafted free agents, waiver pickups, and depth guys all stepped up at different times to provide enough for the team to keep on winning.
If prompted in Week six what was expected, 10-6 would have been considered a decent result for a season gashed by key early injuries. If told 13-3 would be on the billet, one would have been met with an incredulous eye.
The team gave me a full season of excitement. A great Chargers core to watch and support while getting to know this new world of putting word to page about something other than fiction.
So not only am I thankful to the San Diego Chargers for a great year, even in the face of a disastrous end, but I am also thankful for the team introducing me to the world of Bleacher Report. To the world of journalism, amateur that it may be.
If this is Tomlinson's swan song as a San Diego Charger, for all the criticism his 2009 season has brought forth, he still also gets thanks. He was around when the team was terrible. He took the entire offense on his back as the team became relevant again.
If the weight of those years when, in many ways, he was the team led to the current slower, slighter player than we still need to appreciate and give thanks to the burden that he did shoulder for long enough for a worthy team to form around him.
And with a bit more of a personnel reboot likely this offseason as compared to years past, it still has to be remembered that he brought the team to what it is today, and thanks to LaDainian Tomlinson's hall of fame career must also be given.
For all the fun of a great 2009 thank you Chargers, and for the hope of a brighter 2010, good luck and happy hunting.