It doesn’t matter what the San Die-, oops excuse me, the Los Angeles Chargers do this season.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “How could a championship contending team, like the Chargers, not matter? The sports world loves to dismiss a team that has a proven track record of coming up short in big moments. No matter the win-loss record.
There are many different reasons why the Chargers receive little respect. Many view them as the Angels or Clippers to the Rams who are viewed as the Dodgers or Lakers. Another misconception is LAC is incapable of winning close contests. Yet, they’re 6-1 in games decided by eight points or less. Oh, and there is still this idea the Chargers still can’t kick field goals when Mike Badgley (a rookie) has nailed 37 of his 39 opportunities.
Even after beating AFC contenders in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, you get the feeling that no one is quite sold on Los Angeles.
The reality is it just doesn’t matter what the Chargers do because they are in a lose-lose situation. Even if they win the Super Bowl, no one will care. Here’s why:
All that glitters is not gold, but if the Chargers win the Super Bowl a new argument will emerge. One that is based on some teams that fell off a cliff after their sprint to glory.
The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2013 then missed the playoffs the next season. The Philadelphia Eagles won last season and they need some help to make this year’s postseason.
Both teams were talented and had a few things fall their way en route to a Lombardi trophy, but received scrutiny for being mediocre afterwards. That quick overnight success, that flash in a pan team isn’t remembered favorably. They get old and stale in a hurry.
So, for the Chargers, winning the Super Bowl will be all fine and dandy. However, it will be more like “to be continued” because the following season is so crucial in judging a team from a historical perspective in the NFL.
The Chargers will either be vaguely remembered as that “lucky” squad or a “legit” team that dominated for a few seasons. Even if they win big once.
Rivers Crowning Moment
Another theme that could emerge from what really is a team milestone is the singling out of future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers.
Rivers was drafted in the 2004 class that featured Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Big Ben and Eli won two rings and the knock against Rivers has been about the empty ring finger he has. Statistically, the Chargers signal caller has been on par with them and even has more touchdowns than them with fewer interceptions.
Los Angeles’ frugal spending habits during Rivers primitive years cost him a couple playoff opportunities (2010-2012). In addition,injuries and simply bad kicking late in the fourth quarter of various contests has cost him as well.
To not absolve him of any wrongdoing, Rivers has had his fair share of issues as well. He was and still is susceptible to turning it over in bunches, even though his career interceptions number is relatively low (174).
Separating the great athlete from the team is a common theme these days. We remember Aaron Rodgers run to the Lombardi trophy, not the Green Bay Packers. We remember Eli’s two miracle throws, not the New York Giants.
Winning a Super Bowl would wash away all the pain of coming up short so many times. Not for the Chargers, but for Rivers.
That’s Nice, But…
“How close are the Rams to winning it all?” “What will it take for the Chicago Bears to get back here?” “How special is Drew Brees or Russell Wilson?” “How ‘bout those Cowboys?!”
Those are some questions that could be asked if the Chargers win the Super Bowl after hearing “that’s nice, but…”
Historically, the Chargers have been nothing more than a small market team. The stigma that stains their reputation is one that is tied to their old home in San Diego.
During the Dan Fouts era (in the ‘90s), the Chargers were always coming up short in big moments. The one time they made it to the Super Bowl they ended up getting walloped by a San Francisco 49ers team in the midst of a dynasty.
That has carried over to the contemporary Chargers.
As mentioned, with Rivers at the helm, the Bolts have experienced heartbreak in many instances. They were prohibitive favorites in 2006 and 2007 but suffered meltdowns against the New England Patriots twice. They went 13-3 in 2009 only to have a physically imposing New York Jets team smack them around during the Mark Sanchez-Rex Ryan era.
A Super Bowl victory could get the Chargers the spotlight they deserve, but it could be quickly shifted to the team they defeated, focusing on how great they are.
Sure, you could argue and say this is very pessimistic, but after every Chargers win we typically hear “yeah, but…” They could win the rest of their games and lose in the playoffs and you’ll hear “I told you so” a lot sooner than you’d hear people give credit to this team if they win it all.
It’s simply a lose-lose conundrum for the Chargers.