CHARGERS MOVE A 360 LOSE

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Los Angeles Chargers

You can take sides, but there is no winner in the move of the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles, where they will play the next two years in a 30,000 seat soccer venue.

The City of San Diego is angered and devastated and Los Angeles welcomes the Chargers like the arrival of a Wal-Mart. The National Football League also cannot be happy about a franchise that has become a failing pile of garbage.

I will not use this space to destroy Dean Spanos, whose family had the money to build a stadium on their own dime – many other loyal fans and writers have already done that.

The final end game came when the latest stadium referendum was overwhelmingly rejected in November. Voters triple-dog-dared the team to move, and Dean Spanos was more than happy to stick his tongue to the flagpole. The move was made final not with the decency of a press conference, but a Dear John letter and makeshift logo on social media.

At least Stan Kroenke said straight out that in his mind the NFL would not work and continue to take a backseat to baseball in St. Louis, a city that would had made more sense for Chargers relocation.

It was now or never for Spanos to prove his threat not to be a bluff. The Chargers had until Tuesday to give the NFL its answer, at which time the Raiders would have the opportunity to set up shop in Inglewood.

So Spanos has decided to swallow the $550 million location fee and move to Kroenke-land, where they only have to pay $1 per year to be a second-class tenant.

Deano has made his bed and now must lie in it, and do not let the bedbugs bite.

I would like to apologize to Eli Manning, who I was not happy with when he requested the Chargers not to draft him number one overall in 2004. The Manning family identified the San Diego organization as an outfit to steer away from even back then.

Eli wound up with the New York Giants, has had a solid career and has won two Super Bowls. Ben Roethlisberger would be drafted by the Steelers and has three Super Bowl appearances and two rings, and can add to that resume with a win in Sunday’s AFC Championship in New England. Philip Rivers career has been arguably as spectacular, but has just one conference championship game appearance to show for it, to nearly no fault of his own.

And Drew Brees also got out of Dodge and made his legend along with a Super Bowl title in New Orleans.

The Chargers move will really hit home in this year’s Hall of Fame balloting, where LaDainian Tomlinson is likely to be elected first ballot, possibly alongside former Head Coach Don Coryall. Think those enshrinement speeches might be awkward?

Franchise relocations tend to be ugly. The Colts moved to Indianapolis under cover of the night. Art Modell did the unthinkable when he moved the Browns. Eagles owner Leonard Tose tried to move his team to Arizona once after he squandered his fortune at gambling tables. Seattle remains bitter after seeing their NBA team become relevant in Oklahoma. Older baseball fans still don’t forgive the Dodgers and Giants moves to the West Coast or the Milwaukee Braves relocation to Atlanta.

I give the Chargers one sellout at LA Galaxy Stadium this year, when Raiders fans take over the place on what will be an annual basis. In the future their will be more fans driving to Las Vegas to see the Raiders than invest in the Chargers.

As for San Diego, they possibly face a lost generation without NFL football, as the city can now earmark money to expand the convention center to ensure the annual Comic-Con convention does not move to Los Angeles, along with a smaller stadium for San Diego State football, bowl games and possibly MLS soccer.

Yes, America’s Finest City opted for comics over pro football. But I give the LA Chargers experiment 5-10 years. At some point the Spanos family finally begs uncle and sells to owners who then move the team back where it belongs – in the 619.

San Diego – the Chargers will be back.

 

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2008 NFL SIMULATION – MCNABB MUTES CRITICS

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Throughout his 11-year tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, Donovan McNabb went through his share of criticism despite six Pro Bowl appearances and leading his team to a Super Bowl and five conference championship appearances. It came with the territory of playing in a vocal East Coast market.

In the simulation the Eagles appeared in Super Bowls following the 2000 and 2001 seasons, but came up short in the big game both times – so McNabb underwent the same criticism in this alternate reality as in real life.

But in the 2008 simulation, the stars aligned for McNabb and the Eagles despite playing in the NFC East Group of Death.

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The story of the season regarded disparity of records between divisions. The AFC South  and NFC South dominated the NFC North while the AFC East and NFC East destroyed the NFC West.

All four AFC East teams won at least 10 games, but only two made the playoffs, with Brett Favre’s Jets and Matt Cassel’s Patriots missing out. Three teams in the AFC South finished 8-8, but far behind the 15-1 Tennessee Titans. The Chargers easily won the AFC West as the rest of the division had down years. The Chicago Bears and New York Giants likewise both missed the postseason despite 10-6 campaigns.

Then there was the amusing NFC West, won by the 6-10 Seattle Seahawks via tie-breaker over the Cardinals and 49ers. The Seahawks went 4-2 in the division, their only other wins came at Buffalo and at Green Bay.

Adrian Peterson, Larry Johnson and Tennessee rookie Chris Johnson were among those who produced monster numbers on the ground. LaDainian Tomlinson also found pay dirt seven times in a two-game span.

And yes, the Detroit Lions successfully reprised their 0-16 real-life record. The Lions best chance came in the season finale at Green Bay, only for Dan Orlovsky to throw a pick six in the waning minutes. The Packers finished 4-12 in Aaron Rodgers first season behind center, only winning two games outside their wins against Detroit.

The Titans took advantage of their number one seed, dispatching San Diego and Miami en route to the franchises first ever conference championship, leaving Houston and Tampa Bay as the lone teams not to appear in the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers appeared in three faux-NFC Championships in the simulation during the 2000s and lost a back and forth 36-33 decision to New Orleans in the 2008 Wild Card round.

As for the Texans, they have a chance if they get a decent QB and if they scout and draft a certain defensive end with a high motor at the University of Wisconsin.

After claiming the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings appeared in danger of winning a seventh faux-Super Bowl before being blown out 37-7 in the NFC Championship game. The Eagles then proceeded to rout the Titans 29-3 in the Super Bowl, the franchises third championship in five appearances.

In real life the Eagles also finished strong, advancing to the conference championship before falling to the Arizona Cardinals. Per Wikipedia, Football Outsiders also ranked the Eagles as the NFL’s best team on a ‘play-by-play’ basis.

2007 NFL SIMULATION – VI SEED, VI-TIME KINGS

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The 2007 NFL season provided many talking points and storylines. Tom Brady broke the single-season touchdown record as the Patriots eyed a historic mark, on the other end of the spectrum, the Miami Dolphins chased 0-16. Terrell Owens made a spectacle of himself as the Dallas Cowboys earned the NFC’s number one seed. Adrian Peterson broke the single-game rushing record as part as his rookie season and Brett Favre led the Packers back into contention in what appeared to be his NFL swan song.

In November the league was rocked by the death of Washington safety Sean Taylor at age 24, a number five overall pick who became a two-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the league’s most feared players in his all-too brief time win the league.

In real-life the New York Giants parlayed their spot at the playoff table into a Super Bowl championship. In the simulation the Green Bay Packers suffer an even worse gut punch as an even more hated rival won the championship – again.

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In Week 1 the Patriots lost, and the Dolphins won. As late as Week 6 the Patriots and Dolphins tied for the division lead at 4-2. Miami remained in playoff contention for the entire season and finished 8-8 compared to their actual 1-15 mark.

2007 marked a rare year where the Cleveland Browns contended. In real life they missed the playoffs at 10-6 but made the postseason here at 9-7.

The Patriots, Steelers and Jaguars all finished the regular season at 13-3, but a late-season home loss to the Steelers dropped New England to the number three seed. The San Diego Chargers also easily won their division with an 11-5 mark.

The Cowboys won a competitive NFC East, but the worst amongst NFC division leaders. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came away with the top seed at 14-2, followed by the Cardinals whose 13-3 record bested the Packers via tiebreaker.

Being forced to play on Wild Card weekend proved to be Green Bay’s worst nightmare as the Vikings snuck in with the number six seed. The Packers easily swept the regular season series in both real life and simulation. Did not matter, the Vikes won easily at Lambeau 31-21 and Brett Favre would next be seen in purple two years later. Terrell Owens and the Cowboys also went home crying early, losing to Carolina 23-17.

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The Browns playoff appearance was short-lived, and am not even sure they got the memo that they made the postseason, falling to New England 31-0. The Chargers advanced behind a LaDainian Tomlinson touchdown run in the closing seconds to defeat Indianapolis 24-20. The Chargers also won a regular season meeting between the two teams by scoring 31 points in the fourth quarter.

As in real life, the Patriots and Jaguars met in the divisional round, this time in Jacksonville where the Jaguars prevailed 34-24. The Jags bid for a second consecutive faux-AFC Championship ended the following week with a 24-17 loss to the Steelers.

On the NFC side, the Vikings were just warming up as they traveled to Tampa and defeated the Buccaneers 17-13. In the NFC Championship at Carolina the Vikings jumped off to a quick start, Adrian Peterson rushed for 144 yards and scored twice, and the Purple Express was headed to Arizona with a 37-27 win.

Super Bowl XLII featured teams with faux Super Bowl records of 5-0 and 4-0 respectively. Fast Willie Parker scored his fifth touchdown of the playoffs with a late fourth quarter score, but proved as just a consolation tally as Minnesota won 26-13 with Adrian Peterson taking MVP honors.

2006 NFL SIMULATION: THE LONGEST YARD

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The grind of pro football begins with off-season workouts and a grueling training camp along with a four-game exhibition season followed by 16 regular season games and playoffs. Injuries test the depth of every spot of a 53-man active roster and practice squad.

Often it comes down to a play or series of plays sometime in January, and the end result is frequently heartbreak and defines a franchise and player careers.

One such case highlights this 2006 NFL simulation.

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The Patriots started 0-3, but went on to win their next 13 games and throttled the Steelers in a marquee Wild Card round matchup. The Ravens became the eighth team in the simulation to finish the regular season, and the sixth to ultimately lose in the postseason. Baltimore stunningly lost to Jacksonville 42-3 in the divisional round. The rest of the AFC provided little drama with the Chargers and Jags easily winning their divisions. After a 4-1 start, the Indianapolis Colts proved to again be a massive disappointment, losing their next nine games.

The NFC provided no dominant team, with the Eagles earning the number one seed followed by Chicago. The Saints did not quite replicate their real-life run to the NFC Championship game but did earn a wild card spot.

The NFC Wild Card round was punctuated by a see-saw game between the Saints and Falcons won by Atlanta with a late Michael Vick touchdown drive. The Packers also earned a playoff slot in Brett Favre’s potential final season and won their first game in Seattle before being routed 55-27 in the divisional round. The other NFC division playoff saw the Falcons blown out in Chicago 40-6, we would know for sure in the months that followed that this would be Michael Vick’s last NFL appearance for a while.

As in real life, the Patriots traveled to San Diego for an AFC divisional playoff. The outcome would be different with the Chargers prevailing 6-0. The Jaguars followed for the AFC Championship and one of the most head scratching finishes in league history.

The Jags led before a LaDainian Tomlinson touchdown run cut the deficit to 31-26. The Chargers got the ball back in the waning moments and had first and goal at the Jacksonville one when Marty Schottenheimer and his coaching staff dialed up the following sequence to ruin Rivers and Tomlinson best chance at a title.

  • Antonio Gates is lined up as an apparent lead blocker but gets the ball, and stuffed for a loss.
  • A handoff to fullback Lorenzo Neal with a similar result.
  • On third and goal from the three Philip Rivers throws into the end zone, incomplete.
  • On fourth down, Tomlinson is finally given the rock but stopped for a loss of five.

Needless to say, Rivers and Tomlinson were not happy as the Jags celebrated their first Super Bowl appearance, leaving Houston, Tampa Bay and Tennessee and the lone franchises not to reach the big game.

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The Jaguars opponent would be the Chicago Bears, who won the NFC Championship in Philadelphia 30-13.

The faux Super Bowl XLI does get credit for being the closest Super Bowl in 14 years, which does not say much. A Thomas Jones touchdown proved to be the lone score as the Bears win their third Super Bowl in four attempts with a rain soaked 13-6 win, highlighting the Lovie Smith/Brian Urlacher era.