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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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.

 

1995 NFL SIMULATION: CLEVELAND’S LAST STAND

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In an alternate universe, the Cleveland Browns open the 1995 season on fire, winning seven of its first eight games.

Coach Bill Belichick then called the players and coaching staff in for a meeting to deliver news he wanted the team to hear before it leaked out to the media. Owner Art Modell had failed in getting funding for a new stadium and accepted an offer to move the team to Baltimore for the 1996 season.

Belichick then told his players there was only one thing left to do…

“Let’s win the whole freaking thing,” he said.

With that, Belichick presented a cardboard cutout of Modell. With each win, a piece of clothing would be removed from the vilified owner. The expectation was that cutout Art would be disgustingly nude after Super Bowl XXX.

But Cleveland got one final kick in the pants, literally.

The Browns storyline was just one of many throughout the league in 1995, which led to one of the most interesting seasons ever.

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  • The league welcomed the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars as expansion teams. As in real life, the Jaguars were respectable with a 4-12 record while the Panthers made the playoffs as the NFC’s number one wild card  at 10-6. Was the simulation out of line? Not really, if the NFL only counted the final 11 games the Panthers would likely had qualified, as the team finished strong at 7-9 after an 0-5 start. A .636 percentage over a complete season would had translated to 10-6. Just the fact that it took the team those first five games to jell eliminated any realistic playoff possibility.
  • In real life, the Browns were 4-4 when news of the Baltimore news broke, which distracted the team for the rest of a 5-11 season. The team grades out much better for the entire season in sim, with Cleveland earning the AFC’s number two seed at 13-3.
  • The San Francisco 49ers become the third team to go undefeated in the sim since 1970, and the second to finish the regular season 16-0. Throw out Carolina’s two divisional games against San Francisco, and the Panthers were 10-4 in its other 14 games.

As in real life, quarterback Jim Harbaugh led the Indianapolis Colts into the playoffs and made noise. The Colts won at Buffalo in the wild card round 24-10 while the San Diego Chargers defeated the Houston Oilers 31-23.

The Green Bay Packers opened postseason play at Clemson Memorial Stadium, temporary home of the Carolina Panthers for the 1995 season and 140 miles away from Charlotte (120 miles from Atlanta). The clock struck midnight in Death Valley as Green Bay easily won 34-3. The other NFC Wild Card Game at Soldier Field became an instant classic. Bears quarterback Erik Kramer completed a Hail Mary pass on the final play of regulation, only for the extra point to be missed, allowing the Vikings to escape with a 24-23 win.

The Divisional Round was highlighted by the final game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. It appeared that the Browns would exorcise the ghosts of postseasons past as they clung to a late 10-9 lead. The stadium demolition began moments after kicker John Carney booted an unlikely 58-yard field goal to give San Diego a 12-10 win.

The other AFC divisional playoff was a repeat of the real-life Colts v. Chiefs matchup at frigid Arrowhead Stadium where the game time temperature was 11 degrees (not close to the -6 as the NFL claims!). Unlike real life, Lin Elliott does not get the yips and Kansas City ended the Colts season with a 27-10 win. The Chiefs letdown came the following week as a 27-17 home loss sent the Chargers to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

In the NFC the real-life Packers/Cowboys championship game occurred in the divisional round with an all too familiar result to Green Bay fans, as the Cowboys prevailed 28-14. Meanwhile the 49ers grinded out a tough 13-9 win over the Vikings.

For the first time in the sim (compared to five times in real life), the Cowboys and 49ers met for the NFC Championship, with the Niners returning to their fourth Super Bowl (first in eight years) with a 22-14 win. Meanwhile the Cowboys Super Bowl drought has now reached 27 years.

The 49ers came to Tempe, Arizona as the first NFL team ever with a chance to complete a 19-0 season, as the Super Bowl XXX matchup with the Chargers replicated the actual Super Bowl XXIX.

George Seifert’s bid for history crashed in the most stunning upset in Super Bowl history. Two Stan Humphries TD passes to Ronnie Harmon completed a shocking 28-10 win to give San Diego its first professional sports championship. It also marked the AFL/AFC’s ninth Super Bowl title in 30 years.

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1980 NFL SIM: IT IS DETROIT – IT IS THE SUPER BOWL!

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In recent years Gary Danielson has become known for his college football analysis where he remains convinced that the SEC is the only conference that matters.

But back in the day Danielson was a pretty good quarterback. He played his college ball at the University of Purdue – yes, in the Big Ten, that conference that always gets killed by the SEC come bowl season.

His pro career spanned 13 seasons with the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. He only started all 16 games once – in 1980.

And in KACSPORTS sim Danielson helps lead the 1980 Lions to the promised land in dramatic fashion.

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It should be noted that their were no true powerhouse teams in 1980 – the Raiders and Eagles met in the Super Bowl, a wild card against a number two seed. About a dozen teams could have had a shot if the cards fell right.

The Lions improved dramatically after Danielson missed the 1979 season (when coaches did inane things like play starting QB’s in the final exhibition game) and the team went 2-14.

Behind offensive Rookie Of the Year Billy Sims, the Lions improved to 9-7 in real life, just missing out on a division title. In the sim Detroit exceeded that benchmark with a 12-4 record and the NFC’s top seed.

Don’t ask me about the hate towards the Dolphins (1-15) or Vikings (2-14) in the simulation. Do not have an explanation on the apparent discord towards Don Shula or Bud Grant.

The San Francisco 49ers showed promise with a 9-7 season, although the team claims to remain committed to Steve DeBerg, they also wanted to looked at the second string quarterback they drafted in the third round the year before. The coaching staff feels he provides a change of pace…

The playoffs would begin with a AFC Wild Card clash between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts.

The defending champion Steelers would give up their crown, falling in a home playoff game for the fifth time in six years. The top-seeded Chargers advanced to Super Bowl XV as Don Coryall joined George Allen as the only coaches to coach two different teams to the faux big game.

After six home playoff losses in eight years to the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys returned the favor by defeating the Rams in Anaheim in the divisional round – but Dallas would fall in the NFC Championship to Detroit.

In the Super Bowl, the Chargers appeared headed towards the championship as they went into the fourth quarter leading 24-7. But San Diego would endure a meltdown that will be talked about as long as pro football is played.

  • With 12:40 remaining John Cappelletti fumbles deep in his own territory with the Lions recovering
  • Detroit would do little inside the red zone, as Danielson would be sacked by former teammate Jim Laslavic and the Lions settled for a field goal to make the score 24-10.
  • The Chargers move the ball on their ensuing drive, but Coryall channels his inner-Mike Sherman and elects to punt on fourth and 1 from the Detroit 38. The punt would pin the Lions back to their own three.
  • It would take all of four plays for Detroit to navigate the 97 yards. Billy Sims gained 37 yards on two quick runs, and Danielson fires a 42-yard touchdown to Horace King to make it 24-17.
  • The Chargers move the ball and chew up clock, and Detroit burns its first timeout after the 2-minute warning. San Diego ultimately punts from the Detroit 45 and the Lions would start 86 yards away from the tying score. It would not take long, Danielson throws a 63-yard score to Leonard Thompson to tie Super Bowl XV at 24-24.
  • With less than a minute remaining, the Chargers go hurry up in an attempt to get into field goal range. They get a first down, but a draw play to John Cappelletti goes horribly awry. The Heisman Trophy winner who played on three faux-World Champion Los Angeles Rams teams fumbles for the second time in the quarter, and Detroit recovers.
  • At this point Danielson could just take a knee and then kick a 51-yard field goal, but they attempt to move the ball instead. The first play results in a fumble, but luckily Detroit recovers.
  • The Lions finally get close enough, and the game ends with a 29-yard Eddie Murray field goal, and the Super Bowl trophy went to Detroit.

So Bill Buckner pulled a Cappelletti in the World Series and Jordan Speith Cappelletti’d the 12th hole. Now you know where the term originated…

 

 

1978 NFL SIM: LA DYNASTY AS DALLAS DOOMED AGAIN

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1978 represented a huge year for the National Football League. The schedule expanded to 16 games, from Labor Day weekend through Christmas. An additional wild card team was also added in each conference along with an additional tier of playoffs. New rules also ushered in a new era of offensive-minded football.

In the KACSPORTS sim version of the season, the Dallas Cowboys stood poised to make history after a 16-0 regular season to go along with the Cowboys 14-0 season in 1971.

In the postseason however, Dallas would be doomed on its own turf by the same familiar nemesis.

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Highlights of the 1978 included…

  • The NFC East’s dominance of the AFC East and the AFC West over the NFC Central were both reflected in the final standings. 1978 marked the first year of rotational inter-conference play.
  • Doug Williams joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and immediately led the third-year expansion club to respectability, winning the NFC Central with a 9-7 record. A closer look at the real-life point differentials explains the parity of the division Chris Berman would soon re-name the ‘NFC Norris’ –  Buccaneers -18, Bears -21, Vikings -12, Lions -10, Packers -20. Another 16-game sample size would produce a different result.
  • In real-life, the Houston Oilers burst onto the scene behind rookie running back Earl Campbell. But the sim was not nearly as kind to Luv’ Ya Blue as Houston finished 7-9.
  • The San Diego Chargers stumbled out of the gate in the actual season thanks in part to the ‘Holy Roller’ loss to the Raiders. Although they also lost to the Raiders in Week 2 of the sim, the Chargers still finished 10-6 and earned a wild card spot.

All signs pointed towards a reprise of the actual classic Steelers/Cowboys Super Bowl in Miami. It would not happen.

The Chargers won the Wild Card Game in Cleveland and then shocked Pittsburgh at Three Rivers, as the Steelers season would end with a home playoff loss for a fourth consecutive year. San Diego’s run ended with a loss to Oakland in the AFC Championship, sending the Raiders to their first Super Bowl in 11 years.

Dallas had the fortune to draw and easily dispatch the upstart Buccaneers in the divisional round. Unfortunately, the Rams arrived for the NFC Championship Game and for the fifth time in seven season ended the Cowboys season at Texas Stadium with a 14-13 win, giving the Rams their sixth Super Bowl trip while Dallas has not won a single NFC title despite a 99-15 regular season record over eight years.

So Steelers lose four years in a row at home and the Cowboys to the Rams at home five times. Still think Hillary Clinton winning six coin tosses in a row is not a coincidence?

It must be noted the Cowboys did win at Los Angeles in a faux-regular season game.

The Raiders and Rams made the cross-country trek to the Orange Bowl in Miami. New coach Ray Malavasi picked up where Chuck Knox left off, and the Rams completed the unprecedented three-peat and fourth Super Bowl title overall with a 10-7 win. The Raiders would be doomed because of four missed field goals by Errol Mann.

He had to be sickest man in America.

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John Madden made a Super Bowl appearance in his final season as Raiders coach.

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