Monday’s Meditation: A Chargers Connect

Philip Rivers has one of the best offensive line in the NFL. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com
San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews gives a couple of fans two thumbs up at the team's annual Fanfest. Photo: Dennis j. Freeman
San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews gives a couple of fans two thumbs up at the team’s annual Fanfest. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

SAN DIEGO-The San Diego Chargers looks as if they’re ready for the 2013 NFL season. Let’s hope they are. Last season’s 7-9 record is hopefully a thing of the past. It’s a new day for the Chargers. Change has come. That may be a good thing for the Chargers.

They have a new head coach. First round draft pick D.J. Fluker and linebacker Manti Te’o  leads a group of rookies expected to make an immediate impact for the team.The Chargers have a solid group of Pro-Bowl-level players on their roster,  including tight end Antonio Gates, safety Eric Weddle and quarterback Philip Rivers, to mix in with all of that young blood.

All that being said, winning ballgames will be all that matters at the end of the day. Rivers know it. Going into his 10th season as a pro, Rivers will most likely be the guy to watch all season. The Chargers will go as far as Rivers will lead them. First-year coach Mike McCoy and the rest of the Chargers band is going to need Rivers to showcase that Pro Bowl quarterback form he’s earned four times in his career.

The team’s success this season is predicated on what Rivers does and does not do. That burden also lands on the broad and Herculean-like shoulders of Fluker, who was selected by the Chargers with the No.11 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to keep Rivers up long enough so he show off that powerful right arm.

At 6-foot-5, 339 pounds, Fluker is big enough to provide Rivers with the eclipse of the sun if he needed it. The pride of Alabama, Fluker is a mountain of a man with enough power to known down a train. But like rookies coming into the NFL the learning curve is always a difficult chore to grasp.

Fluker said the biggest thing he’s noticed about playing football as a pro is the mental preparation.

“Training camp has gone well. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve been getting better at it,” Fluker said after the team had concluded practice during Fanfest. “It’s just about being more consistent. The biggest transition is more mental reps, more time to learn techniques. To be in this league you have to be in that condition to last long.”

Te’o, who knows a thing or two about having to be mentally tough, equates his training camp experience as a roller-coaster ride as well.

“It;s been a lot of ups and downs,” Te’o  said. “But it’s all part of the growing process.”

Lineback Manti Te'o signs autographs for Chargers fans. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman
Lineback Manti Te’o signs autographs for Chargers fans. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

That process is made a little bit easier with the loyalty of Chargers fans.

Chargers  fans are ready to get this 2013 NFL party started. Fans are the lifeline for any NFL team. For the Chargers, fans are an extended part of the family. Fanfest has been a hit for years for the Chargers and their loyal fans. Some of the faces on the team are different. But that’s what’s great about Chargers fans.

Players, coaches and team personnel come and go every year. It doesn’t matter.

Chargers fans are still going to be there. The Bolts have a devoted bunch of followers that scream at the top of their lungs, honk and tailgate in the name of the Chargers.

Chargers fans showed that loyalty by coming out and enduring the heat on Saturday, lining up to take pictures and get autographs from players throughout the stadium after the team had concluded its practice. The Chargers know the art of mingling with the local community.

The ballclub has a plethora of community-based events that they sponsor or take part in, including a number of charity-related activities players engage in. But there’s nothing like an atmosphere where fans can get close and personal and touch an NFL player. Fanfest allows the community to do just that. It truly is about the fans.

Besides catching quarterback Rivers work on his passing game or getting a full view of Fluker pancake somebody for free, Fanfest helps usher in the upcoming football season. The environment around Fanfest is festive and rocking with football fever.

On the field, the Chargers looked like a team fine-tuning its game plan for the first game of the season. The Chargers begin their season-long journey Thursday at Qualcomm Stadium against hotshot Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. A day prior to Fanfest, McCoy spoke on what his experience has been like so far during his initial training camp as head coach.

“You learn something new every day,” McCoy said. “There’s something that comes up that you’ve seen in other places or places you’ve been but you didn’t have that decision about a certain thing, whatever that is. Whether from the first day we had a facility change here, or a change in the itinerary, or an adjustment you have to make when the football team is a little tired. Cutting back reps a little bit or sitting certain players out.

“Something is going to come up every day. I’m going to learn and it’s going to be the first time for me. But it’s been great. I’ve got a great staff here. It’s a great organization so I’ve got a lot of help. Everyone is here, hired to do their job, each person has their responsibility in the organization and I’m going to use everybody.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1066 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.