"There's always a chance they could flub a kick or something," Gaines said.
When it comes to exuberant overconfidence, Chargers fans aren't much different really than any other playoff-starved city. Imagine a rally of this size in Boston this week? Not going to happen. Besides, we only have those for Ray Bourque.
In San Diego, thousands showed up at Qualcomm Stadium yesterday for a rally hosted by rock band P.O.D. to get psyched for Sunday's showdown with the Patriots. This is something you might see down in the Gillette Parking lot the Sunday before the Super Bowl with a few hundred die-hards waving the buses off to Logan. God forbid the Chargers actually win. That's only three more weeks of rallying their So. Cal. brains out. Any word on if they started chanting "Dodgers suck" at any of these?
Pats fans, of course, scoff at this action as the inexperienced preparation of a bunch of yahoo fans. New England fans don't need theme songs or rallies to get them ready for the game. They don't do that anymore. And they don't chant "Yankees Suck" at Super Bowl championship rallies either. Anymore.
In truth, San Diego fans aren't much different than their Northeastern colleagues of New England, where baseball remains king, even in the offseason. Even with this week's showdown on tap, San Diego radio stations were flooded with talk of Padres legend Tony Gwynn's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And radio hosts took glee this morning in trashing their neighbor to the north, Barry Bonds, for the new accusations surrounding him, which was how local sports radio in Boston kicked off the morning as well.
A war of words has opened over the airwaves between the two city's sports radio stations. The San Diego hosts channeled Bonds this morning by referring to Boston as a "totally racist city," but only after Boston hosts asked how many of the Chargers rallies were held at Mexican restaurants. What, and you thought they were going to debate how many men the Pats would stack the line with? Right.
In fact, on a SignOnSanDiego.com message board debating what the loudest crowd in Qualcomm history might have been, many of the responses revolved around the 1998 NL Championship Series and a Chargers-Chiefs game in 1996, when the crowd, listening on thousands of radios, erupted when the Padres beat the Dodgers for the '96 division. Go Chargers.
That's reminiscent, ironically, of the last time the Pats and Chargers faced off, when the loudest roar of the day from the Gillette crowd came when the Red Sox' 10-1 victory over the Yankees was announced. Still, despite the powerful allure the Red Sox have on New England, the Patriots are 1A, selling out every weekend -- certainly not the case in San Diego. Which is why the team doesn't want New England getting any ideas.
The Chargers have limited sales of tickets to this weekend's game to only people with a southern California home address in the hopes of creating a home-field advantage. "Residency will be based on your credit card billing address," the warning on the TicketMaster form reads. "Orders by residents outside of Southern California will be canceled without notice and refunds given." The Chicago Bears are employing a similar policy for their game against the Seahawks this weekend.
Suffice to say, this isn't playing well in New England, where fans are wondering if the practice is illegal. It's not even playing all that well in San Diego, where some fans are up in arms about why the team decided to make such an unclassy move. Ron Burgundy be damned.
To be fair, this did apply to a limited number of tickets. And frankly, they've probably seen what the pretentious caravans of Red Sox fans have wrought on stadiums over the years. So, can you blame them?
The Chargers haven't had problems selling out. According to an early December press release, the team had sold out 20 consecutive regular-season and postseason games (one) since 2004. Still, the same release announced that 6,000 tickets were still available for the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals. The last time those many tickets were available for any one game in New England, Drew Bledsoe was barley out of college.
There's talk now that, as of Jan. 1, the Chargers are free to talk to other cities about moving the franchise after the 2008 season. Las Vegas has already come calling, but the team has declined to listen to anyone's offer, at least in the midst of this playoff run. Remind you of the bygone Orthwein days?
Despite a 14-2 record and the most exciting player in the game in LaDainian Tomlinson, the future of San Diego's franchise is in doubt, rather than entering its golden days. And if the Chargers do indeed lose to the Patriots this Sunday, everything will be tossed into a whirlwind, culminating in the possible firing of head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
Of course, there's only a one percent chance of that happening.
But at least the conversation and debate on both coasts is stimulating.
"Tom Brady will never win another Super Bowl in his career," the radio host for XX sports radio 1090 AM in San Diego said this morning. He later backtracked that statement a little, adding, "as a quarterback."