The holiday season is, once again, upon us, presumably leading NFL fans everywhere to ponder what their favorite team(s) might be hoping for next season.
1. For the sake of redundancy, I will lump the obvious ones together: an improved offensive line, a new general manager who does not subscribe to A.J. Smith's end-of-season-fire-sale mentality; and a head coach who isn't always on the sidelines smiling and twiddling his thumbs, but who displays rabid enthusiasm like Pete Carroll, John Fox, and the Harbaugh brothers. Smith has engineered the loss of Drew Brees, LaDanian Tomlinson, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, Kassim Osgood, Steve Gregory, Mike Tolbert, and Jacob Hester, among others, who could have really helped the now-sub-mediocre team.
2. The all-powerful Elixir of Yellow Flag Repellent from the elusive grotto of the blind zebras. Of course it's not real. Neither is Santa. The Chargers are ranked the 17th most penalized team in the league this season, having averaged 6.4 penalties per game, 7.7 in the last three games, and a whopping nine in last week's loss to Carolina. The team is undisciplined and I believe that a team reflects its coach.
3. Access to the (also fictional) metal alloy adamantium to fuse with Ryan Mathew's skeleton to make him less fragile. Mathews broke his other clavicle last week and is out for the rest of the season. Who knows what heights he could reach if healthy for an entire season.
4. An owner who cares about the team, about the fans, and about hosting Super Bowls which have the power to promote and bring important revenue to both the city and the team. There has been talk of building a new stadium in San Diego for years. If a new stadium does not reach fruition, the Chargers are rumored to be the team most likely to go to Los Angeles, where they played prior to 1961.
5. A loyal fan base so that home games are not consistently untelevised. How embarrassing is that? I had season tickets for over ten years when I lived in San Diego and we went to every home game, every year. Even the 2000 season when they were 1-15 under the "leadership" of Ryan Leaf. In fact, my daughter, who was five at the time, asked, "Why do you keep going to the games if they never win?" "Because we're fans, honey, and that's what real fans do!"
Happy Holidays everyone and good luck to your teams!