Why I am a Chargers Fan – By Lee Wakefield (@Wakefield90)
I started watching football in around 2006 or 2007, I was at college and I was starting to experience the phenomenon known as the Sunday Fear for the first time in my life. I was no longer in the comfort zone of going to school and being around all my mates every day as I went to a different college to a lot of my school friends, so I’ll be honest it wasn’t the easiest time of my life.
On a Sunday afternoon, my family and I would settle down for Sunday tea – or “dinner” if you’re a southerner – big roast, lots of yorkshire puds and gravy, magical. I’d then have a few hours to myself before having to prep for college the next day, then bed… However, one Sunday, I was flicking through the sports channels and came across the NFL on Sky Sports.
I kept it on for a bit – I’ve always been sports mad, I still am and will give most things a watch for 5 minutes at least.
I kept it on for way longer than 5 minutes and even though I’ll tell the truth and say, I can’t remember who the game was between or at the time, even what was going on half of the time but I was hooked and watching the NFL became my Sunday evening pastime and still is!
At some point in my very early days of being an NFL fan, there was a game involving the San Diego Chargers, again, I couldn’t tell you who it was against but I do distinctly remember the guy wearing the #21 jersey for San Diego and how much the broadcast team were talking about him.
This, of course, was none other than LaDainian Tomlinson.
LT was electric, he did it all, he was a superstar and he was my first NFL love. He was also just coming off his record breaking season, where he rushed for 28 touchdowns (he also caught 3 more) and he was almost always the best player on the field.
He just seemed faster than everyone else. Stronger too. He would do things that were just really, really impressive and in a time when there weren’t as many do-it-all running backs as there are now, LT did do it all.
I guess as a novice and a British novice at that, I would guess that running back is the easiest position to understand when you’re first getting to know the sport… I mean, the clue is in the name, “running” back, right?
I guess LT just captured my imagination more than any player at the time, to a point where, outside of a few QB’s who were big at the time, I can’t remember any other player I really liked when I first started watching the sport – I was all about LT.
Obviously, time goes on and I’m sat there thinking, “yeah, I’m into this now”, and with that, as a sports junkie, comes to selection of a team to root for and that was obviously an easy one for me.
LaDainian Tomlinson is the reason I’m a Chargers fan. LT made me an NFL fan but in true Chargers fashion, there simply had to be some kind of heartbreak around the corner… So in 2010 when Tomlinson left for the Jets, he also gave me my first NFL heartbreak too.
They say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes but last year when the Chargers played the Titans at Wembley, I was lucky enough to be invited to a small, NFL UK event where LT was speaking, I said hello, as did everyone and he just seemed like the most normal guy. No airs and graces, just a guy who would talk football and about the Chargers all day if you could.
A true gent.
So here’s to you LT, thanks for making me a Charger.