Season in Review – LA Chargers

By Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90)

Welcome to the Chargers season review, by me, a fan.

It’s January and unlike January last year, there has been no playoff football for the Chargers.

Yes, 2019 didn’t end in a Superbowl either, so it was a failure – Just as this season has been but at least the book closed with hope last season. This season, the book closed with questions, and lots of them.


Entering the Season


Well, at least we get to start on a positive note.

Like I alluded to above, yeah getting smoked in the divisional round to the Patriots wasn’t a great way to bow out of the playoffs last year but at least the Chargers had won a playoff game for the first time in what feels like forever and won 12 games in the regular season – Often having to dig deep in those games and get over the hump with a big play, or gutsy play call, or sometimes even a last minute kick.

Optimism was high and some people, fans and media members alike, where talking up the Chargers to make a Superbowl run in 2019. And you know what? The optimism wasn’t misplaced. The team, on paper looked talented and full of playmakers, they’d just come off a 12 win season and their playoff win was one where the coaches out coached the Ravens coaches and they shut down Lamar Jackson almost completely. It looked like everything was coming together.

Thomas Davis came in to sure up the linebacking room and add some experience and steel – Something that was deemed to have been required to stop teams running all over them, like New England did in Foxborough the night the season ended.

Jerry Tillery was added with the 28th overall pick – another mechanism for plugging running lanes but also to add some interior pass rush to match the high quality rushers off the edge that they already possessed.

The signings, whilst not plentiful, seemed sensible and logical. The draft class outside of Tillery contained exciting safety, Nasir Adderley and linebacker Drue Tranquill, and some potential high upside projects, like left tackle, Tray Pipkins – Something the Bolts thought they could afford to wait on, given the talent at their disposal.

It was all looking rosy… Until it wasn’t.

Melvin Gordon started his well publicised contract hold out, Derwin James broke a metatarsal and Russell Okung contracted a Pulmonary oedema.

Adderley then split a hamstring tendon and Tillery was taking longer to adjust to the speed of the NFL than expected and Pipkins wasn’t supposed to play yet…

Where did that sunshine go? Where did out draft class go?

Then the games began.

During the Season


After the early optimism. things weren’t looking great off the field in some respects, the spring felt quite a long time ago but we were going to roll with it and we still backed ourselves. Now the Colts were rolling into town

A prequel for a playoff game perhaps? An early season gut check. 

“At least Hunter Henry was back”, “we can get away with having no Gordon, we’ve got Ekeler and Jackson”, oh how we comforted ourselves.

And Derwin? Well yeah, we’ll miss him badly but he’ll be back around week 8 to lead us into the postseason.

Well, we beat the Colts, just. In overtime. “This is what we do, we can grind wins out against good teams”, “Just like last year”. Like idiots we allowed ourselves to think like this.

The signs were there. We just didn’t know what the signs were yet. Rivers was picked off superbly by Malik Hooker, in the endzone, in this game. Yeah… You know where I’m going. The Chargers, from week 2 onwards well, as the saying goes, Chargered (It’s a phrase that pisses me off whenever I see it, I hate it, it’s what idiots say on the internet to score cheap points or likes but I’ll use it, because this season was just as irritating).

Detroit, week 2 – Rivers threw a pick going for it all instead of just allowing the team to kick a field goal and Austin Ekeler fumbled on the goal line, trying to leap over the pile – Something he’d done successfully earlier in the game. 1-1.

Houston another winnable game goes awry and later Denver and Tennessee…

Gordon was back by now but looking extremely rusty. The whole holdout thing was how exactly not to do it, a disaster for all parties from start to finish.

When I say Gordon was back, it was just in time to fumble literally inches away from scoring a game winning touchdown in Tennessee as the clock ticked its final few ticks.

Image result for melvin gordon fumble tennessee
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

We’re 2-5 and weeks are ticking by, wins that should have been won are slipping through our fingers and players are dropping like flies. Adrian Phillips to a broken arm the latest. The glue of our defense gone.

No Derwin, no Philips, Tillery still not producing, no discernable attempt at fielding competence opposite Haywood at corner, King only present in body. Where has our defense gone?!

Christ this season is falling apart. Like I said, Chargering is irritating at best.

The weirdest game ever – in terms of my post match feeling, at least – followed. At Chicago, week 8.

A game we won as Eddy Piniero missed a walk off field goal. A WIN!

But I was p****d off, we played terribly and didn’t deserve the win. I didn’t feel like celebrating. This wasn’t the team we all thought it was from a year ago. This very much felt like it was papering over some exceptionally large cracks.

I’m eight weeks in now and the issue I mentioned in week 1 has bubbled without exploding in our face yet. It was about to. Through 8 weeks, Rivers had 7 interceptions. Many stupid, needless and costly.

“Rivers is always prone to the odd game like this”, “It’s the line’s fault”, “we’re 3-5, we can bring it back”.

Oh how we deluded ourselves. Well… to add to the delusions. We went and beat Green Bay. Just what we needed. Although it wasn’t. The Chargers would only beat a hapless Jags team the rest of the way.

We all know what happened from here… We threw it all away. Literally and repeatedly.

The team were disjointed on the field and lacked joined-up thinking off it. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, was a casualty and nothing much changed. Was it his fault? Or was it actually the offensive line?

13 more Rivers interceptions, 4 multi-pick games: questions about effort and in-fighting reigned from inside the locker room.

Image result for philip rivers
Image Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty

The end of an era was nigh. Rivers? Lynn? Telesco? All three? Who was going? In the end it only seems like it’s goodbye to Philip Rivers, and hello to, well, we’re not sure yet. Cam Newton or Justin Herbert? Or Tom Brady? Who knows… Rivers is reportedly moving himself and his family to Florida. Where everyone goes to retire, right?

All we know it’s there’s more questions than answers at this point and the optimism is long gone.


Offseason Outlook


Lots of work to be done. That’s what the outlook it.

Look, this group isn’t too bad, far from it, they have some very talented players and a bunch of good draft picks to take.

The General Manager and Head Coach probably won’t survive another poor season either, so you’d like to think it’s time to push the chips into the middle of the table and make some moves.

First things first – The deadwood needs clearing out. There are a few players who have either, just not worked out or are earning way too much to keep around compared to the end product on the field.

Next – Well, maybe this over anything but maybe you need the money from clearing out the deadwood but anyway, SIGN JOEY BOSA.

Don’t mess around like you did with his rookie deal. Walk in with a smile on your face and a blank cheque in your hand and say: “Joey, you’re the face of the franchise now, you write whatever number you’d like on that cheque and you can have it”. Get it done. No amount is too much. If this team is serious about making a fist of it in Los Angeles, then you absolutely have to keep Bosa in the building. AND! This team could do without the drama of another holdout. Thanks.

Next, have a good draft!

Telesco’s drafts have been spotty at best – We’ve had some notable hits but also some notable misses – Especially in round 3 (If Gordon goes elsewhere in free agency, the Bolts should receive a 3rd round compensatory pick), so eyes peeled for that one. I want to see another QB. Whether it’s Justin Herbert at 6 or Jalen Hurts on day 2, this team needs to usher in a new era at SoFi Stadium, even if the new era begins with Tyrod Taylor under center.

Hopefully we’ll see the 2019 draft class come to the fore too and therefore they’ll be like new signings too.

There’s always room for optimism in the offseason and as I said earlier, there is talent in every room for L.A. but some careful surgery is needed. If they receive that, then we could be looking at a worst to first candidate in 2020.

Maybe.

Half-Term Report: AFC/NFC West

It’s just about the half way point in the NFL regular season. Depending on your outlook on such things, that’s good or bad.

In this series of articles, we take a look back over those 8 glorious weeks of pigskin action and also project how the 2nd half of the season will play out.


AFC West

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By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Current Standings

  • Kansas City Chiefs 5-3
  • Oakland Raiders 3-4
  • LA Chargers 3-5
  • Denver Broncos 2-6

*Kansas City Chiefs*

Midseason Grade: B

How has it gone so far?

The offensive juggernaut picked up where they left off. Patrick Mahomes has spread the ball around with ease despite missing Tyreek Hill for most of the 1st half of the season. A trade on the eve of the season for LeSean McCoy had solidified the backfield and Travis Kelce remains the league’s best tight end.

However the achilies heel is once again the defence. In particular it has been the Chiefs inability to defend the run. Only the winless Bengals have given up more yards on the ground and teams have found a formula to beat the Chiefs.

Having tasted defeat in 3 of the past 4 contests the Chiefs will be anxious to get Mahomes back from injury to allow the offence the greatest opportunity to make up for the defensive deficiencies. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The Chiefs are comfortable within the division and the 3 losses they have tasted were against quality opponents. They take care of business in the games that you would expect them to do so. They will not be concerned with regular season record however as they will be concentrating on what they want to achieve in January.

Fixing the run defence will have to be a top priority as the ground game becomes more of a factor as we get towards playoff time. The offence will continue to cause problems for anyone and outside of games with the Vikings and Patriots, the Chiefs will be big favourites in the other contests they have left to play.

Regular Season Record Prediction – 11-5 – Division Winners


*Oakland Raiders*

Midseason Grade: C

How has it gone so far?

The team of hard knocks has very quickly moved on from Antonio Brown to post some decent performances in the first half of the season.

Losses to the Chiefs, Vikings, Packers and Texans are nothing to be ashamed of. Derek Carr has been very accurate, completing over 72% of his passes as he has found himself 2 new best friends. Darren Waller has been a revelation at tight end, he leads the team with 46 receptions,over twice the amount of the next leading receiver.

Josh Jacobs is arguably one of the leading candidates for offensive rookie of the year honours with 620 rushing yards from the 7 games played.

Rest of Season Outlook:

Winnable looking games against the Jets, Bengals and Chargers provide plenty of optimism for the Raiders in the second half of the season.

The impending move to Vegas should hopefully mean plenty of motivation to give the fans over in the Bay area a good send off.

Look out for the continued development of the 2 young playmakers mentioned as the Raiders may have stumbled across a nice young core to develop with. 

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9


*LA Chargers*

Midseason Grade: D+

How has it gone so far?

In the conversation for the most underwhelming team of the 2020 season, the Chargers have fallen off massively from where they were last year. The offensive line has been a problem throughout and what feels like the standard injury curse has once again struck. Melvin Gordon backed himself in a contract hold out in a move that appears to have backfired having been outperformed by Austin Ekeler during the campaign.

Mike Williams found the endzone on 10 occasions last campaign but has yet to find pay dirt this time around. In fact Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry are the only 2 skill positions outside of the running backs that have scored a touchdown for the Bolts so far.

Rest of Season Outlook:

Looking for consistency, the Chargers need to stop beating themselves. 2 games against the Chiefs along with difficult looking matchups against the Vikings and Packers make the road ahead look difficult. WIth 5 divisional games still ahead though, with a heavy fair wind the Chargers aren’t quite out of things just yet.

Getting Michael Badgeley back on the field will help also as even if the Chargers get into winning positions the find a way to lose.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9


*Denver Broncos*

Midseason Grade: D

How has it gone so far?

As you would expect a Joe Flacco led offence to look, a little pedestrian. Ranked just 28th in points scored at just 15.6 per game the defence is keeping the Broncos competitive. That unit ranks 8th in terms of points against so its clear to see where the issues are in Mile High. An 0-4 start has been followed by a 2-2 stretch for a team struggling to establish an identity.

Philip Lindsay is still the most valuable offensive piece but despite his superior production he is stuck in a timeshare with Royce Freeman. Von Miller is having a relatively quiet season with only 4 sacks so far on the campaign.

Rest of Season Outlook:

After criticizing the defensiveness of offensive play calling Joe Flacco has miraculously picked up an injury so Brandon Allen is in at QB. The schedule does not look kind with Vikings, Texans and Chiefs all still to come. The Broncos would have been hoping for more of a boost from Vic Fangio than they have received and this has a feeling of a 1 and done season.

Development of the young wide receiving core will be crucial as the Broncos will hope that Drew Lock will be able to take over this offence in the non to distant future.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 3-13


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NFC West

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By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)

Current Standings 

  • San Francisco 49ers – 7-0
  • Seattle Seahawks – 6-2
  • Los Angeles Rams – 5-3
  • Arizona Cardinals – 3-4-1

*San Francisco 49ers*

Midseason Grade: A

How has it gone so far?

Without doubt the surprise package of the season, the 49ers are not so much dark horses, but sparkly rainbow unicorns, with the only undefeated record in the NFC. How are they racking up the W’s?

A perfect blend of creative and consistent running and a tough tackling defense led by rookie Nick Bosa and wily veteran CB Richard Sherman. Jimmy Garoppolo has been upright all season and only sacked 11 times. He needs to cut down interceptions (7)  but at a nearly 70% completion rate Garoppolo is just fine. The strong running game is led by a three-headed monster of Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert who have combined for over 1000 ground yards already and 10 combined touchdowns.

The receiving unit has been a big letdown, with the exception of All-Pro TE George Kittle, so a mid-season trade for Emmanuel Sanders from Denver was a welcome boost. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The remaining part of the 49ers schedule is much harder than the first half. Two matchups against the Seahawks, plus the Ravens, Saints and Packers. The 49ers will not go 16-0 regardless of however hard they run or tackle.

The two Seahawks games will define the season, and will provide the difference between a division win and a wild-card. Emmanuel Sanders will need to strike up immediate rapport with Jimmy G, as ridiculously his nine touchdown passes this season have gone to nine different team-mates. The return of versatile FB Kyle Juszczyk in the final third of the season will be a big boost.

Regular season record prediction: – 12-4 (and a wild card)


*Seattle Seahawks*

Midseason Grade: B+

How has it gone so far?

The Seahawks have not been convincing in 2019, winning their six games by a combined 32 points, including two one point wins. Regardless Russell Wilson is having a spectacular season, 2,127 yards, 17 touchdowns and just the one int in 8 full games.

Elsewhere the offence has been performing admirably, RB Chris Carson is on track for 1,200-1,300 yards and the mix of veteran WR Tyler Lockett and rookie WR DK Metcalf is providing a winning combination.

LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright continue to play at a Pro-Bowl level and the addition of DE Jadeveon Clowney may not have yielded gaudy sack totals, but he leads the team in tackles for loss and forced fumbles. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

The Seahawks have the 49ers clearly in their line of sight, and the two games they face against each other will be box office television both times. It’s all NFC games for Seattle for the rest of the season and six more wins is a realistic target. Seattle and San Francisco should have safely punched their ticket to the post-season by Week 16, so the Seahawks hosting the 49ers in Week 17 will likely determine who wins the division.

CenturyLink Field is no longer a fortress for the Seahawks, but they will use the wet-weather to squeak a W17 win and with it a division title. 

Regular season record prediction: – 12-4 (and a division win) 


*Los Angeles Rams*

Midseason Grade: B-

How has it gone so far? 

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Rams so far, starting with a three game win streak, followed by a three game crash, before crushing two awful teams.

In the space of three weeks (2-4) L.A. put a beat down on the Saints, scraped past the Browns and then leaked 55 against Tampa. Jared Goff is on pace for 5,000 yards and WR Cooper Kupp is looking like an All-Pro. Kupp’s 220 yard outing at Wembley will take a long time to forget.

Todd Gurley has flattered to deceive, his 7 touchdowns hiding a rather unimpressive season so far. LBs Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews are on pace for double digit sacks. The biggest impact on defense is CB Jalen Ramsey who was traded in from the Jaguars in October. Ramsey is currently undefeated as a Rams star.  

Rest of Season Outlook: 

The Super Bowl hangover is for real.

A tough run of games against Seattle, Dallas and San Francisco are sandwiched between two contests against the Cardinals. There have been five receiving yardage leaders on the team in eight games, and Todd Gurley has not had a single 100 yard rushing game this year.

Two home MNF games (Chicago and Seattle) will put the Rams in the spotlight, but they are not going to make the playoffs because their offensive line is their weak link, that will cost them dearly in the Winter months.

Regular season record prediction: 9-7


*Arizona Cardinals*

Midseason Grade: C+

How has it gone so far? 

Three wins and a tie in half a season is above expectation for a Cardinals team expected to be near the foot of the conference whilst they let rookie QB Kyler Murray settle in to the team.

The three wins were against weak opponents by a combined 10 points. Murray has shown improvement from his first four games, but he has been let down by a poor running game, which now has former Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake moving to Arizona from Miami.

The immortal WR Larry Fitzgerald is still churning away, and with an upsurge in targets could get another 1,000 season under his belt. David Johnson is still underperforming and he has more touchdowns catching than he does rushing. 

Rest of Season Outlook:

There are not a lot of winnable games left for the Cardinals in the second half of the season, ending in two tough road-trips to Seattle and L.A. Kyler Murray is going to see better days as the Cardinals move into a new era.

The youth movement will soon takeover throughout the roster, with WRs Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella making competition healthy of offense. Arizona still need help on the defense and offensive line, but another impactful draft could see them competitive as early as 2020.

One small shoutout to LB Terrell Suggs, coming up to his 38th birthday, as he is still performing at a high level – five sacks, four forced fumbles and 9.5 tackles for loss. Oh and he can act too if you have seen Ballers. 

Regular season record prediction: 5-10-1

#NFL100 Memories – 13/100

Part 2 – My Weekend with The Chargers – Sunday, Gameday – By Lee Wakefield

Welcome back to the second part of my weekend with the Chargers.

At this point it’s Sunday, it’s gameday, it’s a few mere hours until Chargers football. The only issue is that I’m back on the train up to London, for the second time in two days. At this point, as a commuter at the mercy of Themeslink or Southern, another train journey wasn’t exactly my idea of fun at the time.

However, I was buoyed by the previous day and also, of course, the day ahead. It was a sunny but crisp October morning and the Chargers were gathering some momentum – After a 2-2 start, the Bolts had won their last three games – And to top it all off, they were going to be wearing the greatest uniform in sports, the powder blues.

Speaking of uniforms, as a person who holds uniform aesthetics in high regard, it’s probably no surprise that I played everyones’ favorite game when going to a Wembley game – Where you have to spot all 32 team jerseys before the game.

I’m pleased to report that I was successful in doing so and even more pleased to report that I even saw the odd college football jersey.

Anyway, I’m getting slightly off topic… Back to Wembley and by now, I’d arrived (ridiculously early).

What can I say, I was eager to get there, to soak up the atmosphere and take in all that I could in what was my first, live, NFL experience.

First things first, let’s see where I’m going to be watching the game from. I do this all the time, when I’m going to watch live sport – I like to go into the stadium or arena and find my seat before I inevitably head to the bar and get a pre-match pint to settle the nerves.

In terms of seat, I don’t think I could have wished for a better seat.

The Atmosphere was good. I know the Wembley games get a little bit of a bad rap for maybe not having the most partisan crowd but I felt like the crowd was quite pro-Chargers, on the day at least.

[Insert tired joke relating to fans and the Chargers etc].

The game itself was good. Plenty of big plays from the Bolts and the Titans played their part too.

Now I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow replay but I will talk about a couple of moments that will stay with me for a long while.

Firstly, my moment of the game and the moment that literally got me jumping out of my seat; the interception by Denzel Perryman late in the first half. This was a huge moment in the game, it felt like it and it was just such an exciting moment to see live. I distinctly remember shouting, “PIIIIICCCKK!” when the ball was tipped in the air, just before Perryman gobbled it up.

A great moment just before half time that meant that L.A. went into the break with a 10-6 lead.

The other moment I want to relive is actually the final moments of the game.

It was 20-13 and the Titans drove down the field and scored a touchdown with literally seconds remaining. 20-19.

Now, at this point, I’d been dying for a pee for most of the second half…Those pre-match pints (and during match pints) had come back to haunt me.

Anyway, as soon as Tennessee scored I jumped up from my seat; I thought I’d fly to the loo and get sorted before overtime started.

I ran off and was relieving myself and I heard a cheer, “ahh well, that’s the extra point going over”, I (stupidly) though, next thing, I overheard someone talking about Tennessee going to two… 

WHAT?!

I finished by business and I actually just found the nearest TV on the concourse to finish off watching the game. The cheer I’d actually heard was the crowds’ reaction to the Titans first attempt!

Oh my god, they’ve gone for it!

Well, thank god for Adrian Phillips. Phillips made the play, with 31 seconds remaining in the game to seal the victory for the Chargers and send me home very happy indeed.

What a game, what a day… What a weekend. Buzzing.

Now for the queue for the tube…

#NFL 100 Memories 12/100

Part 1 – My Weekend with The Chargers – Saturday – By Lee Wakefield

Quite possibly my NFL favourite memory to date, when it comes to the NFL and the Chargers – Last year I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in London which revolved almost completely around the Los Angeles Chargers.

When the Chargers made the transatlantic to London last year, I was lucky enough to get myself a ticket for the game against the Titans, which going off of the Facebook threads and comments each year, is a miracle in itself! Not only that, I was lucky enough to be invited to be a part of an exclusive group of UK based Chargers fans who got to make up audience of a live Q&A session with Chargers players and a couple of ex-players, which took place on the Saturday.

What a dream!

The ex-players involved were Donnie Edwards and none other than, my hero, LaDainian Tomlinson.

Like I said, this was a dream Saturday.

The current players who were involved were, Melvin Ingram, Melvin Gordon, Russell Okung, Philip Rivers and to keep all the boys in check was the main man, Anthony Lynn.

During the Q&A

As someone who is involved in the media at an amateur level when it comes to the NFL, it was also a fantastic experience to see how Neil Reynolds works and how he hosts and plays to a room, especially considering this was a live event that was going out on the uncompromising airwaves of Facebook and the internet in general.

The event was an incredible thing to be a part of, it was a privilege to be a part of. Everyone aside from Coach Lynn stayed around for photos and to sign autographs once the event had finished which was first class from all of them, and I’m not hating on Coach there… He had to get away to prep for the W that was to follow the next day.

Russell Okung was thrilled to meet me and insisted on taking a photo with me. He must listen to the pod… On a serious note, he was awesome, he is a really funny guy.

Me with a fan.

Philip Rivers was also incredible with the fans. The rest of the players had departed and the production crew were packing up, Philip was still holding court. There were around ten of us, just huddled round firing questions and just chewing the fat with OUR starting QB for around 20 minutes after everyone had left. At the time I was working in London despite living in Brighton and we actually shared commuting stories – Many of the fans were interested in Philip’s custom minivan which he uses to travel between his home in San Diego and the Chargers’ practice facility.

I guess the only downer on this was that I didn’t get to tell LT how much I love him.

Check in tomorrow for part 2 of my weekend tomorrow, when I’ll be getting into what was the first and only time, although definitely not the last time, I saw the Chargers in action.

#NFL100 Memories – 7/100

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.