Remember December 20th, 2015. That date, the Chargers were to play their last contest ever in Qualcomm Stadium. Amidst a miserable season, where a soon to be departed team was 3-10, facing an opponent in the Miami Dolphins, who had no traveling fan base and were also eliminated from the playoffs; you San Diego, made an otherwise meaningless football game into one of the most memorable days of my time in this city. That day, you packed the stadium, brought a festive atmosphere filled with laughter, celebration, tears and thankfulness. You carried a lifetime of memories shared with family, friends, and the community that you have created in your hearts through the gates. 55 years of Charger football, right here in San Diego, flooded Qualcomm that day and lifted your hometown team to victory. We all bonded.
Remember, too, several weeks after that game, when the owners meetings took place in Houston to decide the fate of OUR TEAM. We sat by, hopeless, thinking we were watching all of those years of commitment, effort, and faith washed away, as if they never even occurred. For me, and many of you, that was a dark time. But, we were spared.
Whether you care about the Chargers or not, other football games, that include SDSU, the Holiday and Poinsettia Bowls, or potential Super Bowls, future MLS teams, Monster Truck Rally’s, big time concerts, conventions, year round park space and new development opportunities or not, I believe you do care about your community. All of these events give us, the citizens of America’s Finest City a chance to come together and share emotions and experiences with one another. These events bond us together, building a culture here in our own town. Without this bond, we are just another nice city with great weather. Big deal.
Some of the greatest times of my life have been spent on a team, riding through tremendous peaks and troughs of seasons. When we suffered together and then overcame whatever predicament we found ourselves in, we had the greatest times of our lives. 2008 was one of those years. As a team, we found ourselves in the lowest of holes, sitting at 4-8 with four games remaining on the schedule. We had been written off completely from the outside, and internally we were struggling, too. But, with luck or fate or whatever you want to call it, we were given the opportunity to make the playoffs with our own game against the rivaled Denver Broncos, who had previously been 8-4. In the last game of the regular season, at Qualcomm Stadium, it was win and in for either team. We KNEW we were going to win and did so handily. We found ourselves in the playoffs, at home again, against the Indianapolis Colts. Winning in overtime that day was the greatest emotion I had ever experienced in my life. We went from being completely eliminated to winning a playoff game in five weeks time.
We, as citizens, have also suffered together. Just like that Chargers team in 2008, we are down to our last count. We have felt helpless and desperate over the last year. Many felt the odds to be insurmountable. But, we’ve been given a chance now to take matters in our own hands. Winning this last game will ensure that we will always have a place to bond and create memories together. Nobody will win this game for us.
Tomorrow, the Chargers kick off their Signature Drive at the location of the future Stadium/Convention Center. Up until now, many folks have sat on the sideline, waiting for a clear path to the finish line. We now have the plan laid out before us. It is our job to bring the energy and enthusiasm to execute that plan. Join the masses on 13th and K tomorrow at 10 am, and let’s celebrate the beginning of our journey together. We have a chance to decide our future as a city. Let’s decide now that WE WILL WIN and WE ARE America’s Finest City.