So often an NFL player will claim that his team’s season isn’t successful unless it ends with a Lombardi Trophy. The rigidity of this notion—a season’s value being measured only in the variable of victories, and true value not being recognized unless one of those victories happens to be of the rarest, most difficult form—would make a Buddhist shudder. Yet even the Dali Lama would admit that for the 2009 San Diego Chargers, it’s Super Bowl or bust.
The members of this organization aren’t going to find true peace or happiness with anything less than an AFC Championship victory. The Chargers have maxed out all other forms of success. They’ve won three straight AFC West titles: they went 14-2 and lost to the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in 2006; they reached the AFC Title Game the following season but again fell to New England; last year, San Diego extracted a subtle revenge on its Massachusetts foe by winning the final four games to finish 8-8 and, thanks to a technicality, snatch the last playoff spot from the 11-win Pats (who were not lucky enough to earn an automatic bid from the laughable AFC West). But the season still ended with a Divisional Round loss at Pittsburgh.
The only thing left for the Spanos Family’s team to do is reach a Super Bowl. Amazingly, for a fourth-straight year, San Diego’s window is wide open. (In today’s NFL, this is not unlike leaving your wallet on a park bench and finding it, still full, three days later.)
The Chargers have all the pieces and seem to have moved past the snags of previous years. It was once believed that this club’s shortcoming was at head coach. But after the way Norv Turner’s men have rallied down the stretch the past two seasons, it’s apparent that the venerable offensive playcaller can indeed sail his crew through turbulent waters.
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