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Big division for Chargers between rivalries

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    [​IMG]

    By Chris Jenkins
    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 4:02 p.m.



    Olathe (Kan.) South. Yeah, that’s the one. You ask him about the fiercest rivalry of his lifetime, and the answer just instinctively comes to Darren Sproles, who went to Olathe North. Naturally.
    Just as quickly, Quentin Jammer will say “OU.” It’s the same response you’d get from any Texas native who got to wear the burnt-orange Longhorn on his helmet. Likewise, as a graduate of Florida State and product of the Seminoles football program, Travis Johnson doesn’t hide his disdain for the University of Florida.
    “Florida’s just … ugh,” said Johnson, sneering. “Every circumstance that’s bad is Florida’s fault. If it’s hot outside, it’s because the Gators want it to be hot outside.”
    As it happens, one of Johnson’s defensive mates with the Chargers is a Gator.
    “That’s why me and B-Si (linebacker Brandon Siler) never talk,” said Johnson. “Except on Sundays.”
    Sunday, the Chargers make their annual visit to whatever they’re calling the Oakland Raiders’ stadium these days. Naturally, they’ll be treated by fans of the Silver and Black as you’d welcome pestilence-in-laws into your home. Chargers-Raiders again will be considered the most intense rivalry on the San Diego calendar.
    “If it’s the Raiders,” said Gates, “leave the family at home.”
    Meaning, the battles in the stands can be more dangerous than anything on the field. A vast majority of the players on this end don’t get anywhere near as worked up about the Raiders game as their fans, and not just because the Chargers seem to simply beat Oakland out of habit. (For those still counting, San Diego’s won 13 straight, which constitutes six straight seasons of series sweeps.)
    Nor is it intended as a dismissal of the Raiders, who can’t possibly feel the same fervor as their bizarre Black Hole-a-zoids do about games against the Chargers, winners of four straight AFC West titles and five of six while Oakland’s failed to win more than five games in any season since 2002. Although there was a time, not that long ago, when then head coach Marty Schottenheimer would try to get his Chargers to think like they were going up against the silver-and-black plague.
    But even if the Chargers and Raiders played each other for first place every year, the feelings between the actual combatants likely wouldn’t run as deep as, say, as the rivalry that drove Ryan Mathews even harder when running for Bakersfield West against local rival Stockdale High. The conditioned response of a vast majority of pro players actually is to tone down the rivalspeak, to reiterate that every game is like the last, and the next.
    Because, well, it’s the NFL.
    Because, for the most part, it's not personal. Just business.
    “This business is too hard if you try to turn it on and off, if you say, oh, this is a division game or a non-conference game or a team from the other division,” said placekicker Nate Kaeding. “If you treat it differently, you’re setting yourself up for some issues. In this league, a win is a win, a loss is a loss.
    “You do want to keep a leg up on the division teams. That being said, we had a pretty crappy feeling coming out of the stadium in Seattle , the same crappy feeling we had when we were pulling out of Kansas City.”
    K.C. was the only division game the Chargers have played to this point, only the fifth loss in their last 25 AFC West matchups. With a dozen games yet to be played, less than half of them are against AFC West teams.
    If anything, division games are less demanding in one sense. Less homework.
    “One thing I can always do in division games: I can almost draw up the defensive (player) numbers and who they are before we get the scouting report,” said quarterback Philip Rivers. “(Last) Monday, though, I was on Arizonacardinals.com.”
    As one of the Chargers who’s never lost to the Raiders, Rivers admits that maintaining that status has become “kind of a big deal,” even allowing that there is a genuine rivalry with Oakland. But he also said that there’s a similar sense to games between the Chargers and other AFC teams they’ve faced often in the regular season and postseason, most notably the New England Patriots , Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. All of whom are on the Chargers schedule between now and December.
    However, there’s no comparing the rivalry between any two NFL teams to the natural and deep-seeded friction that professional players felt for their geographical enemies in high school and college.
    “If you play anything at N.C. State, the feelings you have for Carolina are instantaneous,” said Rivers, who played for the Wolfpack. “You step onto the (Raleigh) campus for the first time and you want to beat the Tar Heels.”
    Well before he got to San Diego, Gates was obsessed with beating Detroit Northern High, playing basketball as he did for Detroit Central. In his years at Kent State, much of your season was made if you beat Akron. He does consider the Raiders the Chargers’ chief rival, and maybe not by coincidence, San Diego’s first sweep in their ongoing run over Oakland came in Gates’ rookie season of 2003.
    Given the Raiders’ reputation, too, there is another aspect of division game that comes into play.
    “Say you’re standing by a pile and somebody comes up and … I won’t call it a cheap shot … but … he gets you kinda cheap-shottish,” said linebacker Shawne Merriman. “You get a chance to see people twice a year. It’s like, OK, if you want to do this, just remember that you might see me again this year.
    “I won’t call it payback, but I’m not gonna forget what you did, and we will be playing again.”
    And again and again.
     
  2. LightEmUp

    LightEmUp Banned Banned

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    Why is 56 quoted on anything? It's like listening to Buster Davis hype up.
     
  3. 65TossPowerTrap

    65TossPowerTrap BoltTalker

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    Man Darren Sproles flat out MURDERED us when he was at Olathe North. That little guy was amazing. Wha happened???
     
  4. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Miller time

    Other than Tony Gonzalez , Oakland’s Zach Miller has been the most consistently successful tight end against the Chargers over the last 10 years.
    Among the 20 tight ends that have faced the Chargers more than twice in that span, Miller is second to Gonzalez with average of 5.8 receptions and 68 yards a game.
    Through four games this season, Miller is third among NFL tight ends in receptions (22) and receiving yards (278). He has 11 catches for 122 yards against Houston last Sunday.
    “They are working real hard to get him the ball,” Turner said. “…I think their quarterback play is better. There were times (in past seasons) I think he was running great routes and getting open, and he wasn’t getting the opportunity to get the ball. Well, now it is getting to him, and I think everyone is going to know he is a guy that every team is going to have to deal with when you play the Raiders.”
     

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