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Chargers want to play game to provide distraction to ravaged area

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-chargers-wildfires&amp;prov=ap&amp;type=lgns" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>

    By Bob Baum

    <img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/afp/20071024/capt.sge.ngg77.241007232504.photo00.photo.default-372x512.jpg" alt="Tents for fire evacuees line the outer hallways at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The National Football League remained undecided on Wednesday on whether to move Sunday's scheduled game at San Diego as fires continued to wreak havoc in California." align="right" height="281" width="204" />TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The San Diego Chargers are well aware that football is only a game, and they are but entertainers. The fires rampaging across the San Diego area make that very clear.

    Still, the Chargers believe that by playing the Houston Texans -- somewhere on Sunday or Monday -- will fill a useful role for a community just beginning to sift through the ashes.

    "To play a game, hopefully back there, but wherever it is," quarterback Philip Rivers said, "is hopefully going to lift people's spirits because this is something the county is going to have to deal with for a lot more than a couple of days."

    San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders will decide whether the Chargers' home, Qualcomm Stadium, can be made available for the scheduled game. If not, Dallas and Houston were being considered. The stadium has been used as an evacuation center. An estimated 10,000 were there on Wednesday.

    "We're waiting as long as we can to assess the need for a shelter as large as Qualcomm," the mayor's spokesman Fred Sainz said Wednesday.

    "The mayor, when he spoke yesterday, said the concern is really not a football game, the concern was to assure people evacuated from their homes that they have a a safe place to go," Sainz said. "That remains our priority."

    The team left the charred air of San Diego for three days of practice, beginning Wednesday, at the Arizona Cardinals' training facility. Rivers likened the atmosphere to training camp. The players were doing their best to concentrate on game preparation, even though an estimated two dozen of them had been evacuated from their homes because of the threat of fire.

    As far anyone knew, no players or staff members had lost their homes.

    "I want to play football, regardless of what's happened and regardless of what's going on,"' linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "Our hearts go out to everybody that's dealing with this right now. We have friends, we have family who are dealing with it even as we speak. But regardless of whatever happens, we have to play football."

    Chargers president Dean Spanos said about 40 people in the organization had to evacuate their homes, including Rivers, Merriman and coach Norv Turner.

    The Cardinals have a bye this week, with no practices scheduled after a Wednesday workout.

    "I think they're all coming together," Spanos said about the players. "In some ways, this kind of brings them all a little bit closer. It's unfortunate the circumstances, but they're trying to make the worst situation the best possible situation that they can."

    The Chargers had a bye last week, so they hadn't practiced since Thursday.

    "Obviously we're waiting to hear what's going to happen in San Diego, but the biggest focus for our football team is the next three days and our preparation," Turner said, "because I know this. That game is going to be played. That ball is going to get kicked off. We can't do anything about the other things -- where it's going to be or when it's going to be."

    "Things are improving, but there are still people in the stadium," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier in the day.

    Nearly four years ago to the day, wildfires forced the Chargers to move a Monday night game against Miami to Sun Devil Stadium on the Arizona State campus. Fifteen players on the San Diego active roster were part of that move.

    The Cardinals have since moved to their new stadium in suburban Glendale, but that facility is booked through Sunday by the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show.

    AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego and AP Football Writer Dave Goldberg in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
     

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