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Just another day at work for Bolts

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Blue and gold, meet the red and green

    By Chris Jenkins, UNION-TRIBUNE

    Friday, December 25, 2009

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For sure, it won’t be the same kind of Blitzin’ you’ve been hearing about in the Christmas rhyme.
    But, really, wouldn’t Chris Johnson make a good Comet? LaDainian Tomlinson can still be Dancer. Darren Sproles is Dasher. With the nimble footwork he’s been showing after catches this year, Antonio Gates could be Prancer. Donner means “thunder,” which very well could describe a different kind of footwork, as delivered by Mike Scifres and Nate Kaeding.
    Otherwise, you’d have a real hard time conjuring up a true sense of the holiday spirit among the Chargers, to whom this is just another day at the office. Their workplace happens to be at LP Field, in Nashville, where the Chargers play the Tennessee Titans tonight.
    The odds finally caught up to the Chargers, who heretofore had not played a Christmas Day game in their 50-year history. They’ve played eight times on Christmas Eve — including 2005, ’06 and ’07 — and counted ’04 among the four seasons in which they’ve played on Dec. 26.
    “It means the same thing in the season record,” said wide receiver Vincent Jackson. “They’re not going to put an asterisk by it that says ‘Christmas Day’ or anything like that. We’ll approach it like any Sunday.”
    That it’s a game in this particular month has taken on more meaning to those who’ve come to think of the Chargers as “December’s Team.” If they’ve proven anything about themselves, it’s that they’re at their sharpest when the regular season is at its most critical juncture, and none of the San Diego players interviewed made it sound as if the date of the game or the holiday season in general are sources of distraction.
    “Like any other game,” said cornerback Quentin Jammer. “We’re excited to play. We don’t care what day we play. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Christmas. We love to play, so whenever we get that chance, we’re happy.
    “I chose to play this sport, a sport that’s treated me great. So I don’t mind. Whatever it takes. We’ll just make Christmas on Saturday. The family understands.”
    Jammer and his wife, Alicia, have three young children. His family stayed in San Diego and will celebrate Christmas tomorrow. That’s the same plan being utilized by running back Jacob Hester, whose wife Katie gave birth to their first child just three months ago.
    “I won’t be able to see him on his first Christmas Day,” said Hester. “That’s the one thing about this that kinda stings.”
    Because the game is so close to where he grew up in Alabama, quarterback Philip Rivers has been accompanied to Nashville by his already considerable family. His wife, Tiffany, is expecting their fifth child after New Year’s. Rivers’ kids — ages 7, 5, 3 and 1 — will be at the game.
    “We’ve made it a, ‘Isn’t it weird Dad is playing on Christmas? Isn’t that crazy?’ ” said Rivers. “(And) you get to come to the game.’ ”
    Nashville is little more than an hour away from the part of Alabama where Rivers was born and raised, and even closer to his wife’s family in Franklin, Tenn.
    “That’s where Tiff and (the kids) will be,” said Rivers. “I couldn’t do the whole ‘Try to make Christmas on the 26th.’ I couldn’t handle them being here (in San Diego) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — my wife and four kids, that’s not a very fun Christmas.
    “Santa Claus will come to Nashville, but there will be some (gifts) we leave behind.”
    The team did its gift exchanges a couple of days ago, position by position. A team dinner, including family members in the traveling party, was to be held last night at the Chargers’ hotel in Nashville.
    “If you’ve been in the NFL a while, you know you have to work around the holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Day,” said Jim Steeg, the chief operating officer. “You’re usually either playing or practicing on the holidays.”
    The Chargers have it a bit tougher than the Titans in that they’re on the road, and since Nashville’s two times zones away, the team traveled two days before the game to get acclimated.
    For one of the Chargers, though, it’s been like going home. Exactly, actually. Linebacker Tim Dobbins was born in Nashville and grew up 10 minutes from the Titans’ stadium.
    “Everybody’s there … everybody … everybody,” said Dobbins before the team left San Diego. “I’ll have a couple hours here and there, get to show a couple of the guys my old stomping grounds.”
    Dobbins was playing a sort of Santa, too, having to come up with 20-30 tickets to meet the demands of family and friends. Likewise, offensive tackle Marcus McNeill needed to buy at least a dozen tickets for relatives making the three-hour-plus drive up from his home near Atlanta.
    “I’m happy about playing (on) Christmas,” McNeill said. “If you’re home, what are you doing? You’re sitting on the couch, watching a game on TV. We get to play in that game. Bigger audience. Big atmosphere.”
    Backup quarterback Billy Volek’s family, including his wife and three kids, will be watching the game on television from their house in Fresno.
    “They’re actually having two Christmases, so the kids will be spoiled, but they’re sad,” said Volek, who spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Titans. “It’ll be good for them to be with Grandma, Grandpa, cousins. They understand about my profession and kinda roll with it.
    “This is something you don’t want to to have to do every year. But people in the military do it all the time and they’re fighting wars. We can do it, too.”

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