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Lofton Laughs Off The Comparisons

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <strong>August 4, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://calhisports.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=439312">Calhisports.com</a>

    <img src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/loftonson.jpg" class="left" alt="Lofton and Son" title="Lofton and Son"/>The shadow follows Westview High's Daniel Lofton, no matter how far he runs with the football after a catch or how quickly he sprints on the track against the clock.

    When your father is James Lofton, an NFL Hall-of-Fame wide receiver, and Dad remains in the public eye as an assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers, there is no escaping the inevitable identity in media reports: "Daniel Lofton, son of Chargers wide receiver coach James Lofton, - "

    But you want to know how Daniel handles the pressure? He laughs it off, telling a story that illustrates how comfortable he is with his father's legacy.

    "A lot of my friends are nervous around him when they come over to the house," said Daniel, grinning as he sits in the family living room with his famous father on a recent summer morning. "But he's just like any other dad to me."

    Daniel, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver for the Wolverines, has not only proven himself talented enough in football to accept a scholarship offer from Cal, he's invited comparisons in track and field as a sub-50-second quarter-miler and CIF state-meet qualifier.

    At Stanford, James was an NCAA long jump champion in 1978 in addition to his football All-American honors. James also starred in football and track at Washington High in Los Angeles, graduating in 1974.

    "You get used to people always making comparisons," Daniel said. "So you just put it out of your mind."

    In football, Daniel averaged 23.1 yards a reception last year while playing for Poway, catching 18 passes for 415 yards in the Titans' run-oriented offense. But in a CIF San Diego Section Division I first-round playoff upset of Bonita Vista, Lofton caught five passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

    The family sold its Poway home in the winter, taking advantage of a housing market peak before the Chargers renewed James' contract, and relocated in the Westview district. Rachel, the youngest of James and Beverly's three children, will join Daniel at Westview as a freshman in the fall.

    Daniel, who transferred in the winter and ran track for the Wolverines, recorded best times of 49.70 seconds in the 400 meters in the CIF finals and 21.98 in the 200 in a summer meet.

    But the touchdowns scored, the races won and the Cal scholarship aren't the moments that James mentions with the most pride. Dad's chest swells as he sits on the sofa in the family living room and recounts a moment far removed from the spotlight.

    It was in the winter months of Daniel's freshman year between football and track season, and James was driving home early from work when he swung by Poway's track. Daniel had finished working out with his football teammates and had started a track workout on his own.

    "I was never more impressed with Daniel," James said. "He was the only kid out there."

    It's an example of all three of the Lofton children being sports-minded but not resting on their father's bloodlines.

    David, the oldest, is a senior at Stanford, where he plays free safety after being recruited as a quarterback out of Plano, Texas, where the family lived when James worked in the television business before joining the Chargers' staff in 2002. Rachel's sports are soccer and track.

    "People assume they're natural athletes, but if you would have looked at my sons when they were 10 years old, you wouldn't have picked them out of a group of 20 kids as future Division I college athletes," James said. "They have worked hard."

    Daniel, listening to his father, offers a chuckle and a nod to affirm that evaluation of his 10-year-old days.

    One reason Daniel is comfortable with comparisons to his father is he competed against his older brother from an early age, long before they were old enough to comprehend their father's NFL fame.

    "My brother and I always liked playing football together when we were younger," he said. "I like football because you have to work out to achieve a goal as a team. You have to build that team camaraderie. You build a lot of friendships."

    Although Daniel plays his father's position, James was a quarterback at Los Angeles Washington before Stanford converted him to wide receiver. One of James' high school crosstown rivals at L.A. Hamilton was Warren Moon (they played against each other as juniors in the 1972 season).

    Moon went on to the University of Washington, a college that ran a balanced offense, before becoming one of the NFL's all-time passing leaders. Moon went to Washington and James to Stanford at a time when few black high school quarterbacks weren't converted to another skill position, unless they attended a school than ran an option offense.

    James was known as a running quarterback in high school, but he's always possessed a strong arm. He still has two plaques from his days with the Green Bay Packers when he won long-ball contests – throwing balls 88 and 82 yards. Watch a Chargers practice and you'll see he directs more than soft lobs at the Chargers' receivers.

    "He can still throw a ball hard," Daniel said. "When he throws balls with me, he throws it harder than my friends."

    But James, who turned 49 on July 5, didn't put any extra mustard on his passes once Daniel announced he would be attending Cal, archrival of his father's alma mater. Just as James has let his two football-playing sons gravitate to sports on their own – Daniel never ran for a track club until exposed to the sport in a middle school gym class -- his recruiting advice was more fatherly than Cardinal.

    "I met with an estate planner recently, and he's a Stanford grad," James said. "One of the first questions he asked me is why my son isn't going to Stanford. I told him he picked the school he thought was the best school for him. I think the offense, the school and the coach (Jeff Tedford) are a great fit for Daniel."

    The shadow will follow Daniel to the Bay Area next year, but it hasn't been too dark for him to throw some light and find his own place in sports.

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