This is no time for jokes, Philip. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
This might be better described as a rant, but I'm going to try and make it short.
Last night I did the first BFTB Podcast with co-host Steve Adler. Most of you know Steve, he even hosted the show himself a few weeks back while I was cursing the franchise by getting its logo permanently inked onto my body (The new tattoo's record? 0-3). After the show, Steve wrote me a very nice e-mail saying that he thought I was a little harsh on the BFTB audience when I said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Charger fans that want the team to switch to the 4-3 are idiots."
The key sentence in Steve's email was this: "Most people are casual fans and half of them don’t even know the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3." I genuinely appreciate Steve taking the time to write the e-mail, and for a moment I felt bad because he's right. I have alienated a lot of readers on BFTB and listeners on the BFTB Podcast with how dismissive I am towards some common ideas, such as "Fire Norv", "Give VJax whatever he wants", "Fire AJ Smith", "Switch to the 4-3" and "AJ Smith's ego is ruining this team!"
After thinking about it further, and reading his e-mail several more times, I realized that I owed everyone an apology and then an explanation. Actually, let's make it two apologies.
Apology #1: I am sorry if in the past I have been rude to you, or dismissive to your ideas simply because they do not match up with mine. With the little bit of power I have here, and let's not forget that I am a well-known asshole as well, I have bullied a few people around when I disagree with them. I am not above saying that I have over-stepped boundaries before, but I will also admit that I have hunted down a few of the people I've done that with and written them personal e-mails explaining myself. Either way, I'll try to be better about being neutral when dealing with people or philosophies that I don't believe in in the future.
Apology #2: I am sorry, but this is no place for "casual fans". It never has been, and with each passing day it becomes less of a place for casual fans. Do casual fans know, or care, what DVOA and DYAR are? Of course not. Yet BFTBers need to have at least a passing knowledge of what those things are, what they mean and where they come from to play a part in the daily conversations in our comments section.
I've heard, more than a few times, people say that they visited the site but it seemed "above them" in terms of football knowledge, so they left. We essentially scared them off by not being a comfortable place for casual fans. At the same time, I've heard just as many people tell me that they love BFTB because there's no place like it on the internet for Chargers fans. It has become, quite simply, the best place to find intelligent conversation about the San Diego football team.
The difference between me and someone like Darren Smith or "Hacksaw" Lee Hamilton is that I'm not selling anything, and I don't have necessary time or space to fill. I write what I want to write, when I feel compelled to write it. It's one of those freedoms that makes being a blogger kind of awesome. I'm not in a position like Kevin Acee where I need to write the daily Chargers news for those people that still only get their Chargers news from the paper, that's what FanShots and the BFTB Twitter account are for.
This site has become exactly what I was always looking for as a Chargers fan but had a difficult time finding on the web. It is a place where the blowhards get laughed at. Sure, maybe we're the group of nerds that eats lunch behind the library and plays Magic the Gathering … but at least we don't have to deal with having our brains hurt trying to figure out how somebody could be so senseless as to believe everything that the mainstream media tells them about their favorite team.
Am I saddened when I hear people tell me that they tried the site and were scared away? A little, although it's mixed with pride. However, my favorite stories are when people tell me that they've learned more about football from reading the site than anywhere else. We, myself and the entire BFTB staff (current and former), have taken part in educating many people from the level of "casual fan" to someone who actually understands what's going on during a play, during a season, in the front office, and what it all means.
There are plenty of places on the internet where San Diego Chargers fans can go and talk, or YELL IN CAPS LOCK, about the team. There is only one Bolts From The Blue, and I believe that's one of the reasons why we've become the biggest Chargers blog/community on the internet (in terms of traffic, anyway). This is not an exclusive club, anyone is welcome to join. However, we do not and and will not sit idly by and allow for uneducated fans to spout their second-hand ideas without attempting to educate them or eventually ridding ourselves of them.
This is just how we roll. This is not madness, this is BFTB.