A part of me died last Sunday.
I do not intend that statement to be some cruel and unfunny joke, as Opening Day occurred on 9/11 this year.
No, that statement comes right from the heart. And boy oh boy, the Chargers like to tug on those heartstrings.
People seem to think the staff here at BFTB likes to approach articles with a holier-than-thou, chip-on-the-shoulder-type style from time to time. If the general public settles on a consensus, that’s all and well, though I believe it’s only a small sect of the vast community that grudgingly drives the hate parade.
The truth is, my fellow writers and I are exactly the same as you, the reader: we’re nothing more than football nerds, junkies, fanboys, and the like. Me personally, I read every article posted on this site; you may even see my name pop up in the comment sections, or watch video I edit and post to YouTube. Do I get paid to write here? No way. I do this solely out of my love for the team, the sport, and my fellow fans.
Three weeks ago, I wrote my thoughts on the hype surrounding Keenan Allen as he entered his fourth year in the league, and how I thought he’d tear it up from the get-go. I ended by mentioning I had just purchased a #13 jersey.
When Keenan went down with a non-contact injury, I immediately assumed the worst.
Through the whole thing, the TV acted like a mirror. On one side, an athletic type wearing a white Allen jersey found himself splayed out on a grass field in Kansas City; on the other side, a skinny kid wearing a white Allen jersey found himself laying on the carpet-clad floor in the comfort of his living room in Connecticut.
It took me fifteen minutes to realize that I was still on the ground. At that point, the game had started up again, Keenan existing as an afterthought as the show went on.
Key players get hurt all the time. It’s just so much different when it’s your guy.
For example, when Jordy Nelson went down last year, I felt for the dude, and for the fans. But hey, the Packers still had Aaron Rodgers. There was no way they could miss Nelson that much, and besides, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams would be more valuable commodities in Fantasy now.
I looked at Nelson’s injury strictly from the eyes of a Matthew Berry, or a Chris Simms, the guys who are paid to offer up some semblance of advice or analysis. The truth is, the brutality of the sport just does not hit you when there’s no emotional connection involved.
Bolt’s 2014-15 leading rusher injury cart zipped out, and CBS panned to Keenan hiding his tears, that’s when it really sunk in.
Sure, we can argue night and day about the hypocrisy of being an NFL fan, and how their contracts should be completely guaranteed, but at the end of the day, none of us are rushing out to boycott the NFL. Come Sunday, all of us will be nestled up in our favorite place, glued to the TV screen and its addictive behemoth known as professional football.
But goddammit, that doesn’t mean it hurt any less to see him go down.
As soon as Allen had left the premises, I knew we were going to lose that game. When my brother messaged me during the second quarter, exclaiming “We’re going to be nice this year!”, I calmly replied, Don’t speak too soon. After all, Mike McCoy was and is still the coach of the San Diego Chargers.
I’m trying hard to believe the Bolts can make a run at the playoffs, but the fact of the matter is, this squad needed everything to go right to secure a berth in the tournament. And it was, for roughly one-and-a-half-quarters. The Chargers’ potential of being an offensive juggernaut was on display against one of the stingiest defenses in all of football. Allen looked more and more like the Top 5 talent we pegged him to be, consistently burning Marcus Peters to the point where Andy Reid put his star corner on time out for whining too much.
And then...boom. No post-Keenan adjustments showed us what to expect from McCoy and his staff this year. Nothing had changed since last season and the way things are going, the Chargers will be vying more for the first pick than the thirty-second.
So I propose a toast, a toast to the Keenan Allen Hype Train. Whether you’re in San Diego, Kansas City, or Saskatchewan, feel free to raise your glass.
That gallant glimmer, that faint flash of hope #13 gave us through twenty minutes of play—that right there encapsulated everything you needed to know about the Keenan Allen Hype Train, and then some. Here’s to a full and healthy recovery for Keenan Allen, so that he comes back and dominates like we all know he can.
And Keenan, if you’re out there somewhere, lurking in the shadows, just remember, it’s not where your odyssey may take you, but it’s the journey itself that matters. Knowing you, there’s no way you let something like an ACL tear knock you down.
(Feel free to finish off that drink now.)