This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December used to hold such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that makes it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.
Dec. 20: Schadenfreude
Admit it, you checked Bolts From the Blue feverishly throughout the month of January, didn’t you?
I know I did. EVERYONE did.
That’s because moving from San Diego was an unspeakably bad idea and the Chargers had become the popcorn-fodder that LA is best known for. They tripped over their logo debacle, they paid ‘fans’ to attend their briefings, and their social media crew just compounded problem after problem. It was quite the show!
While not genuinely unique to the Chargers as an organization, these falls and tumbles have become all-too-common for the franchise. Before the upheaval, there were the McCoy years. Before that, there were the Turner years. Before that, there were good teams, bad teams, great teams, and historically awesome teams that all failed to produce a SuperBowl winner. Fans of the Bolts have learned to appreciate the team as a perennial underdog, but the kind of underdogs that still choke at the end of the story. These fans have learned to love the expected.
Schadenfreude: The experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.
We have all been guilty of it at one point or another, but Chargers fans have really gotten used to the notion that their beloved Bolts will choke in the worst of ways at the worst of times. Whether it is a coping mechanism or it is just more fun than wallowing, it’s become rather trendy to expect the embarrassment and laugh at the folly. Think Cleveland Browns fans. They already have their cash in the bank for the 0-16 parade this year. Think Jaguar fans, well.. up until this year... who were best defined through this image:
There is love in this image. There is the gob-smacked incredulity of the team doing exactly what everyone in the stands expected them to do. There is a smirk, a slight enjoyment of the entire ball of yarn unraveling before their collective eyes.
The Chargers, to my knowledge, do not yet have a gif that encapsulates so beautifully the joy behind the tears. The closest I could find was this gem:
There’s the expectation of trouble, but not quite the nod to a higher power and a beleaguered smile to seal the deal. It’s not quite at the level of losing to the Cleveland Browns, and being the only team to do so in two years. It’s losing that game, on Christmas Eve, on a missed field goal as time expired.
This isn’t just a grass-is-greener type of issue, either. Statistically, no NFL quarterback matches Philip Rivers’ pace of prolonged, late-game cruelty. Across 12 seasons and 190 starts with the Chargers, he has lost 27 games by a field goal or less. That’s 14 percent of his career starts. Only Drew Brees is even close — he’s lost 22 such games since Rivers entered the league. Know what else those two have in common?
Hey, don’t get down now, this is about the enjoyment derived from the tough times! We’ve learned to roll with the punches and enjoy that they just keep coming. Chargers fans are a resilient group and have arguably been through the second-hardest stretch in the NFL today. Some might even bump them to number one, but those people would be wrong: the Browns would win that competition thanks to a last-second field goal miss.
-Jason “Despair Me Your Feelings” Michaels