One of the best parts about sports in general is the sense of nostalgia it can fill you with at any given moment. Sometimes all you need to do is see a name, here a certain tune, or smell a certain smell and you’re right back in the stands or in front of your television re-living a critical moment in your favorite team’s history. Sports memories are something special and while most usually recall a team’s special season or a certain accolade won, they can also include memorable individual performances.
Individual performances have to work a little bit harder to stay in the minds of fans, especially when they come in the form of a game that, at the end of the day, doesn’t mean much for the success of the team in the long run. There’s nothing like watching your favorite player have a career day in week two of the regular season in a loss to a non-divisional opponent. But they can ingrain themselves, nonetheless.
In this spirit, I want to hear about all your favorite individual performances you’ve gotten the chance to witness while being a fan of the Chargers. To reiterate, it doesn’t have to be the “greatest” or the most-productive outing, it just has to be the one you enjoyed to watch the most.
For my memory, I have to go back to the Chargers’ 2014 season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
It was White Hot Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium and the entire fan base was whipped-up into a frenzy as the defending Super Bowl Champions were coming into their house, riding a wave that only a championship could put you on. The vaunted Legion of Boom was all but intact still, only missing cornerback Brandon Browner who was now with the Patriots.
While the fan base was likely on pins and needles leading up to kickoff, and probably some of the players too, there was one Charger who was about to put together one of the most impressive performances of his future Hall-of-Fame career.
At 34 years old, tight end Antonio Gates turned back the clock to utterly dominate the Seahawks secondary to the tune of 96 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
After finding themselves down 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, the Bolts scored 17 unanswered points to end the half with Philip Rivers connecting with Gates on two separate eight-yard touchdowns in the second quarter.
The Seahawks went on to outscore the Chargers 14-10 in the second half but it wasn’t enough to overcome a third touchdown by Gates as the home team held on to win 30-21 on opening day.
Antonio Gates, who caught three TD passes vs. Seattle, is, at 34, older than everyone on the Seahawks roster. http://t.co/vDiznj4K7W— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) September 15, 2014
While there are plenty of noteworthy performances, especially in the last few seasons, this one is special to me because Gates was an idol for me growing up. I played tight end through high school and into college but before I decided to commit to football I actually thought basketball was going to be my sport. But being 6’3 and unable to handle the rock meant I was relegated to playing as a tiny power forward.
I watched all the Gates film in the world and tried to model my game after the Chargers G.O.A.T. He was also the first Chargers jersey I ever purchased. Now, my most-prized possession is a signed game jersey by #85, himself.
His performance against the Seahawks was so invigorating for me and it was amazing to see someone we held in such high regard, who was also getting up there in age, put on a dominating display like he was back in his early twenties.
So that was my favorite individual performance I’ve gotten to witness by a Chargers player. Now what’s yours?