Game Review: Rams v. Chargers, 10.29.06.
The San Diego Chargers must have the best fans.
Before Eagles (or Giants or others) fans blow a gasket, let me explain.
Chargers fans must be dedicated like an athlete training for the Ironman. They demonstrate their determination, and perhaps self-loathing, by enduring the arduous task of just getting into Qualcomm Stadium ("Qualcomm").
This place is a disgrace. I have attended sporting events across the country, but nothing compares to the torture that Qualcomm inflicted on me and the rest of the sell-out crowd trying to get into this mess. As I approached the stadium about one hour before kickoff, I got into the vehicular queue which stretched from about the freeway exit to the stadium entrance about a mile or so away. The folks with the orange cones were so kind to squeeze three lanes into one. After eating the exhaust of the trucks and cars in this soul-crushing line, I finally reached the entrance--or what I thought was the entrance--to the stadium parking lot.
Instead, I was greeted by oh-so-helpful-gentlemen standing in front of a phalanx of even more orange cones saying that the parking lot was only open to those with disabled or other special permits. It would have been nice to know that earlier. While the folks were kind enough to strategically place other sandwich-board type signs indicating that traffic would be heavy before and after the game (Ya think?), nothing was imparted about the parking lot being full. I got to learn that only after going through the gauntlet of traffic. Thanks, again.
Then, "The Odyssey, Part Deux" commenced. This odyssey involved the nearly hapless effort to locate any off-site parking for the stadium. After passing apartment complex after apartment complex with threatening signs to sports fans seeking to park, and other businesses who haven't figured out that you can license your precious, empty parking spaces to temporary parkers for a pretty penny, I located a spot in a sketchy part of a Mission Valley residential neighborhood. At this point, the trek turned pedestrian. Visions of Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles abounded.
"The Odyssey, Part Three" involved a near marathon jog through greater San Diego County back to the stadium. While I enjoy physical exercise, I don't like to partake of it when I planned to be watching others. After about 35 minutes of that unscheduled workout, I arrived at the stadium to observe plenty of empty parking spaces in the supposedly "full" parking lot. As I traversed through rows of RVs, I saw a grill that got away from some one. This conflagration was no ordinary fire; it was billowing smoke like the Towering Inferno. I then was treated to the spectacle of fire engines trying to make their way through the wall of metal--otherwise known as the traffic queue that I just endured.
Once I got to the stadium about halfway through the first quarter, I got to see the Chargers score. Led by LaDanian Tomlinson, the Chargers controlled this game winning 38-24, and it wasn’t that close. For the game, LT chewed up nearly 240 all-purpose yards.
It seemed the announcer constantly updated the crowd with LT’s latest record or achievement. For example, during this game, LT tied Emmitt Smith as the second-fastest player to amass 80 TDs (Jim Brown was the first), and he also went over 8,000 rushing yards in his relatively short NFL career.
Just before halftime, two very disgruntled Rams fans arrived to take their seats next to mine. They said it took them seven hours to get to the game from the LA area, and this included three hours just trying to find parking and then trekking into the stadium. Notably, this contest was the first regular season game the Rams have played in Southern California since the team left in 1994, so these Rams fans were motivated. Despite 12 years of anticipation, this disgraceful experience made them want to wait another 12, I surmised.
In addition to the action on the field, I got to see a two-year-old boy’s hair colored in blue and gold and fashioned into a mohawk of sorts. I was also treated to hear a fellow with a fog-horn-like voice providing running commentary and tips to the coaching staff who were only about a half-mile too far away to hear it. I also got to see fisticuffs between Rams and Chargers fans. Keeping things even more intriguing, I saw numerous fashion ensembles that should probably be illegal. As an added bonus, the local mental hospital apparently had "furlough day" just in time to go to the game.
Nevertheless, there is nothing like the NFL experience.