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The Inevitable and Perpetual Purgatory Of The Los Average Chargers

Sean Ryan. Shutterstock Images.

If you haven't been reading my weekly NFL sad stats blog and you're a fan of a Fyre Fest team like me, friendly reminder you all have a free pass to Club Sad every week. But the only thing sadder for a fan than having a sad team is not having an outlet to vent-read about said sad team. 

Take Cowboy Randy's replies for example:

Careful what you wish for Randy because I'm in a bad mood this week after my Chicago Bears started making the Urban Meyer Jaguars era sound respectable. Back in the basement we go. That's the hell us Bears fans are in. But the Chargers are such a different brand of sad. A much worse brand. Being a fan of a terrible team like my Bears or the 0-16 Browns/Lions is tragic, but we can rest on our laurels of having zero hope or aspiration. These are the attributes that perpetually curse this fanbase. 

You won't find rage-filled rants or personal insults below Chargers fans. What you'll find is much worse. Cold, hard reality. You're about to learn that instead of hell, your favorite little team resides in perpetual purgatory. This isn't about a player, a coach, a GM, or an owner. It's about a franchise. A franchise that after fluctiating one way or another always finds itself back in the same natural state of being. A state of absolute average. Minus one.

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There's no turning back now Cowboy Randy.

478-479-11. 

The franchise win/loss/tie record for the NFL's Los Average Chargers as it stands the date of this blog's posting. A team that was exactly .500 before losing last week to an also average Tennessee Titans team in an amazingly average affair. Even after regulation the Chargers entire franchise would remain .500 until - like pretty much always - they found a way to slip back just beneath the cozy covers of average by losing in overtime. 

Hope I'm not being too… mean here, but this disposition of returning to slightly less than average is a miracle only explained by the handiwork of the football gods. This franchise has defied all laws of mathematics to sit on this very day one game beind .500. Every game they've ever played has a role in the making of this almost mediocre club. Including the events that happened in this trip down repressed Chargers fan memory lane curtesy of NFL.com.

Giphy Images.

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There's no escape. No matter what seemingly positive things happen. Whatever you think might break the spell enslaving them in their purgatory - the Chargers will always Charger right back to this eternal slightly less than state of existence. 

The Justin Herbert era was supposed to break the spell. Drafted in 2020 when the Chargers sat comfortably on their rightful average throne with 452 franchise wins and 452 franchise loses. The graph belows shows their franchise wins above .500 by week starting in 2020 from the top going to the present day at the bottom at -1 where the Chargers have found themselves 13 times during this era. 

Herbert is no savior. He's no hero nor villian. He's…. Just. Justin this perpetually purgatory with everyone else. He made his entrance in Week 2 of 2020 after the Charger's not quite average doctor punctured the lungs of Tyrod Taylor, their not quite average starting quarterback. But the vibes were still high from Herbert's performance in an overtime loss to the much better than average Kansas City Chiefs. Even so, their season would end up with a 7-9 record including going 1-2 in overtime games. Price Is Right perfection in both rights. Just below the surface of midiocre. Achieving as much as possible without being noticed by anyone on the surface. 

The Chargers are 26-26 in the regular season since drafting Herbert. Perfectly average. But as the graph reveals that doesn't tell the entire tale. The 0-1 playoff record puts the cherry on top of this off brand sundae from an off brand ice cream parlor in an off brand town. The Justin Herbert era stands in Charger equilibrium at 26-27. Average. Minus one. 

Douglas P. DeFelice. Getty Images.

I know you don't want to hear about that playoff game. There's no reason to relitigate the wounds you wear still yet to scar. But we're going to relitigate anyway. The game itself was an experiment proving the cold scientific reality of this team's natural state. In true Chargers fashion they made sure to gas their fanbase with electric excitement by blowing the doors off the Jaguars 27-0 deep in the second quarter. A thrill and excitement that would never happen for my Bears or an 0-16 Browns/Lions. 

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We all know how it ended. It didn't matter how hot they started off. It didn't matter what momentum they thought they had. The spell wasn't broken. Only cooking. Brewing in the beaker of sad truth just waiting to fizzle over. The physics of chemistry knows no mercy. Only objective truth. And that's what the fans from Los Angeles got. Despite a 27-0 lead the Chargers would end up scoring just as many points as the Jacksonville Jaguars by games end.

Minus one.

31-30. A second half strike of lightning from the Jaguars brought back the inevitable order to the visitors branded on both sides of their helmets with its name. The lightning bolt. An emblem more apt than you know. What seems exciting and impressive at first glance hides the reality from within. Much like lightning, the Chargers dazzle you for but a moment before leaving you in an instant with a faint mirage of its image burnt into your retinas and tricking your eyes into thinking maybe it's still there. You know better though. You've seen this stunt before. The light you only got a glimpse of is long gone. 

Giphy Images.

Lightning is the perfect mascot for this team. Produced when negatively charged particles fall from the bottom of clouds to meet with positively charged particles raised from the ground, it's not until both meet and cancel each other out that lightning is born. Lighting is the product of this equal union between postives and negatives. It's about evening things up. Lightning is average personified with the small exception that oftentimes the heat it emits can rip some of the joining particles apart. So almost everything evens up with just a slight bit of loss. What a perfect mascot. It's everything the Los Average Chargers always have been and will always be. 

But wait! An OG fan might sadly retort that the Chargers aren't actually named after lighting. They'd be right. But the end game is the same. You see despite moving cities, the Chargers have always resided in Southern California who's mountain ranges prevent the area from having many storms. Despite what their logo would have you believe, the Chargers name came not from the most exciting part of a storm but from one of the lamest, ordinary things we all carry around. If you didn't already know you're going to want to sit down for this one. When you do you might even feel it in your billfold.

The San Diego Chargers were dead ass named after credit cards. 

Giphy Images.

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That's right. Credit cards. Founded in 1960 in the infancy of credit card companies, this team's name was used as a ploy for people to get plastic. How so very LA. But this drastic difference in mascot meaning does nothing to change the mascot symbolysm of their real home address in purgatory. The Charger's modus operandi remains. Like lightning and like this football team, credit cards give much excitement at first but always bring you disappointingly back to even. Everything it gives, you have to pay back. Except a little bit more because you have to pay interest. 

There's truly no escape Chargers fans. It's the same motif no matter what you do. You're stuck in a joyless fun house that shows your horrid image in the mirrored walls no matter where you turn. This is your purgatory. So good luck out there on Sunday. Gotta think the odds are in your favor as you sit at 0-2. You're one win away from regaining a little hope. A spark of excitement. From wondering if you're finally on the right path after all these years. From at least not being winless. From being 1-2.

Average. Minus one. 

- Jeffro