Mr. President, today I wish to send my congratulations to the San Diego Chargers for the remarkable way that they turned around their 2008 season in the National Football League.
During difficult economic times, as they face hardships and uncertainty, millions of sports fans across America turn to their hometown teams for solace and inspiration.
Few teams this year faced as many hardships as the Chargers, and few teams in any year have overcome adversity with such inspiring tenacity.
Hampered by injuries to star running back LaDainian Tomlinson and other key players and suffering through a series of heartbreaking losses, the Chargers began the 2008 season with just four wins in their first twelve games. With three weeks to go in the regular season, they trailed the division-leading Denver Broncos by three games. Though their fans remained loyal and the team remained confident, few outside observers gave them any chance of reaching the NFL playoffs.
Over the next five weeks, though, the Chargers made an amazing run. Beginning on December 4th, three consecutive San Diego victories and two Denver losses left the Chargers just one game back entering a December 28th showdown with the Broncos.
In the decisive game, the Chargers staged an awe-inspiring offensive display to crush the Broncos 52-21 and win the AFC Western Division championship. They became the first team in NFL history to have been 4-8 and make the playoffs and the first team ever to win their division after being three games behind the leaders with three games to play.
Six days later, on January 3rd, the Chargers faced a terrific Indianapolis Colts team in the playoffs. In perhaps the greatest NFL game ever played in San Diego, the Chargers beat the Colts in overtime, 23-17.
Every playoff tournament ends sadly for every team but one. Last Sunday, on a snowy day in Pittsburgh, the mighty Steelers ended the Chargers season.
But nothing can dim the luster of the Chargers’ late-season run. Their dramatic turnaround is an inspiration to sports fans everywhere.
Mr. President, I grew up in Brooklyn, in the shadow of Ebbets Field, where baseball fans endured years of frustration with the annual cry of “Wait Till Next Year.” When I was in high school, our dream finally came true, and “next year” became this year.
With a talented young team that has triumphed over adversity, the San Diego Chargers can look forward to next year with pride and confidence. I salute the Charger players, coaches, staff, and ownership – along with their loyal fans – for a great 2008 season.
And we shall be back next year, with a healthy Shawn Merriman and (hopefully) a healthy LaDainian Tomlinson.....that is, if A.J. Smith doesn't do anything stupid.....like let his ass go.
Edit: From The Count: With Jonathan's permission I would like to make this the official NFC-AFC Championships thread.
In the NFC we have the Eagles Vs The Cardinals
and in the AFC we have the Steelers vs The Ravens.