The King, Fozzie, Woodhead and Cox, et al

Every year is the same
And I feel it again,
I'm a loser – no chance to win.

Leaves start falling,
Come down is calling,

Loneliness starts sinking in.

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted.  Those who have been Justice Leaguers for many years know that this is my least favorite time of the year.  The NFL, to their credit, have truly made themselves into a 365 day sport.  For those of us who remember the George Grande era of ESPN, it's fucking mind boggling to think about what the draft has become.  "Free Agent Frenzy," complete with the Office Depot board and movable name plate?  I think this is the first year for that one.  Anyway, the lyrics above are from "I'm One" by the Who.  As Sam and I sat on the floor of the Nassau Coliseum watching Quadrophenia in its entirety, I couldn't help but connect Townshend's words to the feeling of being a Charger fan right now.

At least Norv and AJ are gone.  Clary and Cason will soon follow.  With Kaeding and Castillo unable to hurt us anymore I've run out of my usual targets.  I know, I'm sure new ones will develop.  I know the Chargers don't have much room under the salary cap.  I also know that last year's signings of McClain, Johnson, Royal and Meachem were AJ's high-priced final attempt to keep his job.  I understand the situation that Tom Telesco is in right now.

But it's hard not to feel, as Kyle Broflovski so poignantly expressed many years ago, like a Jew on Christmas.  It's a feeling I know very well.  The Queefs and Bunkos are stocking their shelves for the coming season while we are seemingly at the dollar store.  Of course, every guy getting signed right now was unwanted by his former team.  In each case, there was a reason they were available.

In 1994, Bobby Beathard let Anthony Miller walk and signed a bunch of players with his salary.  Miller wore the same number Wes Welker will wear in Denver and was never heard from again.  The notion that John Elway is going "all in" is as played out as saying that a film or television franchise is undergoing a "reboot."  In 2004, the Chargers let Marcellus Wiley, David Boston and any other high-priced malcontents walk.  Guys like Steve Foley played better than we ever could have imagined and the team won 12 games.  Of course, we know how that season ended.

Telesco seems to be following a similar plan to the one he utilized in Indianapolis.  Of course, he wasn't the GM there.  What irritates me the most about Kevin Acee these days is his propensity for throwing himself into any development with the team as if he had predicted it all along.  Telesco inherited AJ Smith's mess, he now claims.  I don't recall him making that point at any time last season.  I don't mind the Chargers being cautious with this class of free agents.  Eric Winston, who is hardly a panacea on the offensive line, is still floating around.  I have to assume that the Chargers plan to address their porous line in the draft.  Either that, or they don't have the balls to get rid of Rivers and are hoping he'll be so battered by year's end that they won't have to.

King Dunlap is not apparently meant to start.  We must give thanks for that.  When I Tweeted that we had picked up another team's Clary, I wasn't kidding.  This guy inspired some noteworthy hatred among Eagles fans.  That's no small feat.  Derek Cox has had a checkered past, but I would welcome any change in our secondary.  I literally had no idea who Fozzie Whitaker was until I heard we had signed him.

The pickup of Danny Woodhead was an unexpected surprise.  I'm not quite sure why we had to re-sign Ronnie Brown afterwards, however.  We can only hope that Woodhead, or a healthy/competent Mathews, will eliminiate the need for Brown's two-year two yard runs towards the first-down marker.  Richard Goodman seems expendable.  I saw more from Spurlock in December then I saw in Goodman and Eddie Royal combined.  I can't seem to get a definitive answer about Spurlock's future with the Bolts.  If anyone knows if he's coming back, please let me know.  Alexander got the low tender offer, whatever the fuck that means.

I know what it means, obviously.  I just hate all this talk of business maneuvers.  It's one of the many reasons I don't like fantasy football.  I follow football so I don't have to think about leverage and negotiating tactics.  Hopefully, the Chargers' gamble will pay off and Alexander can stay in San Diego.  I know all about his health-plagued  history and why the Bolts are lowballing him.  But Vincent Brown will be coming off a serious injury of his own.  Malcom Floyd may have had a strong season on paper, but it sure didn't seem like that while watching it.  I refuse to believe that Robert Meachem was as bad as what we saw last season.

There were warning signs during the summer.  Rivers was clearly having trouble getting in sync with him.  There were numerous miscommunications that led to picks.  Joe Flacco and and Anquan Boldin played through January like Rivers and Vincent Jackson used to play in December.  That's one of the reasons I am so surprised that Baltimore let Boldin go.  Flacco was accurate as all hell but not many receivers can make those back shoulder fades look so effortless.  Clearly Rivers had gotten used to putting the ball in the neighborhood of his receiver and expecting him to come down with it.

Vincent Brown may very well be that guy in time.  But Rivers can't be so lackadaisical with the ball any more.  Honestly, I can't remember when I wasn't expecting him to come up short or turn it over in crunch time.  I desperately want to be wrong.  Every year, we see what a fine line it is between winning and losing in January.  Joe Flacco almost got picked off in the 4th quarter in Denver before his bomb.  I hope grabbing Denver's secondary coach wasn't a mistake.  Then again, I am sure he didn't tell Rahim Moore to lay off his man. 

Antonio "Hip Hop" Garay is back with the Jets.  It will be interesting how long they can tolerate him being on his back or on the bench.  Having funny hair only works if you back it up.  Brendon Ayanbadejo and Plaxico Burress would be punch lines for calling out the Patriots if their teams didn't take them down in January.   Speaking of trash talk, Shaun Phillips will soon be Tweeting from a new area code.  I won't miss a lot of his self-promoting bullshit, but I hope we find a way to make up for his production at linebacker.

Yeah, I posted the Wes Welker pic of his Super Bowl drop.  It's not like Peyton Manning has such a great postseason record even without him.  However, Peyton won beat Baltimore and New England during a January where we couldn't get out of our own way.  I don't care if Denver runs away with the division if we can just get into the playoffs again.  When we surrendered that 4th and 29 to Ray "I Can't Stop Rhyming, Fumbling and Getting Benched In The Super Bowl" Rice, I would never have thought that the Ravens would be hoisting the Lombardi.  It just takes an entrance into "the tournament."  AJ Smith was right about that.  Unfortunately, we never had the heart, brians or courage to finish the job.  Excuse the L. Frank Baum reference.  AJ was also right about drafting smart and developing (and retaining) your own talent.  Unfortunately, we never did much when he was doing that.  Then we let guys go and that's led us here.

Thanks to those who sent birthday wishes last Friday.  I'm feeling every bit 42 these days.  I am about halfway through my book, Drunk On Sunday.  Now I just need to find an agent to represent it.  If you have any leads, now is the time to step up.  If I end up self-publishing, I'm going to be counting on The Legion Of The Lightning Bolt to buy a few copies.  Thanks to my buddy DJ, who got Gregg Allman to sign this shot of himself on an early Family Guy.  You might remember that I was huge proponent of the show before its "hiatus."  Then it came back and the writing got lazy as the show sold a ton of merchandise.  Seth McFarlane is still funny as hell, however. 

Anyway, I am off to Manhattan for a belated birthday celebration with my buds.  I am taking a long weekend to catch the Allmans tomorrow night at The Beacon.  I haven't seen them on St. Pats since 1996.  Hopefully, I'll hold up alright.  I was surprised that the folks at Bovada Sports Book had us at 40-1 to win the Super Bowl.  But when you look at who's below us, it's not all that flattering. 

In the coming year, I pledge to upload some more tunes onto the site.  Here's Sugar Magnolia with Duane Allman from April 26, 1971 at the Fillmore East.  This version is from the new Duane Allman retrospective box set.  His guitar is far more prominent in the mix than any of the circulating soundboards.  If you don't have the show, here's the most recent remaster.  You can stream and download the old version here

I'll talk to you soon.  Happy 73rd to Phil Lesh.




About Ross Warner

ROSS WARNER is a forty-five year old freelancer whose credits include Sports Illustrated OnLine and Blitz as well as numerous articles on his favorite band, the Grateful Dead. Blah, Blah, Blah. Yeah, I was on WNEW FM the morning after the Chargers made the Super Bowl. Having returned from Pittsburgh only hours before, there I was at half-court at Madison Square Garden in my #12 jersey and wiping my sweat with a "Terrible Towel." When asked about the future for the newly-crowned AFC Champs, I simply uttered "justice is coming." Like so many others, I first took notice of the Chargers during the "Air Coryell" period of the late 1970s. But as Dan Fouts gave way to Ed Luther, Mark Hermann, Babe Laufenberg, Jim McMahon, David Archer, Mark Vlasic, Billy Joe Tolliver and John Freisz my fanaticism turned to obsession. When Stan Humphries resurrected the franchise in 1992, I began calling the Chargers organization to share my plan to get the team into the Super Bowl. This began the stormy rapport with the Chargers' Public Relations staff which reached a boiling point at a 1996 "team spirit" luncheon when I demanded that guard Eric Moten explain his propensity for holding penalties. It was then I realized I needed my own forum. Founded in 1995, Justice Is Coming is precisely that. To decide whether this site is for you, ask yourself these questions: Do you think of Johnny Unitas as an ex-Charger? Are your three children named JJ, Kellen and Wes, with one of them being a girl? Do you think that Rolf Benirschke got a raw deal on the daytime "Wheel of Fortune?" Can you remember where you were on December 3, 1984 when Bobby Duckworth fumbled the ball attempting to spike it on "Monday Night Football?" Does Al Davis, a dark alley and a lead pipe mean anything to you? If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then you, too, believe that Justice Is Coming. This is a weekly look at the San Diego Chargers through the eyes of someone who spends most of his time thinking about the Bolts so you don't have to. But being a Chargers fan is not an obligation, although it sometimes feels like it. So I offer you this "alternative perspective." All the football, film and music collides in the centrifuge that is my brain and this newsletter is the result.