To the tens of thousands of folks who have stopped attending Chief games this year, today's season finale against the Chargers is just another meaningless contest. However, for the Chargers and Coach Don Coryell, this is an important Sunday afternoon.
- The Chargers (8-7) cannot make the playoffs, but they have won three straight and can finish with a winning record for the first time in three seasons.
- Owner Alex Spanos hinted last Wednesday that he is going to bring back Coryell for at least the final year of his contract, which expires at the end of the 1986 season. Even though Spanos said he'd be satisfied with a 8-8 season, he said he would have a definitive statement on his plans Monday.
Coryell won't comment on what this game could mean to his career. The consensus among his players is that he should be brought back.
"He hasn't told us anything this week, but I'm behind him 100%," punter Ralf Mojsiejenko said. "I think it will be great if he is back. The only time he really talked to us about it was before the Buffalo game. He said he didn't care what the press was saying about his job. He just cared about self respect."
- Dan Fouts will not start the season finale for the third straight season, thereby giving Mark Herrmann an opportunity to lead the Chargers to two wins over the Chiefs this season. Fouts suffered a bruised left knee when he was hit by defensive end Greg Brown in the third quarter of the Chargers' 20-14 win over Philadelphia last Sunday. X-rays taken Friday night showed that Fouts has a small crack in the bone above his left knee. However, the Chargers still maintain that Fouts can play if necessary. In 1983, Fouts missed the final game with a shoulder injury, and last year, he was out with a groin injury.
Herrmann's first game as a starter was against the Chiefs on Oct. 13 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. He completed 26 of 36 passes for 320 yards in San Diego's 31-20 win. Last week, Herrmann came off the bench to complete 8 of 14 attempts for 114 yards and 1 touchdown and lead the Chargers from a 7-3 deficit to a 20-14 win over the Eagles.
- The Charger defense leads the AFC in interceptions with 26 and has averaged two a game since Dave Adolph took over as defensive coordinator following the fourth game of the season. Last week, Danny Walters intercepted two passes and Mike Green had one.
"We've been making the big plays late in the game and our young defensive backs are feeling more comfortable," Coryell said.
- Wide receiver Charlie Joiner needs 163 yards receiving to set a NFL record for yards receiving in a career. Don Maynard holds the mark with 11,834 yards. Joiner also needs one touchdown to set a personal season high with eight.
- Lionel James needs 170 total yards to set a NFL record for an all-purpose back, breaking Terry Metcalf's mark of 2,462 yards set in 1975. James has 78 receptions to tie Todd Christensen and Butch Woolfolk for the AFC lead. He needs 11 catches to surpass Rickey Young's NFL mark of 88 catches by a running back.
- Revenge is also on the minds of the Chargers. They remember the 42-21 loss to Kansas City in the season finale in San Diego last year. Kansas City led 42-0 in the third quarter.
How about this year's game against the Chargers?
"That was one of the worst we've played," he said. "We certainly weren't ready to play when we came out there."
Since that game, the Chargers are 5-4 and the Chiefs are 2-7. During their losing streak, Mackovic replaced quarterback Bill Kenney with Todd Blackledge.
As the losses mounted, there was speculation in Kansas City as to whether Mackovic would be retained. In a meeting last Wednesday, Kansas City owner Lamar Hunt told Mackovic he would be back.
"Our morale is good at this time, but we have gone through some trying times," Mackovic said.