A Charger Four-Peat? Only Time Will Tell
Can the Chargers find happiness after Billy Joe Tolliver?
Maybe that’s not the question.
Will the Chargers ever find happiness after Dan Fouts?
Once again, the local doormats are on the doorstep of another National Football League season. Billy Joe has taken his drawl to Joe-Jah, where the natives will understand him and maybe take him into their hearts.
That leaves his old teammates to fend for themselves and try to maintain the consistency that produced a 6-10 record in 1988, a 6-10 record in 1989 and a 6-10 record in 1990.
Can they do it once again and thereby establish themselves as the most consistent franchise in the history of professional sports?
After consulting with experts in two saloons, three salons and a shoeshine stand, I can reasonably project the wonders ahead . . .
Sept. 1, at Pittsburgh
Gasp, look what the Chargers have done! They have come out with a single-wing formation, featuring a backfield of Marion Butts, Rod Bernstine, Ronnie Harmon and Eric Bieniemy. Look, Mom, no quarterback! Among them, they rush 86 times for 588 yards in a 31-17 victory.
Record: 1-0 Sept. 8, at San Francisco
The Quarterbacks United Alliance for Caring and Kindness (QUACK) insists that two quarterbacks must start each game. Consequently, the 49ers start both Joe Montana and Steve Young. Stanley Richard is the first Charger to catch a pass. Unfortunately for the 49ers, it was thrown by Young. Richard’s 74-yard return gives the Chargers a 10-7 victory.
Sept. 15, Atlanta
Butts throws the Chargers’ first pass of the year, a halfback option to tackle eligible Broderick Thompson for a touchdown. However, B.J. Tolliver comes off the Atlanta bench and engineers a 96-yard scoring drive in the final 1:27 for a 13-7 Falcon victory.
Sept. 22, at Denver
Colorado declares it Eric Bieniemy Week to honor the former University of Colorado star, but festivities are spoiled when he fumbles three times and throws an interception in a 2-0 Denver victory.
Sept. 29, Kansas City
The Chiefs have the best secondary in the NFL, but they leave it home and line up with a newly designed 4-4-3 defense: four tackles, four ends and three linebackers. It shuts down the Charger single-wing in a 12-0 Kansas City victory.
Oct. 6, at Raiders
Fights break out in the parking lot because of disruptive pickets from QUACK, who learn that the Raiders are going to also run the single-wing with Marcus Allen, Bo Jackson, Roger Craig and Nick Bell. Roger Craig wins the game with a split-fingered pass to Jackson, who takes it long distance in his Nikes for a 7-6 victory.
Oct. 13, at Rams
Antsy Alex Spanos insists that a pass must be thrown to open up the offense. John Kidd tries it from punt formation on fourth and three late in the game. Gary Plummer catches it, but the Rams’ newly acquired Bill Bates tackles him short of the first down. Jim Everett sneaks for the winning touchdown in a 17-14 Ram victory.
Oct. 20, Cleveland
Anthony Miller returns three kickoffs for touchdowns in a 21-6 victory, later complaining that he wants to play on offense as well as special teams.
Oct. 27, at Seattle
On the week in which San Diego State Coach Al Luginbill finally names a starting quarterback for 1991, his old quarterback, Dan McGwire, passes for four touchdowns in a 38-10 Seahawk victory.
Bye week . . . Bye, Dan
Nov. 10, Seattle
In H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s first game as head coach, the Chargers line up strong in the middle and then send Ronnie Harmon around the left side for the decisive touchdown in a 14-13 victory.
Nov. 17, New Orleans
Schwarzkopf, citing the total lack of air support, resigns and Andrew Jackson VIII takes over as head coach. He loses the battle with New Orleans, 3-2.
Nov. 24, at New York Jets
A gimme. The Jets could not even beat Harvard or Columbia or Smith. They are 0-11. Until Nov. 24. They beat the Chargers, 12-9.
Record: 4-8 (Jets now 1-11)
Dec. 1, Raiders
An exotic dancer named Lumpy Barbaroosa runs on to the field wearing only a silver and black bow tie. Otherwise, it is a boring 8-7 Raider victory as the Chargers run for 17 yards and do not attempt a pass, except at Lumpy. It is incomplete.
Dec. 8, at Kansas City
Steve DeBerg, the Chiefs’ 71-year-old quarterback, passes for 402 yards and outlasts the Chargers, who get 302 yards rushing from Rod Bernstine. The Chargers have the ball 52 of the 60 minutes, but lose, 24-10.
Dec. 15, Miami
Desperation arrives in San Diego. The single-wing goes out the window. A kid named John Friesz is named quarterback. Through 14 games, this team had attempted four passes (including the one at Lumpy) and completed two with one intercepted. They open it up and Friesz throws for five touchdowns in a 38-3 victory.
Dec. 22, Denver
Can they do it? Can they win The Big One? Can they get to 6-10 once again?
You bet they can.
This Friesz is a can-do guy. He throws for 437 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-6 victory.
Alex Spanos pops a champagne cork, Andrew Jackson says he is taking his mom to the French Quarter, John Friesz asks for a renegotiated contract and Lumpy is seen running through the parking lot with a blue and gold bow tie.