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NFL PLAYOFFS : SAVING THE NHL SEASON : His Loyalty Goes South to Those Nutty Chargers

The defensive linemen for the San Diego Chargers are, from left to right, the Fat Doctor, Grizzly, Woobie Doobie and Leslie. I have heard names far more fearsome for foursomes.

A tight end for the San Diego Chargers is a guy named Pupunu who celebrates a touchdown by pretending to uncap the football like a coconut, then guzzle the liquid from inside it before spiking. He swears that it tastes like pineapple juice.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like the San Diego Chargers? They seem like a sweet bunch of guys. I had left these Boltheads for dead after their sorry excuse for an effort against the Raiders, but now that they have a shot at the AFC championship, I really want them to be in the Super Bowl.

Because:

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(a) Buffalo won’t be.

(b) Pittsburgh’s been there.

(c) San Diego hasn’t.

(d) Out, damn Rams! We’re Charger fans now!

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I like the attitude of these San Diegans. I like that cannon they shoot off after touchdowns, although it tends to wake up everybody at the Lawrence Welk resort. I like that theme song of theirs, “San Diego . . . Super Chargers!” which still seems funky as ever, although I believe it was first sung by the Village People.

And I like the way the Chargers play. Namely, hard.

For example, take Chris Mims, alias “the Fat Doctor,” who chased Dan Marino all over the field in last Sunday’s playoff game.

“You really went after Marino,” someone said after the game.

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To which Mims said: “Yeah. I got tired of hearing ‘Dan, Dan, Dan’s the man.’ ”

Yeah, I can’t wait until Fat Doctor, Grizzly, Woobie Doobie and Leslie are chasing Steve Young or Troy Aikman all over that Super Bowl field.

I can hear Mims now, saying, “I got tired of hearing ‘Troy, Troy, Troy’s our boy.’ ”

As you know, when we interview contestants during Super Bowl week, we tend to tell you everything about every player from his favorite snack to his shoe size. And at some point during the week, someone named Downtown Julie Brown will come around to ask each player one of her probing, Mike Wallace-like questions, something like, “You’re a great player. Why?”

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Well, wait until you hear these San Diego Charger stories.

For example, Woobie Doobie’s.

Woobie Doobie is not a robot built by George Lucas, but the pseudonym of Reuben Davis, a defensive right tackle who goes 6 feet 5 and 340 pounds and is afraid of the dark.

Well, maybe not afraid. “I grew up a scaredy-cat,” Reuben does admit. “I don’t think it’s that I’m afraid of the dark. I’ve got this claustrophobia thing.”

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Wait until he’s surrounded at the Super Bowl by dozens of reporters, several of whom haven’t bathed.

Back when the Chargers were 6-0, I saw them interviewed on ESPN and immediately I realized two things: (a) That San Diego actually had a shot at the Super Bowl, and (b) Most of the Chargers were funnier than anybody on ESPN.

That is why I am pulling for them to defeat Pittsburgh, even though I suspect that there are also some pretty funny Steelers.

Look, I have been around the San Francisco 49ers. Not funny.

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Interviewed many Dallas Cowboys. Not funny.

But I sincerely believe that the San Diego Chargers can amuse all of us through seven days of Super Bowl hype and tripe. Mims can tell us how he stole his nickname from some dude called “the Fat Doctor” who made him lose weight and become Slim Mims. And then we can tell Shawn (Grizzly) Lee to shorten his nickname to Grizz Lee and save a lot of time, even though he might not play Sunday because of a knee injury.

We can also hold a Let’s Get Leslie O’Neal a Nickname contest. (Shaq, of course, being taken.)

I can’t wait for the Chargers to beat Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to see Alfred Pupunu and his pineapple spike. I can’t wait to see everybody celebrate.

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Especially Bobby Ross, their coach.

“How did you celebrate winning the division?” Ross was asked after San Diego clinched the AFC West title.

He tried to remember.

“A bowl of noodle soup and some peanut butter crackers when I got home,” he said.

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These San Diego people. They win, they go wild.


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