A lost Chargers season ends Sunday with a game that, for a team that has plummeted to a 5-10 record, holds little significance.
That doesn’t mean the final week of the 2019 season is all meaningless.
“I complain about my days and how good do I have it?” Joey Bosa said. “Just seeing a kid like that, such a fighter and having such a positive attitude despite what he’s been dealt, it’s just inspiring, you know.”
On Thursday morning, Caleb Jones-Moreno had the first half of his 17th chemotherapy treatment at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The second half is scheduled for Friday.
In between, Bosa and the Chargers celebrated Caleb’s courage and his family’s story by the presenting the 11-year-old with two tickets to Super Bowl LIV.
“This is a kiss from heaven,” said Caleb’s father, Alex. “We’re super, super grateful. It’s like, ‘This is serious? This is really happening?’ ”
Bosa met Caleb during a hospital visit in September. The two played Madden that day — Caleb won — and connected almost immediately.
They played again Thursday at the team’s Costa Mesa training facility, with both choosing to be the Chargers, and Caleb successfully defended his earlier victory.
Just three days ago, Caleb was in his native Uganda doing charity work with his father, mother Shunna, and sister Layla.
The Jones-Moreno family was there as part of their organization, “Reach Up Reach Out.” The non-profit works largely with orphans in East Africa.
“Seventeen rounds of chemo and he was just in Uganda giving away Christmas presents,” Bosa said. “If you can’t learn something from that I don’t know what you’re looking at.”
Alex and Shunna, who live in Northridge, adopted Caleb and brought him to the United States in 2015. Eight months ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer.
The parents were told the disease has a 30% survival rate. They were told Caleb’s left leg might need to be amputated. They were told the cancer had spread to his lungs.
He has since undergone one surgery to save his leg and a second procedure that found his lungs to be cancer-free. After Friday, he is scheduled for one more round of chemo.
“Caleb simply does not have a bad day,” Alex said. “A lot of it has to do with his life in Uganda. He remembers what life was like there. Now that he’s here, he doesn’t take anything for granted. He has taught us a lot.”
During one of Caleb’s recent chemo treatments, he wanted to show off his strength and his spirit. So he started doing pushups.
“I’m sure our son has bad days,” Shunna said. “But he doesn’t let it steal his joy. He keeps smiling. We can all learn from him.”
The Chargers have nothing but pride to play for Sunday in Kansas City, while the Chiefs are still battling for playoff seeding.
Coach Anthony Lynn said the fact the outcome will have no bearing on their season shouldn’t negatively impact the effort of his players. He also said he wasn’t looking to manufacture any incentives to ensure their full attention or participation this week.
“I don’t believe in trying to trick men into playing football,” Lynn said. “We’re professionals. We have a job to do. I expect everybody to show up on Sunday and do their job.”
When the NFL schedule came out, a Chargers-Chiefs matchup in Week 17 held promise as a potentially enormous AFC West showdown.
Instead, Kansas City has wrapped up the division title and the Chargers have clinched last place. They are looking to avoid an 0-6 finish in the West.
“Yeah, we thought this game would have more significance, for sure,” Lynn said. “But it’s still a big game for us because it’s an opportunity to play in the National Football League.”
Left tackle Russell Okung (groin) did not practice again Thursday and likely won’t play in the finale. Rookie Trey Pipkins started in Okung’s place Sunday and split time with Trent Scott. … Quarterback Philip Rivers this week dismissed the notion that the Chargers’ moving into the new SoFi Stadium next season was one reason he wanted to continue playing. He called it “not really a motivating factor.”