(SBN Arizona columnist Dennis Tarwood was in San Diego for the Chargers/Cardinals game. After wiping off the bird blood splattered onto him in the upper deck by the Chargers offense, he filed this report.)
Creating an NFL schedule requires deftly negotiating the chicanes of stadium calendars, travel needs, strength of schedule, and two dozen other idiosyncrasies. Attempting to arrange any tomfoolery within that delicate latticework can only lead to heartache.
Still, it's quite the coincidence that a hundred Mexican dancers paraded around Qualcomm Stadium's field to celebrate the kickoff of Hispanic Heritage Month eight minutes before the start of the San Diego Chargers' matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Stuff just happens, y'know?
Cardinals fans traveled strongly to the game, many making a weekend of the trip. Those burly middle-aged men who traveled to Disneyland the day before the game found their Cardinals jerseys bore double entendres during Gay Days in Anaheim as red shirts declared who was there for which rides.
For some, it seemed the perfect escape weekend to express all their passions openly. For others, their step quickened.
Chargers fans barely noticed the Cards fans littering the lower bowl as thousands of seats went unsold despite the relatively short drive from Phoenix, marking the second non-sellout for the Charges this season. It's not like there's a rivalry. In fact, Chargers fans were downright polite to the visitors.
The ones in the stands, anyway. The ones on the field took a beat down so rough that Norv Turner received a summons from the World Court after the game. Undoubtedly, Matt Leinart's presence on the field would have been so much worse that the EPA would have declared Qualcomm to be a Superfund site.
As usual, the fight on the field was only part of the experience. It was still an NFL game where stadium workers don't gear up for hospitality but lock down for a battle against tens of thousands of drunken louts self-lubricating four hours before the game.
Food service professionals glared people along; some nearly demanded tips for their pain. Female security guards were manhandled gently by the nicer fans. The notion of an alcohol-free "family section" confused many who had to be reseated. Others described the area like hot lava to be avoided or sprinted across as quickly as possible to the safety of the Bud Light Zone.
While Philip Rivers looked like Dan Fouts from the family sections, Max Hall looked like Derek Anderson: hubris' leftovers. Chargers fans didn't even acknowledge their red-shirted interlopers as they cheered touchdown after touchdown. Cards fans getting up for soft pretzels in the second quarter nearly lost their seats as Chargers fans spread out, not expecting their return.
They weren't exactly wrong. As Cards fans filed out at the end of the third quarter, Chargers fans were too busy drunkenly swinging at each other and being pinned by security to notice. It was the best tackling by men in red in southern California all day. (Not all weekend, though.)
Side note: Padres fans at the game had to hope they didn't have AT&T as a mobile provider as updates on Game 162 waited for three updates on the Raiders game to pass before getting score postings only. There aren't enough camo uniforms in the world to make San Diego care about anything but the Chargers.
Not enough to show up to the game, of course, but still. Maybe they just need a stadium in Hillsborough.