Chargers Say Thank You to San Diego

Team makes surprise visits around town

You may have seen several large men (and Danny Woodhead) walking around San Diego County wearing Chargers uniforms on Wednesday. The Chargers declared the day “Thank You San Diego Day” and sent just about everyone on the roster out to surprise and say thank you to fans.

“We’re spread out all over the city and hopefully people are as excited as we are about the upcoming year,” said quarterback Philip Rivers, who was with the quarterbacks and tight ends group at Belmont Park and the Sports Arena area.

The last time the Chargers did something like this was before the 2013 season, when they had a new coaching staff (coincidentally that was also the last time the team made the playoffs so maybe this is good karma). While players will sign autographs and take photos during training camp, this type of event makes for quite the unique experience.

“The thing I like the most, which is highly understated, is the personal touch,” said right tackle Joe Barksdale, who was among the offensive linemen touring Little Italy and the new Horton Plaza Park. “There’s no security team here, there are no fences here, there’s just players interacting with fans. I think that’s something that the NFL in general has kind of gotten away from. It’s nice to be able to interact with people on a one-on-one basis.”

Barksdale has only spent one season in San Diego but his sentiment was echoed by a man who has played more than a decade in America’s Finest City.

“I’m always so focused and have tunnel vision on trying to win a Super Bowl, but this is a great city,” said tight end Antonio Gates. “I’m trying to play some games and sign some autographs and just be able to mingle with our supporters over the years.”

Of course, saying thank you was not the only motivation for the event. Several groups of players were followed by people working to gather signatures for the Chargers stadium/convention center citizens’ initiative. The players and coaches say they were not openly campaigning for support, just enjoying their interaction with San Diegans and saying thank you

“It’s great to be able to come out and thank the fans, a lot of the fans that we wouldn’t be able to thank,” said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who was with the linebackers in the Gaslamp Quarter. “You don’t get to say thank you to everybody. It’s great to get out in the community and just tell them thank you.”

If nothing else, it seemed to make a whole lot of people happy to see their professional football team taking an interest in them.

“People are stopping their cars, honking their horns, running across the street, it’s a great experience,” said linebacker Denzel Perryman. “I’m excited just like these fans are. I like seeing people smiling, being excited, wanting autographs, taking photographs, it’s fun.”

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