After a stammering loss in November of ‘01, then Colts head coach Jim Mora gave an epic speech, hammering himself and his reeling team. One intrepid reporter then asked Mora about his 4-6 team making the playoffs, to which the coach miserably exclaimed: “Playoffs? Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!”
Mora is my hero for giving such a legendary quote to the masses. I have a MP3 of it saved on my cell phone. If I’m ever in a bad mood I just play the clip and I can’t help but turn that proverbial frown upside down. Rainy day? Play the Mora clip. Lose $20? Play the Mora clip. Get cut off on the freeway? Use appropriate hand gesture then play the Mora clip
The way Jim Mora looked as he spat the word ‘playoffs’ from his mouth is the perfect way to articulate how important the playoffs truly are.
All of those off-season acquisitions, the draft day strategy, pre-season looks and regular season triumphs amount to a steaming pile of zip if you’re not playing in January.
Once your playoff ticket has been punched and the season expires, the room for error is naught. It’s win or see you next year. That notion has to be especially rough for the San Diego Chargers who have spent over a decade probing for a playoff win amidst seldom opportunities.
Last time the Chargers felt the manic rush of a playoff victory and sported those very timely and quite nifty postgame victory t-shirts and hats was the 1994 AFC Championship Game. They would go on to get summarily ass-handed by the San Francisco 49’ers in Super Bowl XXIX, and not get another victory t-shirt or hat since.
Let’s take a look back…
1995 brought a first round exit thanks to the Colts.
Eight seasons later the Chargers wouldn’t finish better than 3rd in the division.
Finally in 2004 the Bolts made it back to the dance only to see a NY Jets field goal attempt in overtime sail through the uprights and sink their season.
Last year, well, that wound is still itchy for many a Charger fan. Let me sum up: Chargers. Patriots. Scoring. Interception. Going for it? Miss. Where’s LaDainian? Interception! Fumble? Kick is good. Upset.
History tells us that the coming weeks don’t bode well for the Chargers.
However, it only takes one win to change history. That’s how important the playoffs are.
And on a side note, Dennis Green’s “they are who we thought they were” quip was pretty great, too.