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Spanos ponders ’09 schedule
When Chargers President Dean Spanos received the team’s 2009 schedule Tuesday afternoon, he did what most fans do.
He looked for the nationally-televised games and found five this season, including the preseason game in Atlanta.
“It shows a great deal of respect for the organization,” Spanos said.
He looked for the rivalry games, the bye, the 2008 playoff teams, and the unique trips.
Then he paused and laughed a little about playing through the entire 2009 season in his mind when the first game is still five months away.
“Things are different every year,” Spanos said. “Every year has a totally different dynamic. Typically we all sit around and analyze the schedule, but it never plays out exactly the way you think it’s going to because the season never works the way you think it’s going to. That’s the fun of it.”
Chargers fans were on Spanos’ mind as he took his first peek through the 2009 slate. After a Week 1 game in Oakland, the Chargers return to San Diego for consecutive home games against 2008 playoff teams.
“The thing that I get excited about is how the fans are going to perceive it,” Spanos said. “We have an exciting schedule this year and it’s going to be great for the fans.
“Our first home game is against the Ravens, who I think are an outstanding team. It should be a real competitive game. Then we play Miami, and I’d like to get back at the Dolphins after what they did to us a year ago.”
The team’s pursuit of a fourth-consecutive AFC West title contains plenty of challenges. In all, the Chargers face half (6) of all of the teams that made the playoffs last season, including three of the four teams that played in the conference title games. The two teams that dropped the conference championship games, Philadelphia and Baltimore, visit San Diego.
They’ll also play a Christmas Day game in Nashville where they’ll face the Titans on the holiday just five days after the Bolts host the Bengals.
“That’s part of our business,” Spanos said. “It’s tough traveling across the country on a short week. The players are away from home on Christmas playing a team that has been in the playoffs the last two years. It’s another challenge for us, but I believe Coach Turner does a great job getting the team ready every week and that’s what he’ll do that week.”
One unique aspect of the 2009 schedule is the layout of the team’s AFC West play. By Week 8, the Chargers will have played each AFC West opponent at least once, and they’ll be done with the Oakland Raiders. Their final divisional game comes in Week 12 against the Chiefs.
“We play a lot of our division games early,” Spanos said. “It’s a little bit unusual to be through with division play with five games to go. That’s a different dynamic than we’ve seen in a long time.”
In Week 14, the Chargers will play in Dallas’ new billion-dollar stadium, a building that Spanos can’t wait to visit.
“It’s a chance for a lot of our fans to see a new state-of-the-art facility,” Spanos said. “I’m excited to go see it. It’s going to be a tough game and those Cowboys fans are going to make it a tough environment, but we need to go in there and beat them.”
Spanos sees the 2009 schedule as a challenging one, but believes it plays out great for Chargers fans.
“Every NFL schedule is difficult,” Spanos said. “We’ve got a great schedule of home games for our fans. We’ve got a lot of challenging games, but we need to just go prepare ourselves and play."