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Dean Spanos: The Fans “Were There in Full Force”
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A day after the San Diego Chargers clinched a berth to the playoffs, President Dean Spanos sat down to discuss what reaching the postseason this year means to him.
Here is what he had to say:
Spanos: It’s been exciting obviously, but like I said yesterday nobody gave us much of a chance. A year ago Tom Telesco, John Spanos, Mike McCoy, Ed McGuire and I all met and we all believed we had a chance to get to the playoffs. It was very clear, and they put a lot of emphasis on it, that we were one of the teams that had a very strong quarterback in Philip Rivers. We knew we had other parts of the puzzle as well to help get us there including Ryan Mathews. We had to add players who could come in and help us immediately out of the draft as well as in free agency, and we did in Danny Woodhead and King Dunlap to name a couple. We had things in place that we needed to make a run to the playoffs, and that was really the first goal. Now the second goal is to go far in the playoffs.
Question: You said it best in that nobody gave us a chance heading into the season, and they didn’t give us much of a chance a couple weeks ago. Still, this team never stopped believing in itself. What does it say about the makeup of this team that it never lost faith?
Spanos: It’s a very resilient team. We’ve had some highs and lows this year as you know. We had some incredible wins against some very good teams such as Indianapolis, Kansas City and Denver to name a few, but we also lost some games that were heartbreakers. You look back at Washington, that one really sticks in my mind. But that’s the way it goes. And we did not play very well yesterday and everyone knows it. But we found a way to win at the end of the game. Like I’ve always said, you have to be good, injury free and lucky. We did get some breaks yesterday, but we also had a lot of things go against us especially early in the season. I believe overall those breaks even out.
Question: Coach McCoy gave you a game ball yesterday in the locker room. What did that mean to you?
Spanos: It’s very special. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike and the staff he’s put together. But that shows he has confidence in me and he believes in me. I’ve told him that my job is to give him all the tools and players he needs to get us to the Super Bowl. I’m committed to that and remain committed to that.
Question: You’ve said getting into the playoffs is just the first step of the journey. Can you talk a bit about the team’s mindset moving forward?
Spanos: The first step is to get in the tournament. That’s the key thing. Whatever it takes to get in you do it. You give yourself a chance. We’re one of six right now and we’re the sixth seed so it’s going to be on the road the whole way if we get there. Right now it’s sudden death. We’re looking at Cincinnati this week and nothing else matters. We’re going there and it’s going to be a hard game for us. The weather is going to be cold, but that’s the path we’ve put ourselves in and we’re going to have to overcome that.
Question: Finally, you talked about having to go on the road, but four of our last five games were at home. What tangible impact do you think having such strong fan support late in the season had on our success?
Spanos: That was a playoff atmosphere yesterday, and it was terrific. The intensity in the crowd; when I was down on the field I couldn’t hear anything. And that’s what we want every week. There is a lot to be said for the crowd being the true 12th man on the team. It’s just great to have the support. I’ve always said we have the greatest fans in the league, and they were there (yesterday) in full force.