Monday, December 11, 2006

Lesson in Winning

When you look at the NFL stats for last weekend none of the San Diego Chargers’ players show up as leaders. None of our receivers caught the most passes, none of our running backs ran for the most yards, etc. (Well, okay, LaDanian Tomlinson did set a record for most touchdowns in a season this past weekend. More about that in a moment.)

At 11-2, however, San Diego has the best record in the NFL and this team is the only one in the league that has clinched its division.

Football is a team sport, a concept that seems to have been lost in the days of Terrell Owens and his ilk. Vince Lombardi did not allow players to brag about, or even to collect individual statistics. His point was that when you played for him you devoted your energy to the team, not to personal glory. That’s why the Green Bay Packers in the Vince Lombardi era became such a dynasty.

And that’s why the Chargers are the first team in the AFC to clinch their division this year. Oh, make no mistake, the Chargers team does not lack talent, far from it. They have individuals with tremendous talent at every position, but they have a remarkable affinity for each other and they truly play as a team.

When the team members speak in public they are always speaking about the other guys. LaDanian Tomlinson, having just set a season record for touchdowns, talks about the role that the rest of the team played in that accomplishment. The receivers talk about the quarterback. The quarterback talks about the offensive line and the receiver corps.

LaDanian Tomlinson says that he’s glad the record “is behind me, so that now I can just go back to playing football.” (Or words to that effect.) When asked about the league MVP award he said that it wasn’t important to him.

This team is a winner. Not because they win games, but because they are a group of young men who are more focused on what they are putting into the game than on what they are getting from it.

There’s a lesson for living in that.


  1. "...this team is the only one in the league that has clinched its division."

    I think you forgot the Bears, who clinched their division last weekend with their win over the Vikings (even before last night's game against the Rams).

    The Chargers are the only team in their conference, perhaps, who has clinched. But they're not the only team in the league to have done so.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Sorry about my oversight. The Bears are playing pretty awesome football, and your point is well taken.

    Still, if you substitute AFC for NFL my point is still valid. It's about a team that relies on teamwork rather than individial stars.