“Convadium,” crooned my partner in gadabouting Pemberton Throckmorton III, drawing out the “a” and lingering just a moment on the “m.” “Just listen to it! It’s the space of the future! What can’t you do in a convadium? It’s even better than in elementary school, when they stuck a stage at one end of the dining hall and called it an ‘auditeria.’”
He grinned and took a long sip of his Chargermain, a pale yellow concoction made, improbably enough, from St. Germain elderflower liqueur and blanco tequila. The things they sell in sports bars these days...
“People do love a portmanteau,” I replied, noticing that my other drinking companion for the evening, a Mr. Stone Savage, was tensing about the neck and shoulders. You see, Savage is a Chargers fan, God bless him, and the Stadium Saga has caused him no small amount of distress. After a while, it’s tough to love someone who keeps asking other people what they’d give her if she moved in. And then has to be paid off by a rich uncle just to stay put ($300 million from the NFL!). I sensed that Throckmorton’s glee over the situation was putting Savage in something of a state, so I sought to distract him with a bit of wordplay. (And with any luck, old Pemby would think I was placating him.)
“Why don’t we rattle off a few verbal mashups of our own? We could do a glossary of Chargerspeak, help out all those poor souls who find themselves at a loss for words in the face of Spanosian mendacity. First one to get stumped buys the next round.”
It was a long and liquid evening. Here’s what I wrote down before I ran out of bar napkins.
The Chargers hope to score a billion-dollar windfall from a ballot measure that would increase San Diego’s hotel-room tax from 10.5 percent to 16.5 percent. All they need is to hit that magic number! (In this case, 66 percent of voters.)
A bizarre fetish in which a city willingly shackles its economy and prosperity in the form of public bonds in the hopes of obtaining the sick thrill that comes from being used and abused by a private enterprise that employs violent, muscular men in tight-fitting, brightly colored uniforms.
Dance routine performed by the Charger Girls in which they spread their legs, twerk, bend at the waist, and place their hands on the ground.
A somewhat distant relative of perjury (distant because not legally actionable) referring to the Chargers’ habitual distortion, suppression, obfuscation, and occasional violation of the truth regarding their intentions and strategy during the seemingly endless Stadium Saga.
"Quarterback" mashed into the turf with “cluster—.” Group name given to the collection of old-timers, half-pints, journeymen, greenhorns, middlers, draft busts, and also-rans who served as the Chargers’ quarterback between Dan Fouts and Philip Rivers.
Refers to Philip Rivers’s tendency to get riled up on the heady moonshine of competition, then throw gruesomely ill-judged passes resulting in interceptions. In a despair-inducing irony, yeehawceptions usually happen inside the opponent’s ten-yard line and often soon after Rivers has completed two, three, or four brilliant passes (see tight end-times) to keep a drive alive.
To create a confabulation — defined as a the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive — in the manner of Chargers counsel Mark Fabiani
- Opinions differ about that last clause, the one having to do with intention.
A mythical element, similar to the film Avatar’s Unobtanium, that magically transforms a corporate boondoggle into a desirable civic asset. Supposedly found chiefly along the waterfront of downtown San Diego, though it usually requires an extensive search in other locations before it can be detected. Also refers to the San Diego Chargers’ preferred plan for a new stadium/convention center.
Despite the diehard Charger fan’s storied Oaklanimosity (see below), his proper adversary over the past 12 years has been the Denver Broncos. In particular: since 2004, either the Chargers or the Broncos have won the AFC West Divisional Championship every year except for 2010. In 2007, Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler caused Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to forsake his normally sportsmanlike demeanor and issue a taunting wave. In 2008, the Chargers lost a September matchup with the Broncos after Jay Cutler’s fourth-quarter fumble was ruled an incomplete pass, bringing the team’s final drive back from the dead (see also referrection). That same year, the Chargers thumped the Broncos in the season’s final game to claim the divisional title and complete the Broncos’ historic late-season collapse. And in 2012, Peyton Manning led the Broncos to an astonishing comeback victory after trailing 24-0 at halftime (see also momentumble/winterception).
The rare portmanteau that is already an extant word. Its general meaning as a verb is “to leave out of consideration.” In Chargerspeak, it refers to a top prospect’s refusal to consider playing for San Diego. Coined after Eli Manning’s threat that he would sit out the season if the Chargers drafted him in 2004.
Term describing the lack of energy and drive that plagued the Chargers during the first games of their seasons under head coach Norv Turner. Even the 13-3 2009 season started 2-3.
The practice employed by professional sports teams of threatening to leave town unless they are paid off.
Fantasy: Diehard Charger Fan Walter Mencken looks into the bright future and spells out what he sees: “San Diego Chargers: Super Bowl Champions!” His beloved can only look on in wonder.
Another portmanteau that is already a word. General meaning: “the activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable.” In Chargerspeak, it refers to the almost limitless ability of Chargers fans to deny reality in order to maintain their positive feelings toward the team. Particular fantasies may involve the players’ loyalty to the team or the city as opposed to their contracts, the Spanos family’s loyalty to the fans or the city as opposed to their bottom line, the team’s likelihood of winning the Super Bowl in a given season, or the fan’s actual connection to the team in any sense beyond the purely financial. Fantasies are indicated through tell-tale terms such as “My man Antonio Gates,” “We won!” and “Our team.”
A rare portmanteau, in that it is made from two proper names, “Foley,” and “Leaf.” It refers to the seemingly mystical bad luck that seems to plague even the most on-paper-excellent Chargers outfit. “Foley” refers to Steve Foley, a quality linebacker who was shot in the knee outside his home by an off-duty police officer after the officer observed him driving erratically. “Leaf” refers to superstar college quarterback Ryan Leaf (see Ryanticipation). The term is used by Chargers coaches and staff to punctuate a resigned shrug whenever bad luck strikes like lightning out of the clear powder-blue sky.
Any method of suicide in which the brain is left intact so that it may be studied by medical researchers interested in the effects of regularly repeated blows to the head over the course of a career in professional football. More generally, a death that is somehow both tragic and noble.
Goodeloquence: Mencken marvels as the NFL Commish explains how concussions are “a good way to clear out the cobwebs when you’re fatigued toward the end of a game,” how the NFL “loves San Diego too much to take away its precious Chargers,” and how water isn’t really as wet as all that.
Refers to the astonishing rhetorical power of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to convince listeners without the offering of evidence or argument. Usually, the term is applied to his statements regarding the league’s concern over and engagement with the issue of player concussions (and other injuries). It was on full display last April when he came to town and declared “The Chargers do belong in San Diego,” reigniting fervent local support for a franchise so bent on leaving town that it publicly declared its intentions to do so and sought to trademark the term “Los Angeles Chargers.” Goodell’s claim was recently ranked just behind “Let there be light” and “But this is not that day!” on an internet clickbait list of “25 powerful statements that will have you cheering in your cubicle.”
Resentment of Chargers gadfly Bruce Henderson, especially when it turns out he’s right about something. Like, say, the City getting shafted in the 1995 stadium agreement on everything from ticket guarantees to team-shopping rights.
The original term “high voltage” usually means electrical energy at voltages high enough to inflict harm on living organisms. The portmanteau refers to Chargers fandom at levels high enough to inflict harm on civic infrastructure, government budgets, and common sense. (See also Slackout, which refers to television blackouts of Chargers home games as a result of insufficient citywide interest to sell out stadium seating.)
A logical fallacy that supposes that just because a thing (like, say, sustained team excellence) happened in the past, it will likely happen again. Named for Chargers coach Dan Coryell, who revolutionized the passing game in the late ’70s and early ’80s and turned the Chargers into a regular contender.
A combination hotel and bank teller, which is how the Chargers hope to treat San Diego’s hotels — through a significant hotel tax increase levied in order to finance their convadium.
The casual defeat of the Chargers’ grand plan to move to L.A. by a far more wealthy and powerful owner, the Rams’ Stan Kroenke.
Awash in Los Angelust, Lady Charger Girl gazes northward toward her desired home. Meanwhile, Kevin Faulconer lays on the mayornnaise, promising move heaven and earth and lots of public funds if only she’ll stay with him in San Diego. But a furious Mencken waves a pile of hoteller receipts and demands that Faulconer resist such a blatant act of exsportion.
The desire felt by Chargers management to relocate to a larger market in the hopes that the team will perform better if they know people are watching. (Said superior performance is sometimes referred to as a Los Angerection, but reports suggest that Chargers management prefers to use this term in reference to the actual building of a stadium in Carson, California.) Or at least, that a larger population will mean more people who are willing to pay top dollar to watch their team, win or (more likely) lose. Or at the very least, that more local households will mean fatter television revenues. Closely related to Less Angeles (or Los Angeless), the general feeling of inferiority most San Diegans already feel toward their neighbor to the north, and also Los Angeloss, the existential emptiness experienced when a talented San Diegan heads north to follow the money. See also, Gregory Peck, Dennis Hopper, Tom Waits, et alia.
Maddening: …ah, that’s it!
Still another extant-word portmanteau. In its original adjectival form, it refers to something’s ability to inspire rage. The Chargerspeak form, while closely related, is a verb that refers to Raiders coach John Madden’s shambling stroll across the playing field like some kind of smug sasquatch immediately following the Immaculate Deception (see Oaklanimosity). The lumbering coach took the improbable turn of events in stride, congratulating his passing players as if they had won fair and square, a move that inspired even more frustrated rage than Charger fans were already feeling. (Today, Maddening’s chief practitioner is thought to be the Patriots’ Bill Belichick.)
The condimention of having a mayor who lacks the spice and heat required to tell a professional sports franchise where they can stick their garbage negotiating tactics, let alone their whiny grubbing in the first place for public funds to benefit their private enterprise.
The tendency of the Chargers to take the wind out of their own sails through fumbles and interceptions, often late in the season. Possibly the most famous example comes from quarterback Philip Rivers’s three interceptions and two fumbles in the second half of the Broncos’ huge 35-24 comeback victory in October of 2012.
Oaklanimosity: After recovering from the shock and disbelief that followed the Immaculate Deception, a bemused Mencken tries to place where he’s seen Raiders coach John Madden’s shambling gait before...
A Charger fan’s enduring hatred for the Oakland Raiders, stemming largely from the September 1978 game that featured the play known as either “The Holy Roller” or “The Immaculate Deception,” depending on which side you’re on. Trailing 20-14 with ten seconds on the clock, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler found himself under pressure and fumbled forward. Raiders running back Dan Banaszak joined in the fun, heaving the ball downfield toward the end zone, where Raiders tight end Dave Casper kicked and batted it over the goal line before falling on the ball. In a classic example of referrection, the referee ruled the play a touchdown, and the Raiders went on to win 21-20 after kicking the extra point. (Raiders announcer Bill King acknowledged the religious, logic-defying character of the event in his call of the play: “There’s nothing real in the world anymore…. The Chargers are standing, looking at each other. They don’t believe it. Nobody believes it. I don’t know if the Raiders believe it. A man would be a fool to try to write a drama and make you believe it.”) See also Maddening.
The deep and abiding envy felt by Chargers officials toward San Diego’s other major sports franchise, the one that went to the World Series at just the right moment to secure public funding for a lovely, state-of-the-art downtown stadium before sliding into a comfortable low-budget lousiness. Closely related to Petcoveting and frequently producing the pained facial expression known as a Gywnnce.
Political portmanteau that refers to the Claymore landmine to indicate the explosive potential of interfering with the playing of professional sports.
Refers to the Chargers’ postseason performance, “offal” being the crap-filled intestines that are cast aside when an animal is butchered.
The Chargers’ practice of wildly praising All-Pro quarterback Philip Rivers but never giving him a proper offensive line, running game, or receiving corps.
Experts disagree over the primary meaning here. Could refer to the crappy feeling that comes from the fact that the Chargers have not been to the Super Bowl since the stadium’s renaming in 1997. Or the crappy feeling that comes from the fact that the $80 million renovation that Qualcomm helped complete in an effort to make the stadium more attractive as a Super Bowl venue garnered exactly one of them, in 1998 (see also Qualcon). Or the crappy feeling that comes from the fact that the stadium is now regarded as a bad joke by NFL officials, who have allegedly suggested a naming-rights deal that would christen it the Kohler Toilet Bowl. Or the crappy feeling that comes from the fact that, since the year 2000, the Giants, Jets, Cowboys, Broncos, Texans, Eagles, Seahawks, Patriots, Steelers, 49ers, Colts, Bengals, Lions, Vikings, and Cardinals have all gotten new stadiums (to say nothing of the Browns, Bucs, Jaguars, Titans, Ravens, Falcons, Panthers, or Redskins, all of whom got new stadiums in the ’90s), and San Diego is stuck with this 1960s relic that is best known for hosting the Super Bowl and the World Series in the same year. Go ahead, tell yourself that midcentury retro is cool again; let us know how that works for you.
The Chargers’ successful ploy to get the City of San Diego to pony up $68 million in 1997 in an effort to renovate the stadium into a proper Super Bowl venue. The money the City borrowed won’t be paid off for another decade, whether or not a new stadium is built, and never produced anything like the additional revenue that was forecast.
Double portmanteau formed from “Raiders” and “Haterade,” which is itself formed from “hate” and the sports beverage “Gatorade.” Haterade is an energizing beverage that allows haters to function at their highest potential, much as Gatorade allows basketball-playing children to Be Like Mike. The particular variant Raiderade is an alcoholic beverage, usually consumed throughout a given game day against Oakland, which prepares a Chargers fan for an abusive, pointless, and hopefully violent confrontation with the enemy in the parking lot after the game. Traditionally drunk after raising one’s beer cozy and shouting, “Raiders suck!”
Spending mind-boggling sums of cash on the re-creation of one’s kitchen and living room in the parking lot outside the stadium on game day. Begins with shade tents, tables, coolers, and fancy portable grills, and progresses on to satellite TV, recliners, refrigerators, and margarita machines. Sometimes topped off by an RV for the sake of boozy napping before kickoff.
Ryanticipation: Mencken runs an appreciative hand over the Jersey of a future Hall of Famer and Super Bowl Champion. But what’s a policeman doing on stage at the NFL Draft? Could it be an omen of trouble ahead?
Excitement experienced by Charger fans after the team’s acquisition of a top prospect named Ryan. Consistently followed by Ryanguish when the Ryan in question doesn’t live up to expectations. Fans are divided about who ranks at the top of this list, quarterback Ryan Leaf or running back Ryan Matthews.
Leaf was the Chargers’ first-round draft pick in the 1998 draft and the second pick overall after Peyton Manning. Some scouts thought he had even greater potential than Manning, and he was paid the highest rookie signing bonus in NFL history. But trouble began almost immediately: weight gain, skipped meetings, frequent interceptions, frequent injuries, and generally poor performance marred his career as a Charger from the outset. Conflicts with team management, fellow players, and even the press followed soon after. By the time he was released in 2001, he had managed only four wins as the team’s starting quarterback.
Ryanguish: A disgusted Mencken points Leaf in the direction of Anywhere But Here, and wishes he’d paid more attention to that prophetic policeman.
Matthews’s fall was not as dramatic but was more prolonged and involved a more exquisitely dizzying roller coaster with regard to performance. The first-round pick of the 2010 draft started slowly (Ryanguish), but improved in his second season and was picked as an alternate for Ray Rice in the Pro Bowl (Ryanticipation). Then he broke both clavicles at different points in his third season and averaged a full yard less per carry than the year before (Ryanguish). And then, he had his best year ever in 2013 (Ryanticipation) before being hobbled by an ankle injury in the playoffs (Ryanguish). His career as a Charger ended after one more injury-plagued season that saw him play in just six games (Ryanguish). Add to that the fact that Matthews grew up a Chargers fan and idolized Chargers great LaDanian Tomlinson, and you have a strong contender for the Ryanticipation crown.
Austerity measures enacted by the Spanos family to ensure that the city government will bail them out with public funds. Sample reasoning: “It’s not like we’re Kroenkes. We can’t afford to move, and we can’t afford to improve our squalid conditions here. You’ll have to help us out.”
The instant increase in prosperity the Spanos family will enjoy if they bamboozle the taxpayers into funding a new stadium. Recall that the Padres franchise doubled in value the second the City of San Diego signed on the dotted line for the Petco Park.
Income the Chargers cheerfully promise will be generated for the City of San Diego as a result of hosting the Chargers/improving Qualcomm Stadium/building a new stadium which somehow always seems to result in an expense. See also: the $12 million the city paid to operate the stadium in 2014, thanks in part to mayornnaise.
Stadiumbrage: Mencken carefully rephrases his query as to exactly how venal, slimy, cynical, and just generally awful a person has to be in order to cheerfully ask a city to take him back (and pay for the privilege) after he’s made every effort to leave town and take his team with him.
Offense and outrage on the part San Diegans in light of the Chargers’ naked greed and shady dealings during the seemingly endless Stadium Saga.
The tendency of seemingly perfect physical specimens to bend and break in baffling ways once they reach the temperate climes of sunny San Diego. You’d think the cold in places like Green Bay would make these giants brittle, but it seems to be the other way ’round. Prevalent throughout the ranks, but especially in the Offenseive Line (so named for its tendency to let opposing defenses through with minimal resistance). Related to Sunble, the tendency to drop the ball when it is neither cold nor wet outside.
The practice of profiting off of a player’s popularity and performance by selling merchandise associated with him to his fans.
The terrifying and uncertain era surrounding the final years of superstar tight end Antonio Gates’s career. Everyone knows that the end is nigh, but no once can say exactly when it will come. Prophecy is rampant, and while some will lose faith and despair, True Boltievers will keep the faith.