San Diego Chargers
September 29, 2002
"4th Annual Pats List Jammi"
With Thanks to my honey, who agreed to make the trek with me to San Diego with a bunch of strangers, we departed for the Internet List's 4th Annual Jammi. (The jinx name has since been retired however, never to be uttered by Pats Fans again!) I'd been conversing with the list-folk for a few years, but my shy guy knew no one except Zip and Monty, so it was a stretch for him (and evidence of just how much he loves me!)
The adventure began as we left Providence to head west. We were amazed at how many Patriots fans were on the plane and in the airport even when we reached Phoenix. Patriot Nation was descending upon San Diego ready to watch our Champions move to 4-0! I must say, the cross country flight was the longest that I have ever been on, but equipped with my tunes and reading material, I was good to go. Al, having had only a few hours sleep, was true to form, and crashed most of the way there. We had made arrangements with a former classmate and Al's best friend in high school, Ernie, to pick us up at the airport.
He arrived right on time but we weren't prepared for our transportation! Ernie picked us up in "The Bus" and Al and I looked at one another and thought... omg... I hope this isn't a prediction of what's to come! "The Bus" is a 1970's Volkswagon Van with minimal seats, hanging interior roof, and a 30 year old paint job! (Thankfully, it was only used for Ernie's job and he drives a decent vehicle in real life!) It did get us to our destination however, and served as quite the conversation piece..... even for the valet attendants at our hotel. Thankfully, Ernie was kidding with them when he asked them to park it, and they shared a few humorous words in Spanish. I couldn't wait for that thing to pull away, and prayed that nobody saw us getting out of it!!
As we were checking in, I noticed a Romeo look-a-like standing across the lobby and called out "Cecil?" He, in turn, called "Mrs. B.?" and like a scene from the movie Ten, we moved towards each other and embraced. Our rooms weren't ready yet, so we all hung around for awhile in the lobby and soon were greeted by George, Zip, his friends Naomi and Brent, and later Monty and his girlfriend Jill. We met Willie McGinest's folks and spoke to them a bit.... very nice people! Famished, we hit the lounge for a few brews and some wings.
As the afternoon wore on, Pats fans began to crowd the lobby and the staff put up ropes indicating that the team was on its way. I hung off to the side, not wanting to squeeze in with the mob, keeping my eyes peeled for Tedy. As of the time we departed, we weren't sure if my man was making the trek, since he sat out the KC game and was questionable for Sunday. Man.... was I relieved when I spotted him walking through that lobby. The guys unloaded upstairs, and within no time, many were out the door. Al and I grabbed dinner in the hotel restaurant then hung around drinking Sams for the evening. Lonie Paxton had a whole crew present, so he hung in the lobby most of the weekend with family. We met his parents and talked to them a quite a bit.
More list-folk arrived and I met up with Jacob (whom I accosted with a big hug...), Darren and family, Phil, Steve, Bama, Bob George, Bill, and Ed (Erdoboy), all the way from Japan. We shared fine Pats talk and a few cocktails. Getting close to curfew, the boys began to wander in. Sleuth had his eyes peeled and spotted Tedy coming up the drive... but he noticed Al the minute he came into the lobby and called out "Cardooooozzzzzaaaaaa?" Of course I had to score a hug after traveling 3000 miles, wished him well, asked how he was feeling, took a group picture in the lobby, and then he was gone in a flash! Zip was pleased with his encounter with Dante Scarnecchia which Big Al captured on film. We spent awhile hanging out, then made our way upstairs after being up for 22 hours straight.
The next morning at 4:00AM, Al and I were both wide awake thanks to the time change. By 6:00 we hit the gym where we were accompanied by trainers and coaches but no players. We had a nice breakfast and spoke to Ernie who had secured a beach house for another classmate, Al, who lives in Las Vegas but had come down to San Diego for the game. They extended an open invitation for our List Crew and many accepted. Armed with Brew, we hit the beach! I played catch with Zip and Monty..... man, does Zip have an arm!! I impressed him as well with my catching ability, ala my favorite offensive player Mr. "you know" David Patten! (Even perfected a new play... the "Double Pontoon Ricochet"!)
A great time was had by all, and the sharing of "war stories" insured that the reunited classmates Al, Karen, Ernie, and Alan got their share of laughs for the day. Former Marine, Ernie, had everyone in stitches and made a lasting impression for sure! Of course, George got his impressions too, (on Kodak film that is....), as he snapped pics of every hot chick who jogged, skated, rode, or strolled past the waterfront house. Some even had some choice "hand signals" for him too! The list crew was grateful for the generous invite and Al and I were happy to see two of our worlds gel so nicely.
We arrived back at the hotel around the time the boys returned from practice so we had to wait to gain entrance to the hotel. We got some nice shots so that worked out fine for us...
Many folks went down to the Gaslamp District on Saturday night, but Al and I chose the hotel restaurant and hung out with those that stayed behind. I rode the elevator with Tom Brady but didn't acknowledge him as he was using the "talking on the cell phone" trick to send the signal that he didn't want to be bothered. Ed debated accepting an invite to a Buffet Concert with Zip and his crew, but opted instead to stay behind in an attempt to catch Ted Johnson. (I'm happy to report that he made a very good choice... but I promised not to steal his thunder so check out his site, Erdoboy.com and I'll let him tell you about it!)
Those that stayed behind shared Pats talk, lots of laughs and.... there seemed to be an awful lot of huggin goin on!
Al and I worked out the next morning, drank gallons of coffee in the lobby and got psyched up for game day!! We spent a couple hours talking to Larry Izzo's mom and aunt while waiting for the team to depart and by the end were sharing family photos and anecdotes. Since the team flies directly from the game, they head to the game in travel attire. Some guys go casual while others don suits. Mike Vrabel is a suit kinda guy, while Lawyer in sandals and short opts for comfort big time!
Our group filled two busses and we headed out for the stadium with coolers stocked and hopes high. Our team was at the top of their game, having defeated the Steelers, Jets, and Kansas City... surely the "Jammi Jinx" would be broken on this fine day!! Adding to the Mojo was the fact that the parking areas boasted more Patriot Tailgates than Chargers... they just don't know how to do it in style!! Our beach crew happened to be parked right near us (thanks to the good memory of Al's wife Debbie) and they joined us getting "fired-up" for the tilt. Cam Cleeland's parents hitched a ride and joined the tailgate as well.... Surely, the stars were aligning and we were about to enjoy another Patriots victory!
We had great seats and enjoyed a fine view.....and were fired up and prepared for the Victory! The Chargers had other plans however, and dealt us our first loss in almost a year! We were shell-shocked as were the players... I'm sure it was a long flight home for them.
We talked about the game and our team through dinner and beyond. It was a mellow evening and definitely not the outcome that we anticipated. Nonetheless, our List Group determined the trip to be an overwhelming success! I personally had a stellar time and loved meeting the folks that enter my world via e-mail on a daily basis. Al echoed my sentiments and declared the List Group J%@*&# to be an annual trek for the Cardozas!