Most of us have been there, hitting the front door when the kids have already hit the sack.
Instead of being greeted by a child, a late night at work, a flight delay or a young ‘un just too tuckered out can’t wait up for Dad.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy can relate, and he does so with a sigh of relief after pulling into the garage on Sunday night.
“He was asleep when I got home,’’ McCoy said.
McCoy’s youngest son loves football as much as the old man — and that’s saying something. But with that passion comes the persistent second-guessing, and to me, it sounds as if Junior has a future in the media.
But the head-scratchin’ goings on at the McCoy’s Carmel Valley home is no different than what swept across the NFL landscape. A season that continues Sunday against the visiting Broncos only does so after the team was bucked in Washington, D.C.
A loss is a loss, but some sting longer. Especially when the short story is the Chargers couldn’t go a yard in the closing seconds of regulation in a 30-24 overtime defeat.
The play-calling from McCoy was, at the least, how CBS analyst and Chargers great Dan Fouts described as “curious.’’
Instead of pounding the ball that longest yard, McCoy got cute and finished with an ugly blemish on his rookie resume.
“Every loss (stinks) if you ask me,’’ McCoy said. “It doesn’t matter what time of the season it is or if it is a preseason game. This game is all about winning, week in and week out, and that’s what we’re in this business for: to win the game.’’
Do that, and you don’t have to fret about winning the dinner-table conversation.
“I’m sure I will hear it the next couple of days,’’ McCoy said.
But hear ye, hear ye for this NFL mantra: Never let the same team beat you twice. The D.C. debacle might rank with the healthcare.gov rollout, but the Chargers will get rolled again if still singing the Beltway Blues.
They might take a haymaker anyway, with the Broncos’ Peyton Manning playing at a level, which is at least a mile high. Denver (7-1) is chasing the Chiefs (8-0) while the Chargers (4-4) can’t let either escape their vision.
How the AFC West was won will be determined starting Sunday.
This time last year, McCoy was calling plays for Manning. This Sunday, maybe McCoy can finally quit getting hammered about last week’s baffling calls.
“I think in having known Peyton Manning, and the way he plays, he is very efficient,’’ McCoy said. “They got a good football team and with his 29 touchdown passes and what he is doing, it doesn’t surprise me a bit.’’
The road forward is rugged for the Chargers, with trips to Miami and Kansas City following the Broncos’ visit. The soft side of the schedule has passed, with the Chargers sliding up to the big-boy table, and let’s hope they don’t spill their milk.
What would go down easy after Sunday’s heartburn and heartache is the Bolts climbing off the mat and winning. That would make a wounded Chargers Nation happy and a certain kid whose father is an NFL head coach giddy.
For a week, at least, he’d be off Dad’s back because it’s likely he’s never watched “Father Knows Best.”
“I’m glad he is concerned and glad he has some good advice,’’ McCoy said. “As long as he doesn’t start drawing up plays and yelling or booing me on the sidelines, that’s OK.’’
Drawing up plays? Hey kid, what do you got for first down on the 1-yard line?
Jay Paris can be heard talking Chargers football on 1090 a.m. on Monday and Friday mornings. He’s also the Wednesday morning co-host of “Hacksaw and Company.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports