Quarterback Philip Rivers leads his Chargers into Kansas City this weekend, hopefully not by the hair on his chinny, chin, chin.
Don’t do it, Philip. Don’t repeat Sunday’s mistake of rockin’ a faint mustache and 5 o’clock shadow in that ugly loss to the Dolphins. It’s too painful to see, and not because despite your 10 years in the league, peach fuzz still rules your mug.
Mustaches are cool, and that comes from a one-time proud owner. But when I see a talented Charger under center with facial hair, I think Dan Fouts.
And please, Philip, don’t go that route.
Or better put, please, Chargers don’t waste another quarterback’s career.
Fouts’ beard was, and is, as legendary as his impressive passing numbers. The Pro Football Hall of Famer still wears one as a CBS analyst, as well as the scars of being a Charger.
Few could hang with Fouts, but whenever reflecting on his greatness comes the pain of the near misses: the 1980 and ‘81 AFC Championship Games; the ‘82 playoffs.
The Chargers stubbed their toe, regardless of Fouts’ presence.
His right arm alone couldn’t deliver — in ‘82 the Chargers paced the league in offense — and after ‘87, Fouts was gone.
It would be 1992 before the Chargers advanced to the playoffs again, and where is a coach with the experience, guile and motivational touch like Bobby Ross?
It’s clear rookie Chargers coach Mike McCoy might get there some day — he ain’t there yet.
Which circles us back to Rivers, and has he met up with the razor yet?
Like Fouts, Rivers is a San Diego gem. Like Fouts, Rivers gives the Chargers a chance to win on a weekly basis. Like Fouts, Rivers will never reach a Super Bowl — not in San Diego, anyway.
The Chargers were this close in 2007, competing for the AFC title on a dreadful day in New England.
The opposition was the Patriots, although Rivers was more apt to fill a musical minuteman marching line with his bandaged knee.
New England prevailed with the wind-chill sinking to 9 degrees. It was Rivers’ best chance to reach the game with Roman numerals, and my how far away that frostbitten folly now seems.
The Chargers were a tease a few more years, then fell into the abyss. This season, like the three before it, will be one minus the playoffs.
Despite Rivers’ considerable talents — and blemishes, too — he’s been derailed by an organization unable to provide Super Bowl-caliber complementary parts.
Rivers is playing at a high level, a standard among the best of his stellar career. But that prowess has little company, as the last-place Chargers are overmatched and under whelming on both sides of the ball.
The offense is limited, the defense is laughable and the coaching decisions are often litigious.
So when No. 17 sports his chin hair, our thoughts ricochet to No. 14.
Fouts, the bearded beast in Bolts, was one bad dude. But his resume is absent what meant to him most: a Super Bowl.
Rivers, 31, is caught in a tsunami of rebuilding, with the organization’s pupils trained on the horizon. The kids are getting experience, and just maybe, they’ll mature into a team, which is a legitimate contender for a February game.
But Rivers’ expiration date grows nearer with every snap.
It’s obvious he’ll not only share pages of the Chargers’ record book with Fouts, but the curse of playing for a franchise which disappointed him in a Super way.
When — and if — McCoy completes the team’s considerable makeover, he’ll likely have a fresh face at quarterback.
The Chargers take a three-game losing streak into Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
But our chief concern is Rivers comes out with a clean chin, and a clear conscious.
Jay Paris can be heard talking Chargers football on 1090 AM 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