Spanos awaits on-field Chargers turnaround

September 6, 2016 GMT

It is nothing new.

The program, in its 17th year, has seen the Chargers allocate funds to now 127 local schools. The campuses span across San Diego, from a $65,000 weight room at Granite Hills High in El Cajon to $63,000 for a weight room and football equipment at Sweetwater High in National City.

“It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” Dean Spanos said of the team’s grant program.

He hopes its season can be.

The Chargers chairman of the board is scheduled to appear Tuesday at a local high school. There, he will present a $75,000 commitment for a new campus weight room. That school and nine others will be announced as sharing $250,000 in grant investment from the franchise this year.

Spanos acknowledges it.

The coming months are critical at Chargers Park.

He was in a mood Monday to mainly discuss Chargers Champions, which has contributed more than $5.2 million toward youth athletic amenities since its inception. That phrase, however, linking Chargers and champions has not been connectable on the field for too long.

San Diego has one playoff berth the past six years.

It hasn’t won the AFC West since 2009.

“This is an important season for us for a lot of reasons,” Spanos said. “I don’t want to put all the focus on the vote on Nov. 8, but even if you didn’t have a (stadium) vote on Nov. 8, it’s still an important season. We were 4-12 last season. That’s unacceptable. Everyone knows it. We made some significant changes, coaching obviously and some significant player changes, too.

“This is a totally different roster than it was three years ago. There is a lot of pressure on everybody here. We have got to turn this thing around, and it’s not going to be easy. … I just focus on our division. We didn’t do very good in our division at all. And the year before. The last couple years have not been acceptable by any means. Everybody feels the pressure to win, myself to all the way down.”

The Chargers will open their regular season Sunday in Kansas City.

It makes a fitting first test.

The Chiefs outscored them 43-6 in 2015, one chapter to a lackluster trend in the division. San Diego lost all six AFC West games last year, extending a skid of now eight straight divisional losses.

Toss in an attempted franchise relocation in January and continued stadium uncertainty, and sure, if anyone has sensed a unusual lack of buzz around San Diego surrounding the upcoming season, it’s probably not being imagined.

“I understand why people are skeptical,” Spanos said. “Until you prove yourself, you haven’t really done anything. You’ve got to do something. The focus is we’ve got to come out and get back to the playoffs.”

The Chargers can be proud of their off-the-field champion profile.

With a win Sunday, their other one can begin to follow suit.