Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon created a few headlines on Thursday when he said the Bolts are the team to beat. He’s right to think that way.
Most people who paid attention to Melvin Gordon’s interview with Wendi Nix of ESPN on Thursday are focused on whether or not the Los Angeles Chargers running back is factually correct. Change that. The focus is on whether he will be correct.
On Thursday, Gordon told Nix that the Chargers “are the team to beat” in 2019. He didn’t necessarily say the Super Bowl, the AFC, or even the AFC West. It was a general notion about winning, a young man who believes that the Chargers can and will be the one standing tall in the end after sending everyone else home.
The Chargers are special. They have a future Hall of Famer at quarterback (don’t offer an argument, because you’ll look foolish doing so). They have good to great skill position players. They’ve got one of the league’s best safety tandems as well as a fearsome pass rush. Their coaching staff is solid and they’ve got plenty of depth. If not for the presence of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chargers would be the talk of the West—and they even finally defeated K.C. last year during the regular season to give their confidence even more juice.
But most people who heard or read these quotes will be focused on that whole factual thing. Chargers supporters will undoubtedly rally behind them and retweet it with a quick “hell, yeah!” Everyone else will point, laugh, and say something like “always a bridesmaid.” It makes sense. It’s been nine seasons since the Chargers have been the best within their own division, let alone capable of going much farther in this Patriot-dominated era.
Internet comments and social media posts came flying fairly quickly after the quote dropped. They brought up the factual information, of course, to prove that Gordon is working with a false premise, and recalled previous offseason quotes that proclaimed the supremacy of the Chargers. The goal was to prove Gordon wrong, I suppose, which seems like a really important use of time and energy in early June.
Here’s the thing. Lost in Gordon’s longer quote was the final line that no one even acknowledged: “You just have to walk around with that confidence.” Gordon is just pointing out what’s true of any player—whether he’s on the Chargers or the Cardinals. Namely, every player must have that level of belief in himself and the team. If Gordon didn’t believe, he wouldn’t belong.
It’s not just Patrick Mahomes who has to believe that he’s the best; Kyle Shurmur also has to believe that he’s the best. Shurmur, an undrafted free agent quarterback in camp from Vanderbilt, has to go in every day to Arrowhead with the thought that he could be the starter for the Chiefs, even over Mahomes, if the coaches could just see what he’s capable of, if he’s just given the chance. Then it’s his job to prepare for that sort of moment.
Gordon didn’t flip off the Chiefs, nor did he forget the last nine years of Chargers history. He’s a player saying and doing what every player should be doing and saying this time of year—believing in the hope a blank slate can bring. He’s confident. He should be. So should every single player aiming for a job in the National Football League.