For this city long starved of sports glory, making it to the Super Bowl was almost enough.
Almost. The San Francisco 49ers crushed San Diego 49-26 on Sunday, but fans still spoke warmly of their Chargers, a team that gave them two weeks of a frenzied joy never seen before in this city.
“I’m still 100 percent behind them,” said Anita Sloan, 30, a nurse decked out in blue and gold sweatpants and a Chargers cap. But she was leaving after the third quarter from the stadium where she had watched the game on television.
So was Jeff Janowiak, 30, who shook his head sadly and said, “It’s over.”
But, he insisted: “I’m proud of them. It hurts a little bit, but they’re still our team.”
Other fans were defensive - almost protective - of a team that most sports followers never gave a chance of winning the Big Game.
“Who’s in the Super Bowl? Pittsburgh’s not in the Super Bowl. Miami’s not in the Super Bowl,” said Margaret Valleroy, a boisterous, 59-year-old church secretary. “We’re in the Super Bowl because we’re better than them.
“Nobody gives us our due. They think we shouldn’t even be here. But we beat everybody else.”
Hopes were high when the game began. About 15,000 fans came to Jack Murphy Stadium to watch the game televised on a big screen.
Hopes remained high even after the 49ers came out and scored two amazingly quick TDs as the stunned San Diego players looked on.
Brady Follon, 23, a Navy man, said he wasn’t worried when the 49ers jumped ahead 7-0. But minutes later, when it became 14-0, he backed down. “I might be wrong,” he said.
Hope was rekindled again after the Chargers scored their first TD after a grinding, on-the-ground drive.
But as the 49ers continued scoring touchdown after touchdown, the grim reality slowly sank in.
In the end, there was little to grasp at but the fact that the city had come together for the team.”Have you ever heard of another city doing this for their football team?” asked Tom Dixon, 50, slouching in his stadium seat. “It really shows that San Diego is for their Chargers.”
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