Isn’t it funny how badly Dean Spanos suddenly wants to stay in San Diego after Carson bombed and he had to spend time talking to Kroenke the Donkey?

If you see the Chargers owner carousing around La Jolla this weekend, make sure you get us that picture with his tail between his legs.

At least Spanos can go outside again without being jeered after announcing on Friday that the team will remain in San Diego for the 2016 NFL season and make one more attempt at finding a stadium solution.

Of course he made that announcement about an hour after reaching an agreement in principle to share the proposed football stadium in Inglewood with the Los Angeles Rams.

Got to keep the leverage as high as possible you know.

Actions speak louder than carefully crafted press release statements – you did notice Dean didn’t face questions from probing reporters, right? So what happens over the next few months will speak volumes about Spanos’ intentions as the franchise has until Jan. 15, 2017 to decide whether to move to Los Angeles.

And Spanos’ actions over the final six months of 2015 – often carried out by spin doctor Mark Fabiani – spoke volumes about how badly he wanted his team in Los Angeles.

But Spanos wanted to be in Carson as part of a two-team stadium deal with the Oakland Raiders. Having to be a lesser tenant with the Rams in Inglewood – and irascible owner Stan Kroenke – wasn’t the intended destination.

Spanos reportedly felt confident the Carson project would prevail at the owners’ meeting in Houston earlier this month. He felt Kroenke the Donkey didn’t have enough votes to get Inglewood approved.

Spanos couldn’t have been more wrong as Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium project won by a resounding 30-2 vote.

Hey, a four-touchdown margin. Sounds like some recent Chargers’ scores.

Then Spanos pondered his choices and neither were all that good. He could move to Los Angeles and be second on the NFL ledger behind the Rams – and third overall behind USC – or make peace with San Diego officials and the team’s fans.

It didn’t help when Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti made it clear he wasn’t interested in the Chargers joining the Rams. Garcetti strongly suggested the Chargers should remain in San Diego.

Spanos probably wasn’t in all that big of a rush to write that $550 million relocation check either.

Anyway, San Diego city officials submitted a $1.1 billion stadium proposal to the NFL earlier this month so there certainly is an opportunity to get something done and keep the team in San Diego.

In fact, Spanos said in his Friday statement that his intention is to work toward remaining in San Diego for the long term and finding a stadium solution.

“I have met with Mayor (Kevin) Faulconer and (County) Supervisor (Ron) Roberts and I look forward to working closely with them and the business community to resolve our stadium dilemma,” Spanos said. “We have an option and an agreement with the Los Angeles Rams to go to Inglewood in the next year, but my focus is on San Diego.

“This has been (the team’s) home for 55 years, and I want to keep the team here and provide the world-class stadium experience you deserve.”

Spanos said he is moving forward “with a fresh perspective and new sense of possibility” and I’m sure the team’s fans are hoping that proves true.

Spanos and Fabiani treated the fan base like dirt this past season. But the thing about fans is this – they just want their team to stay put.

Fans live and die with how the team fares each Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday). They just don’t want to live with the pain of their beloved team playing 100-plus miles up the freeway.

Another good thing the fans have going for them is that commissioner Roger Goodell feels the same way. He wants the NFL to remain in San Diego.

“We are very supportive of the decision by Dean Spanos to continue his efforts in San Diego and work with local leaders to develop a permanent stadium solution,” Goodell said in a statement. “NFL ownership has committed $300 million to assist in the cost of building a new stadium in San Diego. I have pledged the league’s full support in helping Dean to fulfill his goal.”

Getting a deal done in San Diego would change Spanos’ reputation from most-hated person in San Diego to merely tolerable.

But know this: being the main tenant in a new stadium in San Diego is infinitely better than playing second fiddle to Kroenke the Donkey in Inglewood.

Hooray for Blake Griffin! He punched out an equipment man half his size.

But apparently the face of Matias Testi is pretty tough. Griffin broke his right hand and will be sidelined four to six weeks.

That’s a pretty dumb maneuver by Griffin, as the Los Angeles Clippers’ star has already been sidelined since Dec. 26 due to a quadriceps injury.

Now the big deal will be learning what led up to these punches at a Toronto restaurant. Testi is said to be a friend of Griffin and all I can say to that is this: Who needs a friend that is going to punch them in the face multiple times?

That’s no friend, folks. That’s a dude with anger management issues.

Doesn’t sound like the Clippers find this incident as simple fun between friends either.

“This conduct has no place in our organization and this incident does not represent who we are as a team,” the Clippers said in a statement. “We are conducting a full investigation with assistance from the NBA. At the conclusion of the investigation, appropriate action will be taken.”

Appropriate action will be taken?

In other words, Mr. Testi, you are no longer allowed to eat with the five-time NBA All-Star. The Clippers can’t afford to have Griffin break his other hand the next time he belts you.

Since details of the argument have yet to be leaked, here are three possible scenarios unearthed by the staff at MrSportsBlog.

VERSION ONE

Blake and Matias are sitting in a restaurant booth. Blake scans the eating area and sees a hockey game on the big screen.

BLAKE: These hockey nuts — love Canadiens.

MATIAS: Oh no, Blake. We’re in Toronto. They hate the Canadiens.

BLAKE: We’re in freaking Canada, Matias. These hockey nuts are Canadiens.

MATIAS: No, Blake. They are all about the Maple Leafs here.

Blake’s head begins to rise up and you can sense the steam pouring out of his ears as he cocks his fist and smacks Matias in the face.

A stunned Matias stumbles toward the door and yells “Maple Leafs” upon exiting. Blake rushes outside and delivers another ferocious punch. Seconds later, he notices his hand hurts.

VERSION TWO

Blake and Matias are sitting in a restaurant booth. Blake sees a big ‘O’ on a woman’s sweatshirt and this reminds him of his two seasons on the Oklahoma basketball team.

BLAKE: Oh, I miss my time at Oklahoma.

MATIAS: That football school you once went to?

BLAKE: It’s not a football school. We won 30 games my sophomore season.

MATIAS: And didn’t even reach the Final Four. LOL. C’mon Blake, everybody knows Oklahoma is a football school.

Blake cringes and his shoulders rise up and a very intense feeling comes over his body. “I’ll show you football school” yells Blake as he delivers a vicious punch to the face of Matias.

The equipment guy is momentarily stunned and heads outside. Blake arrives seconds later with another shot to the face. Seconds later, he notices his hand hurts.

VERSION THREE

Blake and Matias are sitting in a restaurant booth. Matias begins bragging about being a good free thrower and how he can make eight of 10 in his driveway. This irks Griffin, a career 66 percent free-throw shooter.

BLAKE: It is a little tougher during the game than shooting in your driveway.

MATIAS: Nobody is saying you shoot being able to shoot like Stephen Curry or J.J. Redick. But you’re closer to DeAndre Jordan range.

BLAKE: I’m significantly better than DeAndre. You don’t see teams going to the “Hack-A-Blake.”

MATIAS: Bragging about being better than DeAndre is like Derek Jeter bragging he’s classier than Donald Trump.

Blake pictures the time at practice when he missed four straight free throws and the entire team had to run. He recalled Matias grabbed a basketball and immediately swished seven in a row. And said ‘This is how it’s done, Blake.’

Blake snaps and throws a roundhouse right to Matias’ face and the equipment man tumbles out of the booth to the floor. He runs outside and Griffin is right behind him yelling “I’ll show you free throws” and delivers another punch in the face. Seconds later, he notices his hand hurts.

THE AFTERMATH

Matias wails in pain on the pavement and feels his jaw and nose to make sure they’re not broken. Meanwhile, Blake begins shrieking. His hand is in excruciating pain and it is starting to sink in that he is injured.

BLAKE: My hand is freaking on fire. Damn, it hurts!

MATIAS: You’ve got to call a doc.

BLAKE: I’m not going to call Doc. He’ll ask how I hurt it.

MATIAS: I said call a doc, not Doc Rivers.

BLAKE: Don’t make me punch you again. OK, I’ll call Doc.

Rivers answers the phone and Griffin lets him know he hurt his hand. And the obvious question soon follows.

DOC: How did you hurt the hand?

BLAKE: Helping Matias carrying all that heavy equipment.

A few hours pass and the truth leaks out. Blake and Matias are sent back to Los Angeles – hopefully on separate planes – and the Clippers can start preparing excuses for why the 2015-16 season will end in disappointing fashion.

Years from now, Rivers will bemoan how another opportunity to make the Clippers relevant slipped past. And he’ll sum it up with just one sentence.

“We were going pretty well until Blake Griffin punched an equipment man half his size.”

 

You mean to tell me we get to see Cam Newton versus Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl?

I’m all for that. Sign me up.

Newton is on the verge of wrestling top NFL quarterback honors away from Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, while the 39-year-old Manning will likely be playing the final game of his long stellar career when Super Bowl 50 kicks off in Santa Clara on Feb. 7.

The two quarterbacks are separated by 13 years in age and probably 20 miles an hour in speed. Newton’s Carolina Panthers have been the best in the team in the NFL for most of the season while Manning’s Denver Broncos feature the best defensive unit.

Kind of interesting that Manning is now in the complimentary role but it is amazing he is even on the field after all the experts – and perhaps some people in the Denver organization – wrote him off in December. Foot injuries can be painful, you know.

Newton is the heir apparent to the Manning-Brady era. When we get to the middle of next decade, these are the people who will be universally discussed as the top quarterbacks in the NFL:

Cam Newton, Derek Carr and Andrew Luck. (Just be sure to check on me in Jan. 2026, OK?)

Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston and somebody currently not in the league may also figure in the equation.

But nobody in the NFL has all the skills of Newton – a top-notch thrower and fierce-runner in a linebacker’s body.

He also has that supreme level of confidence – some say he’s cocky or arrogant but you have to understand that today’s athlete has a different mentality than your father’s generation. Or your own.

Newton has been a polarizing figure since he first dashed into the public eye.

There were questions regarding how he ended up at Auburn and he was heavily scrutinized over persistent allegations of illegal payments.

He sidestepped all the off-field fuss in 2010 and led the Tigers to the national championship. He also won the Heisman Trophy.

Then he was the top overall pick by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft and needed some time to grow. Not just as a quarterback but as a leader.

Newton was fortunate the Panthers hired Ron Rivera as head coach. I dealt with Rivera for two seasons when he was an assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers and he is one of true good people in the coaching profession.

Rivera was able to be patient with Newton’s development and also had the personality to deal with Newton’s theatrics. There are a lot of control-freak coaches who would have spent too much trying to rein in a guy that thrives on over-the-top enthusiasm because, you know, that’s not a how a franchise quarterback should behave.

Sunday’s postgame comments by Carolina veteran defensive end Jared Allen surely caught my eyes. Allen is in the twilight of his career and has witnessed the shift in mentality over the past 12 years.

“For so long, there’s been this cookie cutter type of what people expect franchise quarterbacks to be,” Allen said. “He wins football games and he does it in charismatic fashion. He elevates the play of his team, he’s a good leader.

“He just does everything you want a franchise quarterback to do. Maybe he just does it with a little different style.”

Needless to say, I fully agree with Allen’s opinion. Just vote NO on cookie cutters.

Newton has grown and should be on the verge of being named the NFL’s MVP. They let sports writers choose this award so I suppose there’s a chance he doesn’t win.

Arizona’s Carson Palmer has been mentioned as a possible MVP – the voting is already concluded – and he looked anything like a player of value in the NFC title game loss to the Panthers.

Palmer threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles as Arizona committed seven turnovers in an ugly performance. It is hard to believe the Cardinals will be able to get over the hump next season either with Palmer as their man.

The meeting between Newton and Palmer was the first in a conference title game between former Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks. And get this – Newton and Manning will be the first No. 1 overall picks to square off in the Super Bowl.

Manning may not have a lot left physically but he surely has enough in the tank for one more big game. I expect Super Bowl Sunday to be the last time we see Manning – and hear him shout “Omaha!”

You can view it as the end of an era with Manning’s career winding down and the beginning of Newton being fully entrenched as one of the NFL’s shining stars.

The Manning-Newton storyline is a great one for the lead-up to the Super Bowl.

Count me in as someone who can’t wait for it to unfold.

The national championship game was going so well on Monday night when Clemson was ahead but there was a reversal and it started to sink in midway through the fourth quarter.

Grumpy mean bully Nick Saban is going to win another national title.

One of the most miserable sports figures of our era has won four national crowns in nine seasons at Alabama after the Crimson Tide posted a 45-40 victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff title game.

Counting a national crown at LSU, Saban has won five national titles.

That is kind of remarkable.

The overall number of titles is also just one less than the total won by Alabama icon Bear Bryant – universally accepted as perhaps the best college football coach in the history of the world.

Just having your name written in the same sentence as Bryant when the subject is football is a real solid accomplishment.

But wait, let’s not celebrate somebody who is a total jerk. Let’s ignore that Saban is a pretty darn good coach.

Let’s feel sorry for the human beings that have to deal with him on a daily basis. You know, the little people who have to put up with that control freak.

I’ll always remember the story a member of the Miami Dolphins organization told me when I was in Miami covering a football game between the Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers.

Saban, you might recall, wasn’t so successful when he was head coach of professional football players. He lasted just two seasons in Miami – he went 6-10 in Year 2 – before finding his ticket out of town by accepting the Alabama gig.

But his bully tactics were in All-Pro form while working for the Dolphins.

As the story goes, Saban got a haircut one day and returned to the facility.

He crossed paths with a female employee of the Dolphins and she said “Nice haircut.”

Saban ignored her the same way he ignored most people in the organization. A few minutes later, the woman was called into a meeting.

She was dressed down and told to never, ever speak to Saban again.

There is something off-kilter about a person who can’t accept a “nice haircut” compliment from a fellow employee.

Anyway, you can only imagine what kind of asinine acts of dictatorship he has engaged in at Alabama.

His manipulation score has to have been perfected to a 10.0 with all the power he has at the school.

Oh yeah, he can coach a bit, can’t he?

Absolutely. Nick Saban is a terrific college coach. Great motivator. Smart tactician. Superb leader.

I hope Saban finishes his career at Alabama. There is no sense in him going somewhere in need of his skills – that’s you, Texas – at the age of 64.

Plus, Saban belongs at Alabama.

Do you remember the spring of 2011 when tornadoes ravaged Tuscaloosa, the city where Alabama is located?

Do you remember what person stood up in the middle of that storm and provided superb leadership in a huge time of need?

Well, it was one Nick Saban. I remember thinking at the time just how lucky those folks were to have Saban providing leadership during a major crisis.

Saban the jerk was Saban the savior.

While everybody was dealing with uncertainty and fear, Saban was stepping up to help the populace.

He donated money to help people. He gave his time and met with countless people. He helped the city and state rebuild out of the rubble.

Dang, this Nick Saban guy suddenly doesn’t sound so bad.

And on Monday he once again proved he’s an outstanding coach.

That part isn’t debatable.

The Spanos family plane sits on the runway in San Diego on Wednesday.

The Spanos family plane sits on the runway in San Diego on Wednesday. Photo credit – Secret airport source.

 

So for one last time the “San Diego Chargers” will take the field.

Probably never to be referred to in that way again on a football field.

Sunday’s road game against the Denver Broncos will likely mark a sad end for a franchise that was adored by San Diegans for most of the past five-plus decades. And the only reason why enthusiasm dimmed this season was due to the club’s actions.

The stage was set when owner Dean Spanos made it clear he wanted to move the team. Proposals by the city of San Diego were scoffed at by Spanos and team spin doctor Mark Fabiani.

Instead of looking at a way to make things happen, Spanos and Fabiani repeatedly pointed out why the city’s proposals for a new stadium wouldn’t work.

Regardless, the City of San Diego submitted its proposal to build a $1.1 billion stadium for the team to the NFL on Wednesday. It’s a last-ditch effort by the city to keep the team but Spanos isn’t listening.

He is ready to apply for relocation as soon as Monday and is hoping to gain approval to move the team on either Jan. 12 or 13 when the league’s owners meet in Houston.

All along, Spanos has been working his fellow owners behind the scenes in hopes of approval to move the franchise.

Spanos envisions playing at a stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. The greed of an NFL owner knows no limits and once the St. Louis Rams began looking at moving to Los Angeles, Spanos couldn’t help himself.

His greedy hands kept picturing the possibility of adding billions of dollars to his family’s net worth.

And now he is just a couple of weeks away from having his wish granted.

Once approval occurs, a team that began playing in San Diego in 1961 will flat-out vanish.

Too bad Spanos couldn’t just vanish and leave the team alone.

Good on-field play certainly disappeared this season as poor Philip Rivers has tried to carry a team with little talent. The squad carries a 4-11 record into the season finale as coach Mike McCoy continues to make poor decisions and display that he should be an offensive coordinator and not an NFL head coach.

The Chargers aren’t part of the playoff field for the fifth time in six seasons and this year’s record is the franchise’s worst since 2004.

Of course, winning has never been a Spanos specialty. The Chargers have made the playoffs only nine times in 32 seasons under the family’s ownership.

They were the owners for the team’s lone Super Bowl appearance when San Diego was smashed by the San Francisco 49ers following the 1994 season.

But coach Bobby Ross and general manager Bobby Beathard couldn’t get along and Spanos showed Ross the door after the 1996 season.

And they certainly were in position to reach the Super Bowl in the middle of last decade but again the lack of top-flight leadership by Spanos curtailed the possibility.

San Diego recorded a franchise-best 14-2 mark in 2006 but was ousted in the opening round of the playoffs by the New England Patriots. Once again, the coach and general manager didn’t know how to communicate and Spanos kept hard-nosed GM A.J. Smith and sent coach Marty Schottenheimer packing.

Spanos termed the situation as “dysfunctional” and apparently wasn’t smart enough to figure out his lack of a spine over the previous two seasons was a major factor. What leader would allow two of the most crucial people in the organization to go that long without talking?

Making the whole situation sadder is that the Chargers then hired Norv Turner as coach. Handing a team built to win a championship to a mediocre coach and leader assured the Chargers would miss their championship window – and they did.

Spanos will arrive in Los Angeles with a lousy football team and that isn’t going to help matters.

Know this: USC is the preferred football team in Los Angeles and there is no chance of the Chargers ever surpassing the Trojans when it comes to popularity.

Spanos also has to fire McCoy. You can’t arrive in Los Angeles with that kind of guy as your coach. He also needs a different public relations staff as having a staff in which the top two guys are lifetime wimposauras is going to be a detriment to doing PR properly in the multi-dimensional Los Angeles market.

Taking the history to Los Angeles will be awkward. You just can’t have Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts or LaDainian Tomlinson show up to wave to the crowd of a city that never watched them play.

Not to mention honoring the “Air Coryell” era or Junior Seau’s tremendous tenure or the franchise’s 1963 AFL title. Kellen Winslow’s performance in the epic playoff game in Miami on Jan. 2, 1982 certainly will never feel like a “Los Angeles” thing.

Added up, it’s just an all-around uncomfortable feel. A greedy owner didn’t get his way in San Diego so he is going to pick up his football team and move it 100-plus miles up the road.

The team will be missed for sure. The ownership won’t be.

And with his two overmatched sons lined up to run the team, the long-standing tradition of Spanos-led teams losing will surely continue.

Good luck, Los Angeles. And brace yourself for decades of buffoonery.

Less than one hour before kickoff and where are all the fans?

Less than one hour before kickoff and where are all the fans?

 

I was driving home from my work assignment on Tuesday night and suddenly it hit me:

It had been nine years since I last covered a college football bowl game.

Guess time really does fly because it doesn’t seem that long ago. But Akron’s 23-21 victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl really was my first bowl coverage since 2006.

The win in the Potato Bowl just happened to be Akron’s first-ever bowl victory. Here is my stellar game story – Akron 23, Utah State 21.

Before Tuesday, the last bowl games I covered were the 2006 Poinsettia Bowl (TCU 37, Northern Illinois 7) and 2006 Holiday Bowl (Cal 45, Texas A&M 10).

The total career coverage ledger breaks down this way: Eight Holiday Bowls, two Poinsettia Bowls and one Rose Bowl. And now one Potato Bowl.

Should’ve covered even more but San Diego State was allergic to bowl games during my eight seasons on the beat. Not a single winning record by the Aztecs.

Of course, I’ve covered three Super Bowls but we can’t lump that type of bowl in with the college bowls.

Who knows, maybe I will decide to cover the Potato Bowl next December too.

San Diego State has a better football program than it does a basketball program.

Repeat that sentence 10 times without smirking.

Then bust out in howling laughter.

Hard to believe such a thing is true but it is with Rocky Long’s team just one victory away from matching the school record for wins.

The football Aztecs (10-3) have won nine consecutive games and defeated Air Force in last Saturday’s Mountain West championship game. They will meet Cincinnati (7-5) in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.

They won all eight of their regular-season conference games by double digits. That is one hard feat.

And they nearly swept the conference’s major awards – and that is a super, duper hard feat.

Junior running back Donnel Pumphrey (1,554 rushing yards, 19 total touchdowns) was the Offensive Player of the Year, junior cornerback Damontae Kazee (seven interceptions) was the Defensive Player of the Year, sophomore Rashaad Penny (30.6 average on kickoff returns, two touchdowns) was the Special Teams Player of the Year and Long was named the Coach of the Year.

Long had to work some major magic after a 1-3 start that included a home loss to South Alabama. Not Nick Saban’s Alabama, something called South Alabama.

But he got the team turned around and now it is rolling.

Surely rolling better than during the eight years I was at practice every day covering a dogmeat program. Never once did San Diego State have a winning record with me patrolling the premises.

In fact, the last time the football Aztecs were better than the basketball Aztecs was because the hoopsters didn’t win a single conference game. That would be Steve Fisher’s first season as coach in 1999-2000.

But things haven’t started well for Fab Five Fish this season.

His team didn’t look like any of the recent hard-nosed squads when they lost at Utah. But worse, they had cupcake San Diego Christian up next and only won by 10.

That is the type of team the Aztecs have been beating by 30, 40 or 50 points over the past six to seven seasons.

Then they lost at home to Little Rock, scoring just 43 points. Losing to Little Rock – Little Rock! – anywhere is not good.

The beat down that occurred against West Virginia was even more alarming. Sure, the Mountaineers have a better program but who would expect them to drub the Aztecs by a score of 72-50 on a neutral floor?

And Sunday we got another reminder that these Aztecs aren’t all that solid. They trailed San Diego – known as USD locally – by 21 points in the well-hyped Petco Park contest and lost 53-48.

The Aztecs had beaten the Toreros nine straight times.

And yeah, Kansas is on the docket for Dec. 22. Not Little Kansas but real Kansas.

Real mad Kansas as coach Bill Self hasn’t forgotten losing at home to San Diego State two seasons ago.

Going to be a real big losing margin unless something changes quickly.

The Aztecs (6-4) could help themselves immensely by beating the Jayhawks. That would be a victory that would stand out come March in case San Diego State should be on the NCAA tournament bubble.

And as of right now, that sounds about right. There will surely be five or six upcoming defeats in conference play and San Diego State may have to win the Mountain West conference tourney to be part of the NCAA tournament.

Right now, these Aztecs are NIT material. And that is a fact.

Freshman point guard Jeremy Hemsley (12.8) is the lone player averaging in double digits. Senior forward Winston Shepard (9.1) is once again underperforming and sophomore forward Malik Pope (6.1) has to be frustrating the tar out of Fisher.

I sat in on practices dozens of times a season during Fisher’s first eight seasons as coach. You always knew who he felt wasn’t giving the proper effort or didn’t have the right focus.

Something tells me Pope – who actually considered leaving for the NBA after his underwhelming freshman season – is the recipient of many exasperated comments.

Pope is supposed to be a shooter, right? Check this out – he’s shooting 29.2 percent from the field.

Repeat – 29.2 percent.

And NBA scouts think he’s a draftable player? He wouldn’t get selected in the Top 5 picks at the local YMCA based on that kind of misfiring.

The authorities would come take away his shooting license.

So there you go, it is the basketball program that is playing second fiddle.

Could it be the start of a trend? Probably not.

But I used to cover 20-point basketball losses with regularity. Those Aztecs hoopsters were annually among the worst teams in the nations.

Nobody foresaw that change coming.

So who knows whether another changing of the campus guard is about to occur.

I can still recall hearing the news that Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon got injured in 1984 and would be sidelined with a lacerated kidney.

That injury occurred well before the days of the Internet – your home phone was the only way people could find you back then – so a friend and I headed over to the local bookstore to learn the meaning.

The second I saw the word “sliced” I suddenly felt real bad for McMahon, who was then one of the biggest jerks in pro sports.

I kept picturing a kidney being sliced and I would just cringe.

Well, lacerated kidney is back in the sports vernacular as San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen is done for the season. Yep, he suffered a lacerated kidney during Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The injury cuts short what was on pace to being a historic season for Allen, the third-year pro who has gone from being a third-round draft steal in 2013 to one of the NFL’s top receivers.

Allen had 67 receptions in eight games before leaving Sunday’s game at halftime due to the injury. The catches tie for third-most in NFL history over a team’s first eight games.

Atlanta’s Julio Jones (70 this season) and former Indianapolis standout Marvin Harrison (69 in 2002) are the only players to have more.

Another way to put Allen’s fabulous half season in perspective is this: He had 71 receptions during a fantastic rookie campaign in 2013 and then increased that to 77 catches last season.

He was not only on pace to shatter his personal high but he also was going to obliterate the Chargers franchise mark of 100 receptions by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2003.

But now Allen’s season is over. It ended with an acrobatic 13-yard touchdown catch in which he landed awkwardly and remained on the turf for several minutes.

Allen’s loss rates as a blow for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who has been outstanding with 2,753 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has deep bonds with tight end Antonio Gates and receiver Malcom Floyd but has quickly built a fabulous rapport with Allen.

Judging by ownership intentions, Allen might have played his final game during the organization’s San Diego tenure. Team president Dean Spanos is working as hard as possible to get the franchise permission to move to Los Angeles.

That would leave San Diegans to remember Allen as the guy who lacerated his kidney as they cringe inside and feel phantom pain near their own kidneys.

There’s just something awful about that term: lacerated kidney.

Didn’t like it when it happened to Jim McMahon and don’t like it now as the situation plays out with Keenan Allen.

Consider me impressed that the Kansas City Royals will always be referred to as 2015 World Series champions.

There seemed to be this belief from the so-called experts that there was no chance the Royals would return to the World Series for a second straight season. Kind of like these know-it-alls thought it was a fluke the club reached the 2014 World Series.

But think about it – San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner had a World Series for the ages last year. If he didn’t exist, we would be referring to the Kansas City Royals as back-to-back champions tonight.

They definitely deserve the tag as 2015 champions after winning the World Series against the New York Mets in five games.

The Royals were the best team of this entire postseason. By far.

They get key hits, they make key pitches, they thrive in the clutch and everyone on the team contributes.

Oh yes, they certainly have unlikely heroes.

I mean, geez, somebody named Christian Colon hadn’t batted this entire postseason. Naturally, he comes up and delivers the tiebreaking single in the 12th inning of what turned into a 7-2 victory.

But Colon never gets the chance to engrave his name into Royals’ lore if not for Kansas City’s two-run ninth inning. That’s when first baseman Eric Hosmer made the daring dash to score the tying run – a sprint that instantly etches itself in baseball lore.

New York took a 2-0 lead into that ninth inning behind Matt Harvey’s stellar pitching. Mets manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen had decided to lift Harvey after the eighth inning before the right-hander talked his manager into letting him start the ninth.

The Royals moved within 2-1 and Hosmer was on third with one out. World Series MVP Salvador Perez hit a grounder to third and as soon as David Wright threw the ball to first, Hosmer dashed for home.

All New York first baseman Lucas Duda needed to do was make your typical on-the-mark throw home and Hosmer was a dead duck. But Duda’s toss home resembled the type of throw NFL quarterback Brandon Weeden would make – high and wide of the target – and Hosmer scored the tying run instead of making the final out.

From that point on, it seemed just a matter of time before the Royals would win that game and it finally happened in the 12th. That is when Colon singled home the first of five runs in the inning to leave the Mets feeling devastated.

Collins will certainly receive some heat in New York for letting Harvey talk him into pitching the ninth. But there was nothing wrong with that – Harvey sailed through the eighth inning and was dominating Kansas City hitters.

But once Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to start the ninth, perhaps Collins should have made the change. Instead, Hosmer smacked a run-scoring double and soon came the famous dash home with closer Jeurys Familia on the mound.

Regardless, the Royals made things happen. Now they are viewed as big-time winners and the turnaround has been swift.

Kansas City endured a string of 17 losing campaigns in an 18-season span before finishing with an 86-76 record in 2013. Then came last season’s surprise World Series appearance and now Ned Yost will forever be referenced as a World Series-winning manager.

Who ever thought that was a possibility?

This is Kansas City’s second World Series title – the first one somehow being 30 years ago. Wow 1985, where did you go?

That was a fun band of Royals led by Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett.

That club also featured terrific players like left fielder Willie Wilson and second baseman Frank White. Bret Saberhagen was the ace of a pitching staff – he won 20 regular-season games at age 21 that season – that included starters Charlie Leibrandt, Danny Jackson and closer Dan Quisenberry.

At that time, it seemed like the Royals would be in line to win another title or two and it didn’t happen. Instead, the long drought of missing out on the playoffs began.

The funny thing is that this group of Royals looks like they should be back in the World Series sometime within the next few years too. Perhaps even win another title.

That would be equally as impressive.

Ever think where the San Diego Chargers might be if they didn’t have Philip Rivers on their team?

Um, no, smartass, saying “in Los Angeles” isn’t the proper answer.

They also wouldn’t have been in the game against the unbeaten Green Bay Packers if not for Rivers having a superb contest.

The Chargers suffered a painful 27-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday in what was an absolutely stellar effort by the veteran quarterback.

Rivers had the most prolific game by a quarterback in Chargers history – the type of performance that would even make Hall of Famer Don Fouts blush.

Rivers set clubs records for completions (43), attempts (65) and passing yardage (503). He broke his own club record for passing yardage – 455 against the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 – while becoming only the 17th player in NFL history to top 500 yards in a single game.

Receiver Keenan Allen caught 14 passes – one short of the franchise record he shares with Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow – before leaving with a hip injury.

But all that production didn’t equate to a victory. The Chargers only scored 20 points despite accumulating 32 first downs, possessing the ball for 38 minutes and running 89 plays to Green Bay’s 49.

The Chargers had a chance to force overtime but a third-and-goal run by Woodhead was halted for a 1-yard loss and Rivers’ fourth-down throw into the right flat never reached Woodhead as the pass was broken up by Green Bay cornerback Damarious Randall.

Just like that, Rivers’ big game wasn’t enough.

Here’s the number why the Chargers head home disappointed – 20.

All that production and San Diego only scored 20 points.

Rough way to drop to 2-4 and pretty much know that you are out of the AFC West race with the Denver Broncos being undefeated.

The Packers remained unbeaten with the victory and recorded their 13th straight home win. Oh yeah, they are also 10-1 lifetime against the Chargers.

So the history wasn’t good as San Diego’s lone win against the Packers came on Oct. 7, 1984 and you may know it is also one of the most-ignored victories in franchise history.

That’s because the Padres beat the Chicago Cubs to reach the World Series for the first time that same afternoon. Winslow set his franchise record during that contest but the only receptions most San Diegans saw were on the Monday Night Football halftime highlights the following night.

So considering the history, it wasn’t looking too good for the Chargers when they spotted Green Bay a 17-3 lead.

Aaron Rodgers threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to James Starks in the first quarter and Starks later added a 65-yard touchdown run. Starks appeared stuffed in the middle of line before reversing to the right and taking advantage of the fact the Chargers backside defenders over pursued and meandered down the field for the score.

But the Chargers regrouped and scored a significant touchdown right before halftime. Allen caught a pass near the goal line with 12 seconds left – a review confirmed he was a foot short – and San Diego nearly let time run out before using one of its two timeouts.

Nearly a pretty major gaffe by coach Mike McCoy, who has made a habit of curious decisions during his head-coaching stint. There was no reason to be scrambling to the line and trying to get set to snap the ball at the last second. He had TWO timeouts.

If the play gets reviewed, the result can only be improved for the Chargers. The replay officials may have ruled Allen got in as opposed to being a foot short. So no need to hurry and get a play off.

Then weirder, McCoy ran in the field-goal kicking team while the play was under review. It is OK if you used your Nancy Kerrigan “WHYYYYYYY?” voice because that was even sillier than the timeout fiasco.

Finally, San Diego got the offense back on the field and cashed in as Rivers threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman. Trailing 17-10 at halftime in Lambeau Field provided hope and that was infinitely much better than trailing 17-3 or 17-6.

Helping matters more is that the Chargers continued to play strong at the outset of the third quarter and tied the contest on Rivers’ 19-yard scoring pass to Ladarius Green.

But Rodgers finally got Green Bay moving again after going more than 20 minutes without a first down. Once the Packers went ahead 24-17 on Rodgers’ 8-yard pass to James Jones with 46 seconds left in the third quarter, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if things fell apart.

It didn’t happen as the Chargers moved back within four points on Jeff Lambo’s 32-yard field goal and were able to make the Packers settle for a 28-yard field goal by Mason Crosby with 2:37 remaining.

But the final drive didn’t produce the tying points. Rivers drove the Chargers down the field but the offense stalled after reaching the 3-yard line. Two Woodhead runs and two incomplete passes later, San Diego walked off the field with its third road loss of the season.

Just don’t put any blame on Philip Rivers.

Sure, he only guided his club to 20 points but what more could he do?

He did it all on Sunday and it still wasn’t enough for a victory.