Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers tosses a pass to running back LaDainian Tomlinson during the Chargers' practice at the Cardinals' facility Wednesday.
Kurt Warner was watching television news footage Tuesday night of the San Diego Chargers arriving in Phoenix, a trip made necessary because of the raging wildfires in southern California.
The Chargers had to move in order to get in practice for this weekend's game against the Houston Texans. But given the circumstances, players' families also made the trip.
And that's what struck Warner.
"That is what I think about beyond all the football stuff," the Cardinals' quarterback said. "We hope that houses are the only thing lost."
The rare double practice took place at the Cards' Tempe complex Wednesday. The
Cardinals worked out in the morning. In the afternoon, the Chargers took the field.
No decision has yet been made on where the Chargers-Texans game will be played – an announcement is expected Thursday, and it will likely be in either Dallas or Houston with Arizona out of the equation – but regardless, the Chargers are preparing in less-than-ideal circumstances.
"The National Football League is going to keep going," Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said following his team's afternoon workout. "We all feel bad with what is going on, but we have a game on Sunday or Monday, whenever it is. Right now we are just trying to focus on playing Houston.
"You deal with it and make adjustments."
The Chargers had to dress at the team hotel Wednesday and bus over in uniform, but they will have use of the Cardinals' locker room Thursday and Friday.
Tomlinson was one of the Chargers' players who received a reverse 911 call to evacuate his home. His house is OK. Chargers president Dean Spanos said of the 40 Chargers employees who were forced to evacuate their homes (Spanos said "17 or 18" were players), none had lost their homes as of Wednesday.
"In some ways it brings the team closer together," Spanos said. "We are trying to make a negative into a positive the best we can. (The Cardinals) have made it as convenient as possible for us so hopefully we will get three good days of practice."
The genesis of the move came when Cardinals president Michael Bidwill ran into Spanos and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Monday morning at the hotel headquarters of the NFL owners meetings in Philadelphia.
Bidwill had not seen a TV for a couple of days while the Cardinals readied for their game in Washington and then ownership traveled to Philadelphia. So when Spanos and Goodell approached Bidwill literally as he walked in the hotel and told him the Chargers had to come to Arizona again, "I thought they were kidding," Bidwill said.
It didn't take long to convince Bidwill otherwise, especially once he had a chance to flip on CNN and see the devastation.
Spanos thanked the Bidwills for helping his team for a second time in four years. The Cards helped host a Chargers-Miami Dolphins game in 2003 when wildfires forced the Chargers out of Qualcomm Stadium.
When Spanos introduced Bidwill to the team at the outset of Wednesday's practice, Bidwill told the Chargers "the thoughts and prayers of not just the Cardinals but everybody in the National Football League and everyone in the country are reaching out to the people of southern California."
Cardinals players all professed their concern for the Chargers. But one Cardinal – backup safety Matt Ware – had a unique perspective.
Ware's parents live in the Santa Monica mountains near Malibu in California, where wildfires were causing problems earlier this week. His family home is OK, Ware said.
But Ware remembered going through an evacuation when he was in elementary school and understands what an uncertain time it is, knowing just a change in the wind can put thousands of homes in jeopardy. Ware won't go home during the bye weekend because the ash in the air is so bad, he said.
As for the Chargers trying to play a game this weekend, Ware just shook his head.
"It would definitely more than in the back of your head," Ware said. "I know when we had to evacuate we didn't get to take everything. We had an hour or two to evacuate. What are you going to take? Pretty much take pictures … it's just a tough time. I pray for all them, man."
Tomlinson and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers both said they hoped their game this weekend could bring at least some moments of entertainment to the ravaged San Diego community.
But the more immediate impact was that the Chargers were back on the football field, even if it was the Cardinals' field in Tempe.
"The most important thing for us was what we did (today)," Chargers coach Norv Turner said, "which was getting back to our jobs."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 10/24/07
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