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Displaced Chargers want to help community, eager to play next game

TEMPE, Ariz. – The San Diego Chargers are well aware that football is only a game, and they are but entertainers. The fires rampaging across the San Diego area make that very clear.

Still, the Chargers believe that by playing the Houston Texans – somewhere on Sunday or Monday – will fill a useful role for a community just beginning to sift through the ashes.

“To play a game, hopefully back there, but wherever it is,” quarterback Philip Rivers said, “is hopefully going to lift people’s spirits because this is something the county is going to have to deal with for a lot more than a couple of days.”

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders will decide whether the Chargers’ home, Qualcomm Stadium, can be made available for the scheduled game. If not, Dallas and Houston were being considered. The stadium has been used as an evacuation center. An estimated 10,000 were there on Wednesday.

“We’re waiting as long as we can to assess the need for a shelter as large as Qualcomm,” the mayor’s spokesman Fred Sainz said Wednesday.

“The mayor, when he spoke yesterday, said the concern is really not a football game, the concern was to assure people evacuated from their homes that they have a a safe place to go,” Sainz said. “That remains our priority.”

The team left the charred air of San Diego for three days of practice, beginning Wednesday, at the Arizona Cardinals’ training facility. Rivers likened the atmosphere to training camp. The players were doing their best to concentrate on game preparation, even though an estimated two dozen of them had been evacuated from their homes because of the threat of fire.

As far as anyone knew, no players or staff members had lost their homes.

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