For 13 seasons, punter Mike Scifres has found himself in Quacomm Stadium, playing for the San Diego Chargers.
He recognizes that Sunday, it might happen for the final time in his career.
“It’s going to be an emotional day, for sure,” Scifres said Friday.
Scifres is one of five players -- tight end Antonio Gates, quarterback Philip Rivers, safety Eric Weddle and wide receiver Malcom Floyd – who have played with the Chargers since entering the NFL, and who have never known a home game to not be played at Qualcomm Stadium. With the threat of relocation still looming, however, there’s no guarantee that the Chargers will be in San Diego after 2015.
So, Sunday could be it.
“It does say a lot, to play in one city for a long time,” said Scifres, who, along with Gates, are the longest-tenured Chargers on the roster. “That’s rare. It really is rare, to see guys stay in one place for a long time. We grew up together in this league and we’ve played our whole careers -- up to this point -- in the same place. It really is special … We had some great times here. A lot of big wins, and a lot of great games. We got to share a lot of special moments with a lot of special people.
“It speaks to the organization trusting in us. It speaks to us being able to perform week in and week out, year in and year out. It’s been special and it’s something that, when all is said and done for me -- however long that is from now -- I can say, ‘I was in that city for that long.'”
While it hasn’t been the best season for the fifth-round draft pick out of Western Illinois, it doesn’t change what he’s given his teammates his entire career: Impeccable punts that pin opponents inside the 20-yard line, forcing them to play on a long field.
“This hasn’t been the ideal season for me, obviously,” Scifres said. “It hasn’t been what I’ve done the last 12 years. I’ve just been trying to rack my brain all year and keep on working to fix it, to figure it out. These last few weeks have been better, but still not up to what I’ve set for myself … You feel like you let guys down. Especially as a punter. You give up field position and it’s like, ‘Dangit, if I would have put that ball on the 10, instead of the 21, who knows? Do we stop them there and get the ball back on the short field?’
“At the end of the season I always sit back and think about the things I did well and how I build on them, and then things that I need to improve, and I start getting myself right that way.”
A report surfaced earlier this week that Scifres was planning to retire after this season. The 35-year-old refuted it Friday.
“I haven’t made a decision,” he said. “I haven’t thought about it. It hasn’t even crossed my mind. I’m more of a day-to-day guy – go to work every day, and when it’s all said and done, make a decision. I don’t foresee [retirement].”
Scifres has one more year on his contract before becoming a free agent in 2017.