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Jay Paris: Padres are on-deck, but we give the Bolts one last look

Are you ready for some football? Uh, yeah, and that’s a good thing and quite a switch.

The Chargers’ season reached its shelf life as fans stretched for dated lightning bolts T-shirts. The NFL calendar no longer includes the Chargers, just when our sports body clock was ticking loudly.

Sunday’s playoff loss to the Denver Broncos bucked the Bolts, but not the feel-good that accompanied the season’s latter stages.

It’s difficult to decipher which is harder to believe: that coach Mike McCoy’s rookie campaign lasted this long or that it ended so abruptly.

A rebuilding year was just that until Dec. 8. The Giants’ Eli Manning brought the best out of the Chargers and they didn’t stop winning until a month later in Denver.

That the 5-7 Chargers climbed off the deck was sensational in snapping a three-year run of missing the playoffs.

That the Chargers couldn’t deck the Broncos’ Peyton Manning twice in a month was disturbing.

But accomplishment trumps heartache, even with the Chargers falling eight quarters shy of their second Super Bowl. There was a sea change at Chargers Park, which beat the seasick nausea the team ended last year with.

It was to be an offseason clogged with firings and hirings. General manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner were shown the door as their window for a sunny Chargers legacy slammed shut.

This offseason also has the team eager to get busy filling holes. But those crevices aren’t at the top of the organizational chart, and that’s a plus.

Same goes for a fan base not pinning for the Padres, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In the big picture, though, the Chargers hate their followers hitting the tape of another season leaning on the date of when P&CR. Yep, having customers aching for the Padres’ pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training translates into a disappointing fall of football.

But there was no winter of discontent this time. The Chargers not only won on the field in winning their first playoff game in five years, but they reset the vibe and connection with their fans.

That’s swell but we remind everyone there are no slam dunks in the NFL and will present the 1994 Chargers as proof.

The only squad to reach the Super Bowl was thought to be a season ahead of the franchise’s grand plan. Regardless of the delivery date, most thought it was the initial year of a long string of success.

Then the next season brought a wild-card home playoff loss to the Colts against some quarterback named Jim Harbaugh.

The following year the Chargers missed the playoffs and canned coach Bobby Ross.

That’s not to predict that history will find the repeat loop. In fact, optimism is as easy to locate as that moth-ridden Chargers apparel which suddenly becoming chic again.

“I think the way we finished and what we did in the first year with this new staff and really, a new team, we have a lot of new guys, has set the foundation to what we hope is going to be a tear to getting into the tournament for consecutive years,’’ quarterback Philip Rivers said. “(But) you are never guaranteed that.’’

It’s hard arguing with someone who made the bolo tie cool. No lie, it was because of Rivers that chillin’ in Chargers gear became hip again.

We’re not sad that the Padres are around the corner, just reluctant to shed a seat in what was a wild Chargers ride. We plop a bow on the season by paying tribute to our departed Padres friend.

When thinking of the 2013 Chargers, we do so by hanging a star on the memories.

Jay Paris can be heard talking Chargers football on 1090 AM on Monday and Friday mornings. He’s also the Wednesday morning co-host of “Hacksaw and Company.” He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jparis_sports.