Oceanside’s Justin Robinson got on the Chargers bandwagon years ago. Now he boards their bus.
“Junior Seau was a hometown hero in Oceanside and that got me loving the Bolts,” Robinson said. “Then when they got LaDainian Tomlinson, that was icing on the cake.”
Robinson’s Sundays often have him on the 5 North Bolt bus. The 53-person coach aims for SoFi Stadium each Chargers home game, and Robinson is usually among its seat covers.
“The vibe on the bus is just like the Chargers — lots of electricity,” he said. “There are many Chargers fans and we all feed off each other and get pumped up. We get to reconnect with each other.”
Here’s where the disconnect comes with many readers and we get it. They wouldn’t cross the street to see the Chargers, and after 56 years of rooting for them in San Diego, that is a fair position.
Others can separate the greed from the gridiron and they’re in it for the entertainment. Some, like Robinson, have gone hip, hip, hooray for the Chargers since childhood.
“That split from San Diego was hard and I respect people with their decisions not to root for the Chargers,” Robinson said. “But all I know is what type of fan I am. I grew up watching this team and my dad got me hooked on them.”
Hanging out with Patty Gutierrez is addictive as well. Gutierrez is the energetic entrepreneur behind 5 North Bolt and if only the Chargers could match her get-up-and-go.
When the Chargers fled San Diego, Gutierrez saw an opportunity. After the pandemic flattened everyone’s tires last year, the bus is back and rolling with a $5 billion venue as its destination. The Oceanside pickup point is at the northwest corner of the I-5 and Highway 78 interchange.
“I became a Chargers fan because of Junior Seau,” Gutierrez said.
She’s not alone and also not adverse to keeping Seau’s name relevant. Gutierrez has joined forces with Seau’s sister and the Mary Seau CTE Foundation to educate athletes, young and old, about concussions and their ramifications.
Tests on Seau’s brain after he committed suicide in 2012 revealed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) following his 20-year NFL career.
“The foundation isn’t anti-football or anything like that,” Gutierrez said. “You can get a concussion from falling off your scooter. We just want people to be aware of the safety measures and how to avoid getting hurt.”
The bus bunch kicked off the season with a recent fundraiser at The Draft in Oceanside. Burt Grossman, a former Chargers teammate of Seau’s, was the master of ceremonies and we’re still not sure if he’s done telling stories.
It was a fun night, dough was raised for a good cause and now it’s time for a type of football that leaves the driving to someone else.
For Robinson, even catching the Chargers’ opener on Sunday would be a capitol idea.
“If they had a bus going to Washington D.C.,” he said. “I would be on it.”
Instead Robinson and others filling the two buses will cool their jets. The Chargers’ home opener is Sept. 19, featuring the Dallas Cowboys and some North County Chargers fans ignoring the city in front of their favorite NFL team’s name.
It costs $125 for a round-trip fare on 5 North Bolt, which includes unlimited drinks, snacks and a raffle. If you’ve peeked at the SoFi parking prices, that’s a steal.
Just don’t depart early and deprive Robinson of seeing his Chargers defeat the Cowboys, 38-34 — his prediction, not mine.
“Even if we happen to lose,” Robinson said, “there’s always a party on the bus.”