By Pablo J. Sáinz
Latino fans of the San Diego Chargers are still as fervent as 20 years ago, when Jorge Villanueva joined the team to be its official voice in Spanish in 1994.
That was the season in which the Chargers went to the Super Bowl, where they faced and lost to the San Francisco 49ers.
“The Latino fan is more effusive, fully supportive of the team,” said Villanueva, who narrates the games in Spanish on Pulsar 107.3 FM. “In good and bad times, the Latino fan is with the Chargers.”
Especially now that the San Diego Chargers face the Denver Broncos in the second round of the playoffs, Latino fans have been 100 percent behind the Chargers.
After the game last Sunday where the Chargers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, “people went crazy down in National City, Chula Vista,” Villanueva said. “Many people from Tijuana and Baja California have been contacting us to congratulate us and tell us they are with the team.”
In recent days, Villanueva, being the Spanish voice of the Chargers, has been giving interviews to international media to comment on the achievements of the San Diego team.
“I have been contacted from Hawaii, from San Francisco, New York, and other countries, especially radio stations in Mexico,” said the sports broadcaster.
Villanueva was born in the city of Puebla and began his career in sports journalism as a young man in Guadalajara. From there he moved to Tijuana, where he was part of Televisa news. In 1994 he crossed the border to become the Spanish chronicler of the Chargers.
In these 20 years that Villanueva has been with the Chargers, the Latin fan continues being loyal, although the team has evolved due to new technologies in the media.
“There are other players, but the essence remains the same. It is a team that always tries to give the best,” he said.
On its forecast for Sunday’s game against Denver, Villanueva said he hopes for a victory for San Diego, as the Chargers defeated the Broncos twice during the regular season.
“If the Chargers did so in two previous games, I do not see why we will not win again. The Chargers have everything going for them,” Villanueva said.
After a recent practice before the game against Denver at Chargers Park, near Qualcomm Stadium, Villanueva was interviewing several players for his radio and television shows.
With 20 years as part of the team, Villanueva knows the players by name and the players know him. In the hallways and around the field, players joke with him, call him “Jorge .” He is certainly part of the Chargers family.
During one of the recordings for a segment of his show, Villanueva interviewed linebacker Melvin Ingram, who is usually very quiet.
However, Villanueva knew how to make the player give a great interview. Ingram laughed, joked and even said a few phrases in Spanish.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we will win the game this Sunday,” Ingram said.
The player added that fans, especially Latinos, play an important role within the team.
“Without the fans there would be no team,” he said. “We really appreciate the support of the fans.”
After the interview with Ingram, Villanueva than-ks the player for his time. The sports broadcaster looks cheerful, confident, talking to popular players and coaches.
“In particular, I love my job,” he said.
To learn more about Jorge Villanueva, you can visit www.chargers.com/Spanish.