Seeing the Chiefs emerge from the tunnel Oct. 19 at Qualcomm Stadium was a surreal experience for first-year Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers.
Flowers, 28, was drafted by the Chiefs and spent his first six NFL seasons in red and gold before he was released last spring and signed with the AFC West rival Chargers.
“It was weird, to be honest, when those colors came into the stadium,” Flowers said. “All I know is being under that helmet, so playing against them was a little bit weird. … It was just different because I knew the players I was playing against as opposed to facing a normal NFL team I didn’t really know the personnel of.”
Flowers and San Diego finish the regular season Sunday against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The loser is eliminated from playoff contention.
The Chargers earn a wild card spot with a win, while the Chiefs need a win and some help — losses by Baltimore and Houston — to return to the playoffs.
Asked if it would be any sweeter to secure a playoff spot by beating the Chiefs, Flowers laughed long and hard. He wound up talking about how every NFL game is tough and how it would be sweet to beat anyone with a playoff spot on the line.
Any lingering anger or bitterness Flowers felt from being cut faded after that first game against the Chiefs.
“Before the season, I was more amped and like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to play this team for the first time,’ but I’ve been on the field against them once already,” he said. “It’s week 17 now. I’ve been through so many ups and downs with (the Chargers), so it’s not like I’m glued into this one game because it’s my former team.”
Gaines, Smith won’t play
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines would join quarterback Alex Smith as the only players listed as out for Sunday’s game against San Diego.
Smith was diagnosed with a lacerated spleen on Thursday. Gaines has been bothered with an illness.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (shoulder), running back Jamaal Charles (hamstring/ankle), and guard Zach Fulton (foot/toe) were listed as questionable.
The Chargers said wide receiver Keenan Allen (ankle/shoulder) was doubtful and center Chris Watt (ankle) is questionable.
Happy birthday, Jamaal
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on Saturday, said being born so soon after Christmas always created a dilemma for him.
“I didn’t get too many gifts because my birthday is two days behind Christmas,” he said. “I probably got two gifts. I never got to celebrate my birthday. And now when I get older, I make sure I celebrate my birthday; it doesn’t matter what.”
The Star’s Randy Covitz, Terez A. Paylor and Tod Palmer contributed to this report.