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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Chargers, G.M. Smith on roll since Eli didn't come to town

    Chargers, G.M. Smith on roll since Eli didn't come to town

    December 11, 2004

    Manning father and son, aka Archie and Jughead, punctuated it and tried to perpetuate it. That the Chargers were a bunch of losers, buffoons unworthy of the family name, which probably goes all the way back to a time when Manning moonshiners were being chased by revenuers.

    It was the most embarrassing time in the history of a franchise not allergic to embarrassment. It's one thing not to be wanted. To be put to national ridicule is another.

    But maybe it was a blessing.

    Because, since April, when Papa Archie and agent Tom Condon looked at the 32 NFL teams and determined San Diego was the one organization they wanted no part of for son/client/quarterback Eli, the Chargers have not been the same.

    General Manager A.J. Smith was slapped in the face, and slapped hard, but he didn't go down. He drafted Eli and then dealt him to the salivating Giants, pulling down their trousers in the process.

    The Giants are 5-7 and haven't won since Eli was named starting quarterback. The Chargers are 9-3 because Smith has brought in players willing to revise history rather than pay homage to it.

    The Mannings saw a franchise that hadn't won in eight years. They saw a head coach in Marty Schottenheimer who was on the way out. Smith was a neophyte GM, seen by many as in over his head.

    Now the Mannings are looking at 5-7. Smith, sitting up straight at 9-3 with Tampa Bay coming to town tomorrow, is odds-on NFL Executive of the Year. The Man Who Couldn't Do It, the same man club President Dean Spanos was rumored to be replacing at the jerk of a knee, is doing just fine.

    "I heard it all and read it all," Smith says. "It took on a life of its own. Marty's incompetent. He's gone. A.J. doesn't know what he's doing. He's gone. There were rumors that Dean was asking all over the place about front-office people."

    It reached the point where Smith actually talked with Spanos about his being replaced after a little more than a year as GM.

    "I talked to Dean, yes, earlier in the season," Smith says. "I told him I'd like to know if it's true; where was it coming from? He said, 'Forget it. You're my guy.' I looked him in the eye and I said, 'Good enough for me.' I went back to work.

    "Look, it will take me 20 minutes to gather up the photographs in my office and get the stuff out of the left drawer of my desk and I'll be out of here."

    Smith was both ridiculed and praised Ė he was lauded here Ė for his handling of the Manning issue. Not that he had caused the Chargers' miseries. He had been on the job long enough to conduct but one draft. But he had become guilty by association with failure.

    "I thought it was unfair," he says. "We were just putting in a blueprint. It was unbelievable. We had three meetings and Archie made it perfectly clear he didn't want anything to do with this organization. Fine. Done.

    "Archie made calls, so I made calls. I've been in the league 27 years. When I finished, I had a plan. Eli turned out to be a bar of gold for us. Still, it was a humiliating thing for this organization, for me personally and our head coach. It singled out the franchise.

    "They have a right to think what they want and do what they want. So do I. I was an NFL lieutenant, not GM material. Fine. Like Marv Levy told me, just win and you'll become very smart."

    Even now, there are members of the national media questioning Smith's handling of the Drew Brees issue. Smith did the Manning deal to get quarterback Philip Rivers with no way of knowing Brees possibly could have the exceptional year he's enjoying.

    Brees becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season. What is Smith to do? The Chargers will have more than $20 million in cap room next year, so he could put a franchise tag on Brees for $9 million and still have money to spare.

    "We were not going to give Drew a long-term contract, based on what we had seen," Smith says. "People can get better, no question, but we're in the decision-making business. I was not going to assume Drew was going to be a great quarterback. I wanted to protect the football team by drafting another quarterback I believe will be a star in the league.

    "We will franchise Drew if we so desire. Maybe franchise and trade him. I have no clue. I can't tell Dean Spanos we have an unrestricted quarterback who's playing great and he's leaving. It's not sound football."

    Of course, the latest rumors have Smith trading Rivers.

    "Absolutely not," he says. "It's not going to happen."

    If nothing else, Smith can sit back and enjoy what he's helped put together. With 27 years of NFL experience, of paying attention, he has learned games can be won if you get real football players who don't have their own agendas. He's finished with nonsense.

    "I don't like surprises," Smith says, "except on Christmas."

    The Chargers no doubt have surprised the Mannings. But not A.J. Smith.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Chargers, G.M. Smith on roll since Eli didn't come to town

    It's always great when justice prevails.

  3. #3
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    Re: Chargers, G.M. Smith on roll since Eli didn't come to town

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike
    It's always great when justice prevails.
    And it only gets better - with each game that Eli and the Giants lose, the Chargers get a higher draft pick next year.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  4. #4
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    Re: Chargers, G.M. Smith on roll since Eli didn't come to town

    That AND they haven't even PLAYED Rivers so their future is still very sunny.
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    Re: Chargers, G.M. Smith on roll since Eli didn't come to town

    Chargers have 2 #1 picks next year.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


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  6. #6
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    Re: Chargers, G.M. Smith on roll since Eli didn't come to town

    Everyone is also speculating that they'll tag Brees and see what he can do. Things could be even better if Brees had decided to play this well earlier.
    DJRamFan
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