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"Smith's ego getting in the way of Chargers' path to the Super Bowl"

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by DenverBolt67, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    SAN DIEGO -- A.J. Smith's second-floor office at the Chargers' training facility has wall-to-wall glass windows, tropical plants and colored M&Ms in a large glass jar on his desk. There are practice tapes and a playback machine on the shelving along one wall, and a large magnetic white board hanging from another.

    Strategically placed throughout the room are picture frames with famous quotations inside. One is by Winston Churchill, another is by Maya Angelou. Sadly for Chargers fans there is nothing from poet and philosopher George Santayana, whose "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" seems appropriate in the wake of the San Diego general manager's handling of the contract impasse with left tackle Marcus McNeill and wideout Vincent Jackson.

    For the second time in six seasons Smith appears poised to jeopardize a potentially promising season just to prove he's the alpha male. He calls it business, but from afar it looks like ego.

    With no gun to his head, he set an arbitrary deadline of June 15 for McNeill and Jackson to sign their contract tenders as restricted free agents. When the players failed to do so, he reduced the offers from $3.2 million to just over $600,000 and said he would not raise them.

    Yep, he showed that his was bigger than theirs. But in the process he also erased any incentive for the players to show up before training camp -- if at all. Why would two former Pro Bowlers, in their prime and seeking to cash in after outperforming their rookie contracts, risk serious injury and a big payday in 2011 for a 10 percent raise over the final year of their rookie deals?

    Answer: They won't. At least people close to them say they won't. And please don't say it's to gain another accrued season. The Players Association is not going to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement that requires more than four years to reach unrestricted free agency, and Jackson and McNeill have already reached that standard..

    In the meantime the Chargers' quest to reach the Super Bowl becomes that much harder. A return to the postseason seems a fait accompli considering they're the only team in the lowly AFC West to post a winning record in any of the previous three seasons and their non-conference schedule is against the equally awful NFC West. But what happens then?

    In 2006 they finished 14-2 but lost their playoff opener at home under former coach Marty Schottenheimer. Last season they won 11 in a row and finished 13-3 under current coach Norv Turner but again lost their playoff opener at home. The schedule this season is set up for them to win 10, 12 or 14 games even without Jackson and McNeill. But I ask again: Then what?

    Smith's tough-guy stance is nothing new. He did the same thing in 2005, when he suspended star tight end Antonio Gates for Week 1 against Dallas after Gates held out in training camp for a new deal. The sides ultimately came to terms before the opener, but Smith upheld the suspension anyway. San Diego lost 28-24 after failing to cross the goal line on four plays from inside the Cowboys 8-yard line in the final minute. The previous year Gates led all tight ends and tied for fifth in the league with 10 TD catches. Think he could have helped in that game, the outcome of which contributed to the Chargers missing the playoffs?

    Those who cannot remember the past ...

    The irony of the current situation is that it flies in the face of many of Smith's stated principles. Such as:

    • Identify core players and lock them up early in their careers. He did it with center Nick Hardwick, defensive end Luis Castillo and linebackers Shaun Phillips, Stephen Cooper, Jyles Tucker and Matt Wilhelm (since released) before their rookie deals were up. But not McNeill and Jackson. They were close to a deal with McNeill in 2008 before a neck injury caused them to push back from the table and McNeill to change agents. Jackson has had legal issues stemming from driving while intoxicated, but he has been a standout on the field and clearly is underpaid.
    aj-smith.jpg
    A.J. Smith is entering his eighth season as general manger of the Chargers.
    AP

    • Stock the roster two- and three-deep at every position. No disrespect to LT Tra Thomas and WR Josh Reed, veterans who were brought in to provide depth, but they couldn't carry McNeill's or Jackson's shoulder pads at this point in their careers. Maybe Brandyn Dombrowski and Legedu Naanee will prove to be capable replacements -- as Smith says, we won't know until we see them under fire. Still, that's a tremendous roll of the dice after signing your franchise QB to a $92 million extension last year.

    • Plan two and three years down the road. Smith says the uncertain labor situation and possible work stoppage in 2011 is a major factor in the team's reluctance to fast-track contract negotiations. Still, he had to have known a potential lockout was coming. It was obvious the minute the owners opted out of the current deal in 2008, two years after signing it. And it didn't prevent the team from making Gates the highest-paid tight end in league history.

    I get it that A.J. has a list of players he wants to sign to new deals, and that there's a pecking order of his choosing. What I don't understand is why he creates an adversarial environment when there isn't a need for it. There was no need to impose an arbitrary deadline on McNeill or Jackson, just as no one is preventing him from talking to the players today. It's about ego now, about proving that when we say something we mean it -- even if what we say could hurt the team.

    I absolutely believe Smith wants to win a championship, but he's going to do it his way, which means sometimes placing his ego ahead of the team. He is not going to allow an agent or player to say they got the better of him, er, the Chargers while he's at the helm. That's fine if the goal is to hang your hat on division titles, but to win championships you need players. Bill Belichick is being reminded of that in New England.

    Who knows, perhaps Smith is right. The man has an eye for talent, his last few drafts notwithstanding. Still, for all their talent the Chargers have been trending downward the past few years. They won two playoff games in Turner's first season, one in his second and none last year. Which might explain the Angelou quote behind Smith's desk. It reads: "We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated."

    That never-give-in attitude apparently applies to contract negotiations as well as football games.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/20...r/07/31/chargers/index.html?eref=twitter_feed
  2. HEXEDBOLT
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    HEXEDBOLT Well-Known Member

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    What a pile of steaming donkey ****.
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  3. turbo_turtle
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    turbo_turtle In Disguise

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    Co-signed and truth right here.
  4. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    There isn't an incorrect word in that column. So I don't see how it can be ****
  5. foober
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    foober BoltTalker

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    All the blame lands on mcneils jacksons agents. They tried playing games and as everyone and god knows A.j. doesn't play games. What he says he means. Something mcneils and jacksons agents don't seem to understand.

    Dump your pimp agents mcneil and jackson. They are screwing your nfl career up big time.
  6. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    According to McNeils agent-
    "Marcus is committed to his position, and regardless of who is speaking on his behalf, his position is coming solely from Marcus.”

    What it comes down to, there is plenty of blame to go around. MM, His agent, and AJ all share in the blame
  7. turbo_turtle
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    turbo_turtle In Disguise

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    My opinion it is Sh!t. Trotter is Hating on AJ again my opinion. I know it is all the Spanos fault for keeping the Chargers successful with AJ at the GM position, again my opinion.
  8. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Trotter and AJ have never been buddies, mainly because unlike Kevin Acee, Trotter refused to act as AJ's puppet
  9. turbo_turtle
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    turbo_turtle In Disguise

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    I am going here. I have to.

    First it was the Owners for not going into a deal for a new CBA to include the Spanos family. so hate of the Spanos for being an owner of the Chargers. Now there is the hate AJ for being what AJ is, which is doing what is in the best interest for the San Diego Chargers. If he did not AJ would be fired and not have a job.

    It all boils down to Opinion and we all have them. There is no need to argue.
  10. The LBC
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    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Actually, there is. It's purely speculation that AJ is putting "his ego ahead of the team".

    Yes, you and everyone that's antsy that McNeill and Jackson aren't signed long-term or more importantly aren't in camp right now want a scapegoat... and yes AJ Smith has an ego. However this reads like it was written by someone who is ultimately frustrated because they can't get a scoop edgewise out of AJ on what's going on. He set a hard line which he has a history of doing and he stuck to it, which he also has a history of doing.

    DB67, I know you've seen the list of impending free agents for 2011. We all know that AJ works with an eye toward not just the season at hand but the two and three seasons upcoming.

    He's established that there's a pecking order and that those guys who contribute at a high and put the team before themselves are the ones that are will be rewarded first. That was Rivers and that was Gates.

    And quite frankly I really don't see an issue with him suspending Gates after his previous holdout. It WAS conduct detrimental to the team. He was under contract and refused to report. Gates EARNED that suspension. The same as VJ has worked good and hard to EARN the two suspensions he's been issued by the league.

    Each one of these players who haven't been offered extensions has concerns that could very well make committing guarantees of 20-30 million dollars extremely costly to the long-term stability of this team.

    Say we re-up VJ at the contract he's seeking and the dumb SOB goes out and gets another DUI. So next season we're paying him guaranteed money to warm the bench... in jail (3 DUI's and I don't care who you are even Paris Hilton did jail time) and then on his sofa after Goodell suspends him for the season. Merriman has to "prove himself" but Jackson doesn't have to prove he can keep from getting arrested?

    McNeill is a different case, but the concerns over his long-term health are genuine. His spine isn't going to improve, in fact it's only going to get worse. Realistically his shelf-life is probably several seasons shorter than that of most other linemen his age without spinal stenosis. At the same time, it sounds like he's also the first in line if/when the next extension is given, provided he's willing to allow some concession that allows the team to get out from under the likely $9-10m/yr average if his health is an issue (i.e. probably an option in Y3 or Y4).

    Thing is, everyone knew that after Rivers was extended Gates was next in line. Maybe the players' own egos didn't want to believe it, but anyone with two eyes could see Gates was the next in line. We got a ****** situation... likely one of Gates or Jackson likely would have been extended at the close of last season had Gates not required surgery (which required a wait and see before committing the kind of guaranteed money he got) and had Jackson not decided he needed to drive drunk... again... the night before a home playoff game.
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  11. AnteaterCharger
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    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    Ignored in that group of people signed included Donnie Edwards, Jason Ball and Hannik Milligan - people who crossed AJ and got released in a hurry.

    Cross any GM and your likelihood of being signed long term drops a great deal
  12. Kwak
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    Kwak ....

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    Not shocked at all when I clicked on the link and it was Trotter's pie hole on the article.

    He also picked the Raiders to unseat the Chargers in the west when he was on Fist Take with Shaun Phillips. He usually has a slant when talking about the Chargers and it is not a good one.
  13. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    You mean the guy that was a good enough and respected writer which allowed him to get out of the dump that is called the UT?

    Guys like Acee will never get a real job because he has zero journalistic integrity. He doesn't tell his readers facts, he only tells them the aspects that AJ approves
  14. Carlsbad_Bolt_Fan
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    Carlsbad_Bolt_Fan Well-Known Member

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    Trotter only writes to sell SI magazines. Acee writes to sell newspapers.

    Given both of those FACTS, remind me who has more "jouralistic integrity"?
  15. HollywoodLeo
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    HollywoodLeo Trevor Phillips Enterprises

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    Did Smith's ego injure Rivers' and LT's knee in 2007?
  16. The LBC
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    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Well, it is evidently so big and occupies so much space that perhaps Rivers and LT got just a little to close just prior to the game and their poor appendages were crushed against the wall and later gave way under the weight.
  17. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Trotter use to be in Acee's job, and did a good enough job that he got a better job. Acee is still stuck sucking up to AJ to get anything to write about
  18. bigmike.x.09
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    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

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    You WOULD be the one to report this pile of ****.
  19. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Better than some crap from Acee which has to have AJ's approval.

    This article is totally factual
  20. bigmike.x.09
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    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

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  21. MasterOfPuppets
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    MasterOfPuppets Charger fan since 1979

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    I thought that the june 15 deadline was a league deadline not an arbitrary (by AJ) one
  22. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Nope, the deadline is a date the teams CAN reduce the tender, but they do not have to, and the Chargers were the only team that did
  23. Ride The Lightning
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    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

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    ...
  24. bigmike.x.09
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    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

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    He's gone B4L on us, all he talks about is AJ did x, y, z, l, m, n, o, p. Every goddamn thread.
  25. Boltzlover
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    Boltzlover BoltTalker

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    Only because all but one other player signed their tender. Talk about a drama queen.
  26. HEXEDBOLT
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    HEXEDBOLT Well-Known Member

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    Whatever happen with that person or was it some kind of a double from one of the regs in here??? It was funny as hell though, this guy is just full of it.
  27. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Wrong. It was posted like 2 days ago, there are like 10 RFA's in the NFL that have yet to sign their tender, and the Chargers are still the only ones to reduce the tenders. That includes Logan Mankins who was offered a new long term contract, turned it down, and still hasn't had his tender reduced
  28. DenverBolt67
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    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Funny how you say that, but no one can ever show me where I am wrong. They just say "You are full of it", but never give any justification as to why I am wrong.

    This is all while I almost always either say it is my opinion, or I provide backup as to why I say what I say.
  29. Ride The Lightning
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    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

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    No, B4L is a real person, not someone's sock. I'm sure once the season begins he'll rear his ugly head around here once again to everyone's dismay/entertainment.
  30. HEXEDBOLT
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    HEXEDBOLT Well-Known Member

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    I'm happy that the Charger's took this stance, I'm glad it upsets you so, that all you can think about is those poor millionaire player's. If they never play another down in the NFL it's no sweat off my back and the games are still going to be played. No one man is bigger than the game.

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