<strong>July 22, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=pasquarelli_len&id=2113998&num=4">ESPN</a>
San Diego general manager A.J. Smith is a smart guy and the renovation that he has enacted with the Chargers is admirable. But one has to wonder why, in the middle of what figures to be an acrimonious negotiation with first-round defensive end Shawne Merriman, the Chargers' front office boss dredged up last year's spitting match with Jimmy Sexton, the agent for 2004 first-round quarterback Philip Rivers.
In discussing the soon-to-be messy bargaining on the Merriman deal, Smith told the San Diego Union Tribune: "He will be given a good contract by the Chargers and, if he rejects it and misses the first day of camp, it's only going to get worse. They don't have leverage -- not with this organization. Call Jimmy Sexton and ask him and you'll find out. He played games, and everything blew up in his face. He got the double whammy."
The "double whammy" term is Smith's take that Rivers suffered financially by holding out and that he lost his opportunity to win the starting job. But the truth is, Rivers still landed a contract that was regarded as the second-best in the first round, after that of Eli Manning, the top overall selection. And despite having Rivers miss most of camp, Marty Schottenheimer still waited until late in the preseason to give Drew Brees the starting job. In fact, going into the third game of the season, the Chargers coaching staff was considering a switch at quarterback, with Brees perilously close to being replaced.
Smith is feeling his oats and, given the job he's done after succeeding the late John Butler, rightly so. But he may have erred in jabbing Sexton publicly and in such an uncalled-for manner. At some point down the road, he's going to have to deal with Sexton either on a trade of Rivers or a contract extension and his words won't be easily dismissed.