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A baffling policy that's worth talking about

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/02/19/sports/professional/chargers/22_01_532_18_06.txt">North County Times</a>

    By Jay Paris

    Sometimes the way the Chargers run their business ---- and make no mistake, it is a business ---- baffles me. Although I pride myself in exploring both sides of situations ---- in life and sports ---- this one I can't figure out.

    The Chargers -- who could allow a Pro Bowl quarterback to leave without compensation -- would seem to be in search of some good news. Their 2005 campaign ended like a horror flick, with Drew Brees wearing a sling as they nose-dived to a 9-7 record after starting their final four games at 8-4. The flameout plopped the defending AFC West champions into third place, cost them a playoff opportunity, settled coach Marty Schottenheimer's Chargers mark at 33-32 and general manager A. J. Smith's at 25-23.

    Numbers don't lie, but it's a fib to say the Chargers aren't on the right track ---- despite Schottenheimer and Smith being a nostril or two above .500. Still, it's a fact the team underachieved last season by missing the postseason for the ninth time in 10 years, with six Pro Bowl picks on their roster.
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    That's where this story starts. Of all the Charger Pro Bowlers, the best tale around the Hawaii luau was of defensive tackle Jamal Williams finally getting his due, recognized as the anchor of the squad's nasty run defense.

    While five other names were barked by Schottenheimer in the December team meeting announcing the Chargers' Pro Bowlers, none solicited hoots and hollers like Williams'.

    So how did the classy Williams toast his first trip to the Islands? He told Wayne Nunnely, his only position coach since arriving in San Diego in 1998, to pack a suitcase and hop a flight to Honolulu, too.

    The popular and personable Nunnely's reputation is such that he has done the NFL unthinkable: worked under four different Chargers head coaches and never been asked to leave.

    So when Chargers officials were asked if North County Times readers could gain some insight into the Williams-Nunnely Hawaiian trek and their heartwarming friendship, the request was shot down faster than you-know-who's hunting companion.

    Never mind that such a story, with Nunnely quoted at length, was available in a Chargers-produced media outlet.

    Schottenheimer's dinosaur policy of not allowing his assistant coaches to speak to the media is a joke and in the distinct minority around the league. All that nonsense about worrying what his coaches might say is hogwash. These are hard-working grown men, who've lapped the football block more than once. Their reward shouldn't be a muzzle.

    You think defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, 58, a three-time former NFL head coach, couldn't handle himself among the media? That receivers coach James Lofton, a Hall of Fame player and Stanford graduate, would be overmatched? That offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, an ex-head coach at Indiana University, couldn't supply depth to a story without ammunition to the enemy?

    In fact, when Cameron interviewed recently for the Texans' head-coaching vacancy, it was mandated he meet with the Houston media. In that give-and-take session, Houston writers ---- as a favor to their San Diego brethren ---- asked questions about the Chargers. It was a rare chance to look at the Chargers through Cameron's eyes.

    The lone time Phillips' and Cameron's mouths weren't taped shut during the 2005 season was during the Chargers' bye week. And kudos go to North County Times columnist Steve Scholfield, for not relenting in his pestering of Schottenheimer to make the Chargers' coordinators available at least once.

    Schottenheimer, who claims he doesn't want to "put out fires" in case his lieutenants misspeak, can run his team any way he wants. We'll even begrudgingly give him a mulligan that an assistant might swallow truth serum and spout the wrong thing at the wrong time during the season.

    At the NFL's biggest game ---- the one with Roman numerals ---- assistant coaches are required to engage with the media. And the game annually comes off without a hitch.

    But we digress. The point is why would the Chargers ---- an organization desperately seeking someday to convince voters to sign off on a new stadium somewhere in San Diego County ---- not let a feel-good story be revealed in the offseason? Especially just before the lion's share of newspaper ink is spilt on chronicling the National League West champion Padres?

    If it's really so abominable for an assistant to speak, why would the club have a double standard? Why let Nunnely communicate with someone on the team payroll and not to North County Times subscribers who pluck down considerable bucks for Chargers tickets, T-shirts and hats?

    Look, Schottenheimer is a lot of things ---- among them, tied with Chuck Knox as the seventh-winningest coach in NFL history. But for Schottenheimer to cling to such a nonsensical policy ---- especially in the offseason regarding an article painting the organization in the finest of lights ---- is well, baffling.

    Anyway, hope you enjoyed your Hawaii trips, Mr. Williams and Mr. Nunnely.

    We'd love to hear about them. But excuse us it we don't lei around waiting for permission.

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