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Coach: No hard feelings

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.pe.com/sports/football/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_chargers_27.22185b35.html" target="_blank">The Press-Enterprise</a>

    By Jim Alexander

    Revenge is the oldest, easiest and usually most overused story line in sports. When a player or coach gets a chance to go back and face the team that let him go, the average fan might think it matters from a motivational standpoint.

    But, unless it's the rare case where there really is a copious amount of bad blood, athletes and coaches will profess that it means little. Winning is motivation enough, especially in the Darwinian world of the NFL, where victories keep you on the road to the postseason, and too many losses very well could put your paycheck in jeopardy.

    So, then, what to make of Marty Schottenheimer's return to the Washington area with the Chargers today?

    If he wished, Schottenheimer could still be burning about the way his tenure ended with the Redskins. Hired by Dan Snyder in 2001 to get the franchise back on the right track, Schottenheimer rallied his first (and only) Redskins team from an 0-5 start to finish 8-8. But the Redskins missed the playoffs and, when the lure of Steve Spurrier proved too tempting to resist, Snyder changed coaches.

    The experiment with the Ol' Ball Coach, of course, was a disaster, which is why Spurrier is back in the college game at South Carolina and Joe Gibbs is trying to revisit the Redskins' past glory.

    Meanwhile, Schottenheimer has burnished his reputation as rejuvenator of down franchises in San Diego, where his third Chargers team finished 12-4 and his fourth remains in the playoff hunt, shaking off a rough start to put together three straight victories and a 6-4 record.

    There will be little emotion or drama attached to today's return, Schottenheimer said, mainly because his tenure was so short.

    "It was one year, and it was an enjoyable experience," he recalled. "After 0-5, there were a lot of things that could have gone wrong if the guys didn't believe in what they were doing, or if the coach didn't believe in what he was doing. But we stayed the course. Unfortunately, we weren't able to win enough of the last 11 to get into the playoffs, but we were clearly a better team as we moved forward.

    "There were pangs of emotion when I went back to Cleveland for the first time, because I was in Cleveland for nine years (five as a head coach). There were pangs of emotion when I went back to Kansas City for the first time because I was in Kansas City 10 years. But I didn't have much opportunity (to create lasting ties) in one season.

    "I enjoyed a lot of the players there, and we had a good coaching staff. I enjoyed Dan. I got along fine with him. We just didn't have the same vision of how it should be done. And the last time I looked at one of the checks I got from the Redskins, it said Dan Snyder on it. That gives him all the authority he needs."

    Gibbs inherited the task of dealing with the Redskins' mercurial owner when he rejoined the club in 2004, after what seemed to be a successful retirement from coaching as owner of a NASCAR racing team.

    Joe Gibbs Racing seems to be more successful than Joe Gibbs Football at this point, given that Tony Stewart clinched the Nextel Cup championship last week a few hours after the Redskins dropped their second straight and fifth in the past seven, 16-13 to the Raiders.

    "Everybody asked me (how much fun football was for him) last year, and I said that it was fun six times and it wasn't 10 times," Gibbs said in a conference call interview last week. "It depends on whether you're winning or not.

    "I think it's where I'm supposed to be ... I'd sure hate to be sitting around someplace in life later on saying, 'You know, I was supposed to do that again but I didn't have enough guts to do it.' It's like starting all over again. The past buys you nothing."

    Schottenheimer, who came back from a two-year hiatus to take the Washington job in 2001, can identify with Gibbs' itch to get back into the game.

    "In my case I missed the competition," Schottenheimer said. "I went and played golf for two years. I never thought I'd get tired of playing golf, but I did.

    "He had his competition fix, I thought, with car racing, but obviously he had an itch that still needed to be scratched."

    Today the Redskins and Chargers find themselves in similar spots, trying to stay in the playoff race.

    San Diego's key question today concerns tight end Antonio Gates, who injured his right foot last Sunday against Buffalo. Although Gates has practiced, his availability remains a game-day decision.

    "He's one of the big keys to our offense," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "If he can't play, we need someone else to step up. Other guys are going to have to do a little more."
     

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