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Swagger found only in one locker room

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_4817598">DenverPost.com</a>

    <img width="314" height="209" alt="Stephen Cooper, Chragers linebacker, sacks QB Jay Cutler late third quarter, stopping a Denver drive and making the Broncos settle for a field goal." title="Stephen Cooper, Chragers linebacker, sacks QB Jay Cutler late third quarter, stopping a Denver drive and making the Broncos settle for a field goal." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/061210broncos/JBchrgDen260215x205.jpg" />

    By Mark Kiszia

    San Diego - To the victor not only goes the spoils and the AFC West championship, but the right to talk smack.

    San Diego pummeled the Broncos 48-20. But the Chargers did not stop there. The winners rubbed what they regard as physical and moral superiority in the dejected faces of Denver.

    Where do we start with the smack talk? Forget decorum. Let's begin with San Diego defensive lineman Igor Olshansky, who not only called Denver a bunch of wussies before this showdown, but lived to grin about it.

    "I didn't go shake their hands, and I'm not going to," Olshansky said Sunday.

    Anybody who thinks the most-hated rivals of Denver are the Oakland Raiders did not see Broncos defensive lineman Gerard Warren spit an angry stream of tobacco juice as he contemplated being swept in the season series by San Diego for the first time since 1982.

    Looking for the baddest, cockiest team in the division? It's not the Kansas City Chiefs. No way. The Broncos have lost their swagger. San Diego stole it.

    The Chargers walk the talk, and are not bashful about saying who's best in the West.

    With confidence so unaffected it's hard to call him arrogant, San Diego's Shawne Merriman, who figures to play like "Saw" in the nightmares of rookie Denver quarterback Jay Cutler for weeks, wants to be more than the scariest defender working in the NFL. Merriman intends to go down in history as more frightening than Dick Butkus.

    "I want to be known as the greatest who ever done it, and I'm going to keep working until it's officially said," vowed Merriman, who abused Cutler like a rented donkey, recording two sacks and forcing two fumbles.

    In at least one corner of the victorious locker room, San Diego thought the Broncos had this Shamu-size whipping coming to them.

    Olshansky, as pleasant and unthreatening as a 6-foot-6, 309-pound fellow can be when he's out of uniform, had been itching to get back on the field with Denver since a nasty, on-field confrontation in Colorado last month.

    During the waning moments of that defeat, as then-quarterback Jake Plummer spiked the football to stop the clock, Broncos center Tom Nalen threw a block in the direction of the knees of Olshansky, who responded violently, with a punch. The NFL fined both combatants.

    Nalen "waited for me to turn my head, as he shuffled, and then went for my bad knee," said Olshansky, explaining why he holds a grudge. "Because he had so much malice in his heart, he specifically went across to hurt my leg. In this business, there's no room for that."

    Is Nalen a bad guy? He's a doting father and a loyal teammate. His policy of steadfastly refusing to speak for the record with the media, however, leaves Nalen defenseless when Olshansky attacks the character of Denver's veteran center.

    "This isn't like the UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. If he wants me and him to go in the ring, we could go in the ring. But this is the National Football League," said Olshansky, despite no ugly incidents this time. "I got to feed a family, like he feeds a family. He makes $4 million a year. I make 10 times less than that ... If I were a quarterback, what would have happened to him? Suspended. But I'm a D-lineman.

    "If he doesn't feel bad about it, he doesn't have any conscience."

    With a record of 7-6, in the absence of cold, hard facts, all the Broncos have is faith they can make the playoffs.

    The race for MVP in the league begins and ends with San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Catch him if you can, because the Broncos cannot, having watched L.T. score seven TDs against them this season alone. And it makes Denver grumpy.

    "He's as good as we allow him to be," Warren said. "Where was L.T. last year against the Broncos? Nonexistent. This year, we allowed him to be L.T."

    True to his gambling nature, coach Mike Shanahan twice went for it on fourth down in the final quarter. Twice, Denver failed. Shanahan took those risks, just as he bet on dumping Plummer for Cutler so late in a fading season, for a simple reason. The Broncos have more nerve than ability.

    "X's and O's only matter so much. It really comes down to playing," Denver cornerback Darrent Williams said.

    It's not smack talk by the Chargers that the Broncos are unable to handle.

    The problem is Denver has no answer for San Diego's talent.

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