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Thankfully, Bolts never unleashed this dog

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/07/20/sports/scholfield/22_35_197_19_07.txt" title="North County Times" target="_blank">North County Times</a>

    <span class="byline">By: STEVE SCHOLFIELD - Senior Sports Columnist</span>

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/john_butler.jpg" alt="John Butler" align="left" height="187" width="258" />Thank heaven John Butler was running the Chargers, or Michael Vick would be a San Diego embarrassment.

    The Atlanta Falcons quarterback was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges related to illegal dogfighting.

    Dogfighting? What kind of person would get pleasure out of seeing one dog maul another to death? Apparently Vick and some of his associates, who could get up to six years in prison if convicted.
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    As it is, Vick is an embarrassment to the NFL. But thanks to Butler, the team's former general manager, the only association Vick has to the Chargers is a positive one. The rights to draft him brought superstar running back LaDainian Tomlinson to San Diego.

    Butler, who died of cancer in 2003, was the main reason the Chargers passed on Vick and traded the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft to Atlanta. In one of the all-time steals, the Chargers swapped the rights to the top pick ---- overwhelmingly regarded to be Vick ---- for Atlanta's first choice. The Bolts used that pick to draft Tomlinson.

    The Chargers also got a third-round pick, wide receiver Tim Dwight and a second-round pick the following year.

    I got to know Butler probably better than most writers. Maybe it was because we were about the same age and he trusted me.

    During several of our interview sessions, he confided in me how the Vick-Tomlinson trade went down.

    Now that Butler is gone, I can share some of his thoughts with you.

    Over and over he would tell me, "Vick does not have an NFL arm."

    That has turned out to be true.

    And he doesn't have NFL intellect, either. Some men who play sports can't read their contracts, but put them in the athletic arena, and they are as aware as surgeons are.

    When the Chargers put Vick through a workout before the draft, they were hoping this bundle of natural talent had the ability to understand the complexities of pro football.

    In the NFL, a quarterback must know everyone's assignments and, when needed, adjust accordingly.

    The Chargers gave Vick a simple blackboard test of X's and O's, basic stuff for any quarterback, regardless of experience, coming out of a major college program.

    Butler said to me: "He didn't understand it."

    After what Chargers owner Alex Spanos went through with quarterback Ryan Leaf, Butler knew he wouldn't pick Vick.

    Spanos and club president Dean Spanos told Butler they didn't want to be embarrassed by another quarterback fiasco. If there was any doubt, they said, look elsewhere.

    And after the workout session with Vick, Butler started his campaign, telling everyone that Vick was a great talent. When writers said Vick was the second coming of Steve Young, a franchise player for the next decade, he didn't disagree.

    Privately, he heard that Atlanta was desperate not only for a quarterback but a marquee player who could fill the seats at the Georgia Dome, so he let the Falcons know he would consider giving up the first pick if the price was right.

    Even before Vick's workout, Butler was thinking of Tomlinson. The former Buffalo Bills GM looked at Tomlinson and saw another Thurman Thomas, who had equal skills running and catching the ball.

    But would Tomlinson be there when the Chargers picked fifth? As Butler told me: "The only team I was really worried about was Cleveland at No. 3."

    Arizona, with the second pick, had a good running back in Michael Pittman and took offensive tackle Leonard Davis. Same with Cincinnati at No. 4 with Corey Dillon. The Bengals selected defensive end Justin Smith.

    Cleveland was going with veteran Errict Rhett, who missed most of the previous season with a foot injury.

    They needed a running back, but the Browns figured they needed a stronger defense more, so they picked tackle Gerard Warren.

    Butler made sure this was how the draft was going to fall before making the deal.

    Ironic, isn't it, that two incompetent individuals, Vick and Leaf, had an indirect hand in bringing the NFL's greatest running back to San Diego?

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