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5 Good Reasons San Diego Chargers Fans Hate A.J. Smith
Though he remarkably kept his job on Tuesday, Norv Turner has been on the hot seat for quite some time.
General manager A.J. Smith, however, has flown under the radar of national scrutiny - until now. It is worth taking a look back at some of his biggest missteps, both in the draft and beyond, that have caused fans to loathe the man known in San Diego as the "Lord of no Rings".
1. First round blunders
What do Larry English, Buster Davis, and Sammy Davis all have in common? They are all players Smith drafted in the first round who turned out to be non-impact players. Outside of the 2004 NFL Draft, where Eli Manning was selected with the first overall pick, then traded away for Philip Rivers and the picks that would eventually land Nate Kaeding and Shawne Merriman, Smith has had mediocre to downright awful drafts. This holds especially true in the first round. Clay Matthews, Sidney Rice, and Troy Polamalu would have looked awfully nice in Chargers' uniforms if Smith hadn't passed on them to acquire the players mentioned above.
2. Disrespect of a legend
One of the most tragic PR disasters in Chargers history was the debacle that came in the events surrounding the departure of LaDainian Tomlinson from San Diego. To be in southern California during the L.T. era was to witness history, and the things he did for the Chargers' organization both on and off the field did not warrant such mistreatment. Where did Smith go wrong? He blatantly mocked Tomlinson. That was inexcusable and unforgivable treatment toward someone who will walk right off the field and into the Hall of Fame one day. Tomlinson was the ultimate example of class as a Charger.
3. Firing Marty Schottenheimer
This particular topic is still polarizing among Chargers fans. However, hindsight is 20-20. The bottom line is that Norv Turner has not been better than Schottenheimer, who was 14-2 prior to being let go because of a personal conflict with Smith. This decision came with a certain expectation that the next coach, who wound up being Turner, would lead the Chargers to a Super Bowl.
Schottenheimer was one boneheaded play away from seeing his best team have a legitimate chance at a Super Bowl berth. That would be frustrating for any fan to swallow.
4. Hardball negotiating with free agents
Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill could have helped the Chargers to a few more wins in 2010. No one will ever know for certain if having them in camp from day one would have put the Chargers into the playoffs. Though agents often overvalue their clients, A.J. Smith is the man who was stalwart and took the negations to a personal level, repeatedly calling out the agents of both players and making the whole scenario very public. Letting Darren Sproles walk following that very same season is looking like yet another bad mistake given his monster season in 2011 with the New Orleans Saints.
General Managers of NFL franchises are like umpires and officials. The fan base should not know their names, period. Why is it, then, that every Chargers fan in San Diego is begging for his head? The answer is simple. There is simply too much of A.J. Smith to go around. Each and every year, he finds himself in the news for all the wrong reasons. Usually, it involves an excuse for awful decision-making or as in the case of Tomlinson, disrespecting a player who doesn't deserve it. Every man has an ego, but Smith's is in plain sight for all of the NFL to see.
Can you really blame fans for wanting him out of their lives forever?
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and southern California native, following all developments across the NFL and with the San Diego Chargers.
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