The news that San Diego Chargers fans have long waited for is finally here!
According to a report from the U-T San Diego, sources close to the San Diego Chargers organization stated that not only will head coach Norv Turner be let go at the end of the season, but general manager A.J. Smith will be terminated as well.
Chargers fans have begun to rejoice!
Smith's 10-year tenure with the Chargers has seen its share of highlights and lowlights.
Smith was promoted after the untimely death of then general manager John Butler.
Butler and Smith were hired away from the Buffalo Bills. It was thought that Butler could revive the Chargers franchise. He was intstrumental in building a Bills franchise that won six consecutive AFC championships.
According to his bio in the 2012 San Diego Chargers Media Guide, "A.J. Smith has been the architect of the most successful era in Chargers history and is just two wins shy of becoming the team's all-time winningest general manager."
I wonder if he wrote that himself, because the Chargers' performance over the past two season has reflected a completely different story.
Here is another except. I can only laugh.
"Smith has made many notable decisions during his tenure, including the recommendation he made to Spanos that the Chargers hire Norv Turner as head coach."
I wouldn't really call that a notable decision, because we all know how that is playing out.
It is pretty much known that A.J. Smith ran the ship, and if you had a conflict with him of any kind regarding player personnel or coaching staff decisions you were pretty much shown the door.
Just ask Marty Schottenheimer.
To describe the Smith/Schottenheimer relationship would be tumultuous at best.
The real reason I am happy to see Smith goes is because of his player personnel decisions.
Granted, after he first became general manager he did make some great personnel decisions. Smith signed fullback Lorenzo Neal, and offensive lineman Kris Dielman, but his greatest accquistion in 2003 was signing future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates.
The 2004 and 2005 NFL Drafts were also very promising.
Smith drafted Eli Manning with the first overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, but with Manning's unwillingness to play for the Chargers, he was subsequently traded to the Giants for Philip Rivers (the fourth overall pick) a third round pick in 2004, and a first and fifth round pick in 2005.
Smith used the third round pick in 2004 to select Nate Kaeding and the first round pick in 2005 to select Shawne Merriman.
The lowlights of Smith's tenure include:
- Allowing quarterback Drew Brees to test free agency after suffering a torn labrum in the final game of 2005 season. Brees went on to become a Super Bowl MVP and champion with the New Orleans Saints.
- Running back Michael Turner signs with the Atlanta Falcons during free agency in 2008.
- Defensive back Antonio Cromartie, who is one of the best defensive backs in the league was traded to the New York Jets for a third round draft pick in 2011. It was stated that his poor performance and lack of effort during a 2009 playoff game was the reason for his departure, when actually it was his off-field issues that led to his trade. At that time Cromartie had fathered nine children with eight women living in six states.
- Shawne Merriman's off-field issues also led to his departure with the Chargers.
- Vincent Jackson's off-field issues including being cited for driving on a suspended license and having his car impounded before the 2009 AFC Divisional playoff game against the New York Jets also led to his departure as well.
San Diego Chargers president and CEO Dean Spanos released this statement on the Chargers website after announcing the departure of both head coach Norv Turner and A.J. Smith:
I thank A.J. and Norv for the determination and integrity they brought to the Chargers each and every day. Both Norv and A.J. are consummate NFL professionals, and they understand that in this league, the bottom-line is winning. My only goal is the Super Bowl, and that is why I have decided to move in a new direction with both our head coach and general manager positions. I am committed to our great fans, and we will do whatever we possibly can to achieve that goal.
Smith is owed the $4 million remaining on his contract.
According to a report from U-T San Diego, the Chargers will likely promote current Director of Player Personnel Jimmy Raye to the General Manager position. Raye has been with the Chargers for the past 17 years.
John Spanos, the son of Dean Spanos will also see a promotion on the horizon. The younger Spanos is currently the team’s Director of College Scouting. He was being groomed to take over the Chargers’ football operations when Smith's contract expired after the 2014 season, but it looks like it will come sooner than expected.
The question remains, will those who have been Smith's underlings for the past 10 years surpass him, or follow in his footsteps?