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ESPN Insider: Chargers GM Vindicated

Discussion in 'American Football' started by RaiderRay, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. RaiderRay

    RaiderRay RIP SD Chargers..F the LA Chargers, Go Irish Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

    Jun 20, 2005

    By John Clayton

    Chargers general manager A.J. Smith received a lot of criticism for making the Eli Manning trade on draft day three years ago. Manning didn't want to go to the Chargers because he and his family didn't believe the Chargers would amount to anything. After taking him with the first pick, Smith boldly made a trade that may go down in history as one of the greats of all-time.

    Smith's success was chronicled during the Pro Bowl voting. Quarterback Philip Rivers, linebacker Shawne Merriman and kicker Nate Kaeding all made it as starters. That's three Pro Bowlers for one player, and the timing of this couldn't be better for the Chargers. Manning didn't finish in the top six for NFC quarterbacks even though he had a playoff season in his first year as a full-time starter and is in the playoff hunt this year.

    Smith was the big winner in Tuesday's voting. He had nine Chargers make the Pro Bowl, a league high. Five more made it as top alternates, including three -- left tackle Marcus McNeill, guard Kris Dielman and punter Mike Scifires -- as first alternates. All three were drafted by Smith. Defensive end Luis Castillo ended up as a second alternate and probably would have challenged for a Pro Bowl spot had he not missed about a month with a high ankle sprain. Linebacker Shaun Phillips was also a second alternate.

    At 12-2, the Chargers ended up as the team with the most talent, according to fans, coaches and players.

    Brown out of Pro Bowl: One player who probably deserved more consideration was Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez were the expected AFC Pro Bowl tight ends. Todd Heap of the Ravens is an alternate.

    Obviously, Winslow lost out for three reasons, even though he led all tight ends with 76 catches. First, he was on a bad team. Second, he angered the Steelers right before the voting with a cheap shot on linebacker James Farrior. Third he averaged only 9.9 yards a catch and had only three touchdowns. He needs more impact to play with the top tight ends in the conference.

    Young man's game: How fast is Vince Young rising in the AFC? With a 7-4 record, Young, a candidate for offensive rookie of the year, ended up as one of the top alternates in the AFC Pro Bowl voting for quarterback.

    Considering the AFC has the elite quarterbacks -- Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Tom Brady -- that's quite an honor. After all, Brady had a 10-win season and he couldn't get to the Pro Bowl. To finish among the top three alternates in this conference is an amazing achievement. Presumably, Brady is the first alternate after losing out to Palmer of the Bengals.

    Best of the rest: Fred Taylor of the Jaguars may go down as one of the greatest players to never make the Pro Bowl. Taylor was the AFC's first alternate to the Pro Bowl with his 1,120-yard season and 5-yard-per-carry average.

    Taylor is 21st on the all-time NFL rushing list with 9,563 yards. Yet he's never had that one season that earned him a trip to Hawaii. The only way he goes this year is if LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson or Willie Parker decides to skip the game.

    Tank parked in Chicago: The Bears were ready to cut defensive tackle Tank Johnson even though it would be a problem to do so because of the collective bargaining agreement. Legally, though, it's hard to cut a player for making a bad decision to go out to a club on a Friday night and watch his bodyguard get shot trying to stop a fight.

    The Bears decided to give him a second chance when he came to them with a long list of ways he's going to change his life. He will be suspended for this week's game and may be able to play in the season finale as long as he cleans up his life.

    Not feelin' the heat: The Seahawks finally had power return to their headquarters late Monday night. Following last Thursday's 24-14 loss to the 49ers, 1.5 million homes in the Seattle area lost power, and Seahawks headquarters was one of them.

    On Monday, engineers prioritized the generators so coaches could do their prep work for the Chargers game and for employees to use computers. But there was no heat. Employees had to wear coats and gloves to get through the day.
  2. montanabolthead

    montanabolthead BoltTalker

    Sep 16, 2006
    I don't think AJ really cares if ESPN has vindicated him. I think our record has done that, plus the play of Rivers, Merriman and Kaeding. Acorsi and Company must be living on Rolaids each week. Thanks Archie!:bolt2:

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