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LaDainian Tomlinson Is a Poor Sport

Despite touting himself as a classy person and growing into the role as the face of the NFL, LaDainian Tomlinson has now proved for the second time that he is a poor sport. The first time was when he called the Patriots classless after losing to them in the playoffs. And now comes the second incident. As I posted at FanHouse, LT made some comments that he wasn’t surprised by allegations that the Patriots cheat. Now that his Chargers lost to the Patriots, Tomlinson has backed off the comments:

The New England Patriots reportedly used LaDainian Tomlinson’s comments earlier this week as motivation. But Tomlinson said last night he did not regret saying, “The Patriots live by the rule, ‘If you’re not cheating you’re not trying.'”

Said Tomlinson: “If you take it personally, then there must be a problem. Everyone knows I was kind of joking.”

Right, easy to say you’re kind of joking now that your squad got embarrassed on Sunday. I think that’s weak on LT’s part. He seems so gracious and classy when things go his way, but comes off as such a poor sport when his team loses. That’s too bad.

Jay Glazer says Chargers have Signed Norv Turner as Head Coach

Foxsports.com NFL writer Jay Glazer, who reported late Sunday night that the Chargers were talking to Norv Turner about making him their new head coach, just confirmed on Out of Bounds on FOX Sports Radio that the San Diego Chargers have finalized a deal to make Norv Turner their new head coach.  Glazer also reported that Norv Turner plans to bring in Ted Cottrell as his defensive coordinator.  Once again, Jay Glazer was right on top of things. 

Was Marty Schottenheimer all jacked up on Mountain Dew?

If you can remember, I’ve been pretty critical of Marty Schottenheimer over the last few months.  Just this week, I wasn’t sympathetic about the Chargers’ firing of Marty.  Previously, I was pretty incredulous that the Chargers lost at home in the playoffs to the Patriots.  Now, I have come across some new information about the Chargers/Patriots game that let’s just say, tells us a little something about what was going on in Marty’s head the day of the loss. 

Sports talk show host Steve Czaban of FOX Sports Radio and WTEM in Washington D.C. told a story on-air this week about an email he received from a trusted source at NFL Films whom he labels “Deep Shield.”  The source “Deep Shield” claims to have insight about some of the in-game conversations between Schottenheimer and his staff.  I’ll let Czabe’s blog tell the rest of the story, starting with the contents of the email Czabe received from “Deep Shield” (and why do I feel like I’m in a James Bond movie?)

I know somebody that had full audio access to that game. What he said, was mind-blowing.

You’ll remember the infamous 4th and 11 call that probably doomed SD in the first quarter. This was the exchange that was heard “down-the-line” between Marty and Cam Cameron.

Marty: We’re going for it.

Cameron: No f’ing way coach, we’re kicking.

Marty: Find a play. We’re going for it.

From then on it was a huge argument with cursing left and right. They had to call a time out and when Rivers came over he said, “What’s going on, why aren’t we kicking the field goal?”

So early in the second quarter, Marty yells into the mic, “Goddamnit, I’m so hyped up someone needs to get over here and calm me down.” So the special teams coach comes over to him and talks to him and Marty says, “I was pulling into the parking lot today and I decided we were going to be aggressive. People don’t think I can be aggressive but I decided driving in that we were going to be.” And the ST coach says, “Coach. You can’t let the outside stuff get to you.”

If this is at all true, and Czaban seems to have a lot of confidence in his source (93% to be exact), then that tells us a lot about Schottenheimer — most of which isn’t surprising.

First, and most importantly, if this is accurate, then it portrays Schottenheimer as someone easily persuaded and unsure of himself.  If this is true, then Schottenheimer clearly let the media influence his game-day decisions. 

Secondly, if this is true, then it portrays Schottenheimer as someone lacking composure — probably not a good trait to have in high pressure situations.  To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if those exchanges took place.  If they did, then it explains a lot about Schottenheimer’s lack of success in the playoffs — times when the pressure is at its all-time highest. 

Keep in mind that I am not reporting that these conversations took place.  Rather, I am just commenting on something presented to me that I find very intriguing.

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Media Pleas for Marty as Victim

Just yesterday I discussed the firing of Marty Schottenheimer by the Chargers. At the time, the most interesting aspect of the firing to me was the sequence of events and how it would result in the futures of the Chargers, Cowboys, and Dolphins (Cowboys hired Wade Phillips, Dolphins hired Cam Cameron) being forever intertwined. Now however, a more interesting twist to this saga is unfolding.

From watching and listening to sports talk shows, and reading various articles, I have mercilessly seen Schottenheimer treated as a victim. The same people who have called Schottenheimer a choke for losing to the Patriots and for “never being able to win in the playoffs” are now taking Marty’s side. I have constantly heard the same two argument over the last 24 hours

  1. How can you fire someone who went 14-2?
  2. How can you do this to Marty after all the jobs have been filled?

To give you an example of argument one, over at ESPN.com they have a little sidebar graphic saying the last time a 14-win coach didn’t return to the team the following year was 80 years ago. If that’s not designed to illicit sympathy then I don’t know what is.

Well, to answer question #1, if you feel that you have the most talented team in the league and that your head coach is holding you back from attaining higher levels, then you have the right to fire him free of criticism (regardless of Schottenheimer’s less than stellar playoff record of 5-13). Dean Spanos (according to his statement) felt that the Chargers could not achieve the levels he hoped for

Events of the last month have now convinced me that it is not possible for our organization to function at a championship level under the current structure.

So that answers media plea for Marty as the victim #1.

As for media plea for Marty as the victim #2, the San Diego Union-Tribune points out what it heard was the reason for the firing (which both Foxsports.com and ESPN.com also report)

According to sources, the final straw occurred yesterday when Schottenheimer wanted to interview his brother Kurt for the defensive coordinator position. Spanos and Smith did not approve, but Schottenheimer held firm in asserting that he had the right to hire his own staff.

From what these reports tell us, Schottenheimer did this to himself by trying to get his brother in as a coach. Additionally, it does not help that Marty did not sign a contract extension when it was presented to him in January. Put those two incidents together and Marty sealed his own fate.

That’s why it annoys me when I read an article by a writer I usually agree with (and hold in high respect) Jason Whitlock, describes Marty’s dismissal as “unfair.”

Peter King in SI titled his column “Chargers mishandled entire Schottenheimer situation.” He wrote,

That’s the way this relationship [hopelessly severed] was a month ago. And Spanos should have made the decision then, when his staff wouldn’t yet have been in tatters.

Jay Glazer on Foxsports.com asked:

The only thing that should come as a shock here in the timing. Why now?

While I respect all three journalists in the highest degree, I must maintain that Schottenheimer did it to himself, not the other way around. Again, if Schottenheimer hadn’t apparently tried to bring his brother in, this probably wouldn’t have happened now.

For the record, I am very impressed by Marty Schottenheimer’s parting comments and the “high road” that he has taken. Additionally, given the fact that he says he has a desire to continue coaching, I think he would have been a great fit for teams stuck in a culture of losing recently, such as the Cardinals and Dolphins. However, I won’t feel bad for Schottenheimer because he did it to himself.

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Tomlinson says Classless Patriots learn from Belichick

LaDainian Tomlinson went to meet some of the opposing players on the field following the game – as is the tradition in the NFL.  However, the post-game show on CBS caught Tomlinson getting into a shoving match with a few Patriots. In his post-game interview on the podium, Tomlinson addressed the shoving, saying it had to do with the Patriots’ celebration following Kaeding’s missed potential game-tying field goal that resulted in a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebration:

“I would never ever react in that way.  You guys know me, I’m a very classy person.  I wouldn’t have reacted like that so yes I was upset.  Because when you go into the middle of our field and you start doing the dance that Shawne Merriman is known for, that’s disrespectful to me.  And I can’t sit there and watch that.  And so yeah, I was very upset.  And just the fact that the way they showed no class at all and maybe that comes from their coach.”

Maybe that comes from their coach?  Hmm, didn’t know Tomlinson had a beef with Belichick, but certainly now we know that he does.  The dance Tomlinson is referring to is Merriman’s “Light’s Out” dance where Merriman acts like he’s pulling the cord to turn off a light bulb.  A couple thoughts there – don’t get upset about other people celebrating when it’s your teammate Merriman who started it.  If you don’t like celebrations, then why isn’t Merriman’s dance disrespectful?  Since Tomlinson isn’t complaining about Merriman’s dance, just the fact that the Patriots did it, this unfortunately becomes a clear case of sour grapes for a guy whose reputation had previously been sterling.  Oh yeah, just a thought my friend John Ramey brought up, are you really classy if it’s a self-proclaimed trait? 

Schottenheimer’s Bolts go down in Flames

14-2, best record in the NFL, top seed in the conference, home field throughout the playoffs.  What does all this buy you?  A 2nd round exit in the playoffs.  They picked off Tom Brady 3 times.  3 times!!  So what went wrong?  I have identified the biggest problems that led to the Chargers blowing the game.

First, the Chargers turned the ball over far too many times.  This includes a bobbled punt by Eric Parker, who tried to scoop the ball up and run with it instead of falling on it after the muff.  It also included an interception by Marlon McCree that would’ve given the Chargers the ball leading 21-13 with under 5 minutes remaining.  Unfortunately McCree fumbled it right back to New England when he tried to run with it.

Second, they committed far too many penalties.  The Chargers were penalized 6 times for 64 yards.  The worst of which was a personal foul by Drayton Florence.  The Pats had a 3rd and 13 at the Chargers 29 – Brady was sacked, fumbled, and the Pats would’ve been out of field goal range where it was recovered.  The Patriots got 15 yards and kicked a field goal to pull them within 1, at 14-13.  Marty Schottenheimer wasn’t very happy about the personal foul penalties following the game:

“The personal foul penalities were very disappointing because what you end up doing there is you put your own personal feelings about a matter you put that ahead of the football team.  It’s things like that that you work to try and resolve particularly with a young player.”   

Third, they had incredible field position in the 1st half and couldn’t cash in.  5 of their drives started at their 35 or better, and all they got was 7 points despite the great starting position.  They continuously were caught in no-man’s land between the 30 and 40 – unsure of what to do. 

Fourth, their ends on both sides of the ball stunk.  Their receivers dropped a ridiculous amount of passes (see Vincent Jackson) and their cornerbacks got burnt.  Specifically, Quentin Jammer was toasted by Reche Caldwell – who prior to Sunday couldn’t beat a parking ticket – on a bomb down the sideline to set up the game-winning field goal. 

Lastly, the clock management (by Philip Rivers) on the last drive of the game was horrendous.  The Chargers only ran 4 plays in 1:05 on their final drive (not counting the spike).  Nate Kaeding clearly didn’t have the leg for a 54 yarder to tie the game – you can’t tell me they couldn’t have used an extra play to get closer.   

Clearly, Schottenheimer’s going to take the brunt of the blame for this one, although if you review the aforementioned points, he is not responsible for a lot of the blunders.  Gotta love his quote after the game:

“Anytime you’re in the playoffs and lose – and certainly I have experience at it, there’s a disappointment. “

Amen.


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Golden Tickets for Chargers Playoff Games?

Taking a page out of the Willy Wonka playbook, the San Diego Union-Tribune buried 10 “golden tickets” in their Sunday papers, causing a frenzy in Daygo. 

“There will be one ticket, the actual ticket to the game, with a coupon for that second ticket.  But the Union-Tribune wants to avoid a frenzy. People shouldn’t form an assembly line to hunt for tickets, nor should you try to snatch a ticket from a winner’s hand.”

They want to avoid a frenzy?  Right, that’s exactly why you creat a promotion as such.  Sources in San Diego said it was complete madness on Sunday – people were out in search of papers like they were giving away free Jessica Alba peep shows.  At least the good sign for Bolts fans is that tickets to a sporting event are finally in demand.  Tickets for Sunday’s game against the Patriots are going for well into the hundreds and even thousands on ebay.


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