Merriman Out in San Diego
Name one Patriot or Colt released by their team who went on to light it up. Or went on to win a Super Bowl, let alone a Super Bowl MVP. You can’t, and neither can I. The Colts and Patriots and other great teams, trade players while they are still at the top of their game, and get something for them. They don’t habitually release players or lose them to free agency the way the Chargers do. Releasing LaDainian Tomlinson was clearly a poor business decision. The Chargers should have traded him a year or two earlier when he was valuable and when they could have received something for him.
After the 2007 season, L.T. had 1949 yds, 60 catches and 18 TDs. The Chargers had Michael Turner on their roster as well. Turner was franchised for $2.35 million. This was the time to trade L.T. – get something for him – and move Turner into the starting position. Eventually, Turner was lost to free agency and rushed for 1699 yds and 17 TDs in his first season with the Falcons.
Hindsight is 20/20, you might say. But is it? Or is that poor team management? Let’s compare the Chargers to the Colts. Colts GM Bill Polian trades players when they still have something left in the tank, and are valuable as trade bait. He traded Marshall Faulk after Faulk’s best season in 1998 (1319 yds). Polian traded Faulk to the Rams and drafted Edgerrin James, with his fourth in the 1999 draft. James was offensive Rookie of the Year. When James was 27, Polian released him after 7 years with the Colts and 4 pro bowls, and the Colts went on to win the Super Bowl. As a nice gesture, Polian sent a Super Bowl ring to Edge in Arizona. James was replaced by Joseph Addai. Last year, as Addai starting piling up injuries, Polian used his draft pick to draft RB Donald Brown.
The fact that the Chargers do not trade valuable players, but wait until they are lost to free agency or released, are clearly poor business decisions. It’s the ownership, stupid. Look at the 49ers. When Eddie DeBartolo owned the team: rings galore. (The fact that the G.O.A.T, Jerry Rice, picked Eddie to do his introduction to the HOF earlier this year speaks volumes.) Once the 49ers were stolen – yes, stolen – by Eddie’s sister, and the running of the team put in the hands of her know-nothing son, the 49ers have languished at the bottom of the league and are currently 0-5.
Eddie DeBartolo was a great owner, and he hired the greatest coach of all time, Bill Walsh. The Colts’ Jim Irsay is a great owner. He hires the best there is: Bill Polian as GM and Super Bowl-winning head coaches. The same goes for Bob Kraft and the Patriots. Great owners hire great General Managers and Head Coaches and then let those knowledgeable men run the team. Not only are the Chargers lacking in leadership in the front office, but their GM and Head Coach aren’t at the top of the list in their professions either. I’m not even convinced the Spanos are interested in winning. Some fans think the Spanos are in it for the tax write-offs. Time will tell. As Coach Herm Edwards likes to say: Winning is the best deorderent.