A.J. Gets A Payday

Although General Manager A.J. Smith was under contract through the 2009 season, the Chargers have given the sometime maligned front office honcho a 5-year extension. While financial terms weren’t shared, some reports have the deal as up over $10 million.

The indelible Mr. Smith has ruffled a feather or two during his tenure with the Chargers. Hate him or dislike him, A.J. has made his mark not only within the organization but throughout the league.

Once Smith came aboard, the Chargers turned from a 4-12 to a 12-4 team in 2004, earning him the distinction of Executive of the Year from Sportsline.com. From there the Chargers have been division champs 3 out of the last 4 seasons.

Not impressed yet?

Smith was steadfast in the ’04 draft and selected a pouty Eli Manning. The erstwhile Manning was shipped to the New York Football Giants in exchange for quarterback Phillip Rivers, as well as a 3rd round pick that year where they welcomed aboard kicker Nate Keading. The Chargers also received the Giants’ first round pick the following year and obtained linebacker Shawne Merriman. All said and done, a potential draft day debacle worked out just fine down the line for San Diego.

Amidst the accolades it was no secret that former Bolts coach Marty Schottenheimer and Smith weren’t best of friends. They weren’t best of anything. Except for ‘best of partners in a public pissing contest over control of the team’… but I digress. Their chilly relationship culminated with Marty’s dismissal after last year’s playoff upset. A great divide was created amongst Chargers fans.

As the season began anew, the Chargers went 1-3, and chants of ‘Marty’ began rumbling through Qualcomm stadium. A.J. Smith, despite his past prowess, was public enemy numero uno.

Luckily for all involved the Chargers got it together and finished strong, finally meeting the lofty offseason expectations and getting A.J. a contract extension in the process.

It doesn’t really matter if you agree with the decision to fire Marty last year. It doesn’t really matter if you disagree with his negotiating tactics. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like him for some other far flung reason. All that matters is this: the Chargers a better organization with A.J. Smith and the man deserved to get paid for a job well done.

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Tags: A.J. Smith Eli Manning Nate Keading Phillip Rivers Shawne Merriman

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