Saturday, February 25, 2006


Competent Quarterbacks must be falling from the sky these days. They must be, why else would the Chargers allow Drew Brees, the NFL's "Comeback Player of the Year" and a top 4-5 Signal Caller for the past 3 seasons, explore free agency?
The 'Bolts could've designated Brees as the "Franchise" or "Transitional" player, but GM A.J Smith opted not to do so. Had San-D slapped either tag on Brees, the currently injured QB would be guaranteed almost $10-milly' in a 1 year deal. It seems such a price tag is far more than Smith is willing to shell out.
Here's the problem I have with the Chargers' stance, and it ultimately boils down to 1 very simple fact; yes, Brees is hurt- but he suffered a torn labrum playing for the Chargers in the last game of the season. Had Brees injured himself doing something stupid as so many other athletes have, I would better understand the Chargers' position. But here the Chargers are, saying "thanks for playing hard and getting hurt... be we no longer have use for you."
In Smith's remarks to the press about the team's decision to allow Drew to hit the market, he mentioned former North Carolina standout and '04 1st round pick (4th overall) Philip Rivers several times. Although the team claims to be "want Brees to remain a Charger," the multi-year offer Tom Condon received (Brees' agent) was light on guaranteed money and heavy on incentives. Hot off a career-high 3,576 passing yards, good for 6th most in team history, with 24 TDs and 15 picks, one would think that San Diego would be do everything possible to retain Brees. After all, Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon repaired Brees bum shoulder, stated that "this was the best labrum repair I've ever done", and the draft day duo of Brees and RB LaDainian Tomlinson have done nothing but thrive together.

And yet... after reviewing A.J. Smith's remarks, a GM who has amassed a 25-24 record after 3 seasons of management, you get the feeling that Smith's wearing a "cat that swallowed the canary" kinda' grin. In discussing backup QB Philip Rivers, Smith oozes with confidence.
After leading the Chargers to their first post-season berth in over a decade Brees deserves far better treatment, and there's simply no way a new Signal Caller enters the Charger huddle, Brees's huddle, and enjoys the same kind of success.
Brees stated in a recent interview that he "can't imagine what kind of plan God could possibly have for him." Well, I can't read God's mind and wouldn't presume to do so, but A.J Smith's mind? That's a see-through slate; ditch the nicked-up, highly compensated QB and go with a talented youngster who'll command a much smaller salary.
For Drew Brees's sake, I do hope he moves on... to a franchise that will both support him and pay him a wage the nose-to-the-grindstone Field General deserves. Look, all of these guys are overpaid- but in the scheme of things, some work far harder than others... and Drew Brees is one of those guys.

But if you look a bit deeper there's a larger issue here, one that needs to be examined. In NO other business or industry could an employee get hurt on the job... and essentially be fired for it. Yet in the rough and tumble thankless world of the NFL, that's precisely what happens. The Chargers and their GM should be absolutely ashamed of themselves, of that there's no question. Worse still, the NFL Players Association should be ashamed of its collective self. And that, dear readers, is where Brees's buck stops; with the NFL Players Association.


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