Posts Tagged ‘LaDainian Tomlinson’

The NFL draft begins Thursday and I am noticing I’m not really looking forward to it.

That’s an odd feeling in that I covered the draft as a professional more than a dozen times at either the professional or college level. And always made sure my Saturdays were clear to watch it prior to that well before this decade’s dumb three-day format.

Analyzing things, I can see why I’m not all that interested in the 2017 NFL draft.

That’s because this is the first draft in my lifetime in which my hometown doesn’t have an NFL team.

Not the least bit interested in who the Los Angeles Chargers pick. Geez, it is hard writing that city’s name before Chargers.

The Chargers belong to San Diego, not the smog clowns and silicone fakes of Los Angeles. The draft is really the first time a big NFL event happens in which the Chargers aren’t referred to as “San Diego Chargers.”

When Roger Goodell reads that phrase off the cue card as the Chargers make their first-round pick, it is a loud reminder to the football world that San Diego is no longer an NFL town.

Dean Spanos had ample opportunities to make it work in San Diego and didn’t have the big-boy leadership abilities to make it happen. Good riddance to him and his poorly run organization.

That is where we will miss the draft — mocking the Chargers for their sad first-round picks.

The lousy picks roll off the tongue easily — receiver Walker Gillette in 1970, running back Leon Burns in 1971, fullback Bo Matthews in 1974, cornerback Mossy Cade in 1984 (Google him to see what a total reject he is) and the biggest draft bust of all-time in quarterback Ryan Leaf in 1998.

There are many other busts — one of my favorites being receiver Craig “Buster” Davis in 2007. I called up Davis’ receivers coach at LSU while writing a profile story and got greeted with all kinds of criticisms of Davis’ desire, toughness and inability to stay healthy.

Guess what Davis was known for during his 26 total games over four seasons with the Chargers? Yep, low desire, no toughness, always injured.

During Davis’ second season, I already wrote song lyrics about him called “Wasted Draft Pick,” to the tune of Rod Stewart’s “Infatuation.”

Great pick, A.J. Smith! Might want to talk a player’s position coach before you select him.

Of course, there were superb first-round picks over the years too — defensive tackle Gary “Big Hands” Johnson in 1975, tight end Kellen Winslow in 1979, defensive end Leslie O’Neal in 1986, linebacker Junior Seau in 1990, running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 and the great quarterback maneuver of 2004 when Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers but Smith drafted him anyway before working out a trade with the New York Giants for Philip Rivers.

General manager Tom Telesco has fared well in the first round of the last three drafts with cornerback Jason Verrett, running back Melvin Gordon and defensive end Joey Bosa.

The Chargers select seventh this time around so they are positioned well to land another good talent.

But there will be a different feeling when Telesco makes his pick.

You see, these aren’t the San Diego Chargers anymore. So it no longer is a big deal if the team scores with its pick or lands another bust.

Perhaps that is why the draft’s appeal isn’t there for me this year. My hometown doesn’t have a team and the fun is gone.

You see, I could care less if a team from Los Angeles messes up its draft.

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey plays in the final game of his standout career on Saturday and he should be recognized as the all-time leading rusher in college football history when it ends.

But alas, that won’t be entirely true.

The NCAA is a weirdo organization and it doesn’t recognize bowl statistics if they are from before 2002. But eventually, the NCAA is going to come to its senses and count those games.

Even that group of people won’t be dumb forever, right?

So come Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl, Pumphrey (6,290) needs 108 rushing yards against a tough Houston Cougars’ defense to surpass Ron Dayne (6,397) as the all-time record holder. But he really needs to gain 836 yards if he wants to keep the record.

Count Dayne’s bowl games and the Wisconsin star — who played from 1996-99 — rushed for 7,125 yards.

Pumphrey may get the record Saturday to cap off a fantastic career but he will only be renting it.

Here is the stellar Las Vegas Bowl preview — http://www.albanyherald.com/sports/las-vegas-bowl-capsule/article_3e2232c7-43c3-5573-a907-b154c71c1d26.html

 

The San Diego Chargers are playing their next-to-last game in San Diego on Sunday as there won’t be a January reprieve this time around.

The team is off to Los Angeles, which means Dean Spanos gets to play second fiddle to Kroenke the Donkey (Rams owner Stan Kroenke) until the end of time. Or a shorter time span if Donald Trump learns where the bomb buttons are hidden.

Regardless, rubbing salt in the wounds of San Diego sports fans is this nugget: The Oakland Raiders can clinch a playoff spot by beating the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.

Now that really hurts.

Oakland is on the verge of ending a 14-year playoff drought and has one of the top quarterbacks in the game in Derek Carr and one of the elite pass rushers in defensive end Khalil Mack. The Raiders can make some noise in the postseason too.

But Chargers’ fans don’t want to see this clinching, that’s for sure. There are already enough bad memories with the Raiders — Stabler to Banaszak to Casper rates as the worst and the 1980 AFC title game is right behind — and Oakland celebrating a playoff berth on the field once home to Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Junior Seau and LaDainian Tomlinson would be one final act of rubbing it in the faces of San Diegans.

The Chargers may be goners but San Diego’s intense hate of the Raiders will live on.

Here is the stellar Raiders-Chargers preview (back to the New York Times link!) — http://nytimes.stats.com/fb/preview.asp?g=20161218024

Melvin Gordon wasn’t very impressive as a rookie so naturally a lot of people wondered whether he was on his way to being a bust.

Pretty sure that topic has been squashed by the performance of the San Diego Chargers running back this season.

Gordon has already passed last season’s total for rushing yards (646) and ranks third in the NFL with 768 yards entering Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

Even more eye-opening is that he leads the NFL in touchdowns with 11 (nine rushing, two receiving).

Do you remember all those touchdowns Gordon scored last season? Can you recall even one?

You certainly can’t because Gordon didn’t score a single one. It was like Donald Trump built a wall and nobody with the last name of Gordon was able to gain access to the end zone.

And he kept fumbling the ball to make matters worse.

But coach Mike McCoy has gone from being a doubter to a full-fledged supporter of Gordon, who announced his budding star status with 196 rushing yards against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday.

That output ranks ninth in Chargers’ history. The great LaDainian Tomlinson holds the single-game record of 243.

Speaking of 200-yard rushing performances, Miami has an emerging star as well in Jay Ajayi, also in his second season. Ajayi has a college-like 529 rushing yards over the past three games, including becoming just the fourth player in the NFL history to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back games.

Sure made an easy preview angle for me, I can say that. Here is the stellar Dolphins-Chargers preview (and let’s say that I had no idea my work was running in the New York Times. Wow.) — http://nytimes.stats.com/fb/preview.asp?g=20161113024

 

 Feels weird to type this but the Los Angeles Clippers have been the most impressive team in the NBA over the first two-plus weeks of the season.

The Clippers (7-1) were hard-pressed to win seven games in two-plus months during most of their San Diego tenure.

But coach Doc Rivers has them playing superb defense and that is translating to victories heading into Friday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Clippers are allowing just 88.3 points per game and everybody is buying in. Chris Paul is healthy and playing solid defense. Blake Griffin is healthy and enjoying playing defense. And DeAndre Jordan, of course, is playing superb defense.

Way too early to predict whether or not the Clippers are finally going to hurdle their playoff hiccups but know this: They routed the San Antonio Spurs by 24 points in San Antonio last Saturday. You might recall the Spurs went 40-1 at home this season.

The Clippers try to avenge their lone loss of the season when they visit Oklahoma City. Here is the stellar Clippers-Thunder preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/nba/event/2016/944815/preview/

 

Michigan has a promising quarterback in sophomore Wilton Speight and it is time to share an interesting story that I have heard a few times this season.

In the spring of 2015, shortly after Jim Harbaugh took over as coach, HBO was filming a special and Harbaugh brutally ripped one of the quarterbacks.

Oh, they blocked out the kid’s face and number but that didn’t help too much in this case. You see, Speight is 6-foot-6.

Michigan only had one tall quarterback like that.

The worst line from Harbaugh was this: “If you want to look at me with that look, go (expletive) somewhere else.”

Speight thought really hard about doing that all summer long. He eventually decided against transferring.

Now fast forward to 2016 and Speight is playing tremendous football for a 9-0 squad ranked third in the nation.

Sometimes the best move a kid can make is to, well, not make a move. He stayed put and it worked out well.

You can find more detail in the stellar Michigan-Iowa preview — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/College-Football/2016/11/09/Michigan-vs-Iowa-College-football-game-preview/2041478697219/

  

Somehow it is already college basketball season and the campaign commences on Friday night.

One of the numerous tip-offs involves No. 13 Gonzaga, a program that lost stars Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis from a 28-8 team.

But no worries, the transfer wagon paid Spokane, Wash., a visit and dropped off three pretty good players. So instead of a transition season in which the Bulldogs would roll through their weak conference but stumble against more powerful foes, Gonzaga is in terrific shape.

Former Washington standout Nigel Williams-Goss is the new point guard, former California 3-pointer bomber Jordan Mathews will be the new shooting guard and former Missouri power forward Johnathan Williams will be a fierce inside threat.

I remember being surprised Williams-Goss was leaving Washington. He was one of the top players in Pac-12 as a sophomore. Point guards on overmatched opponents such as Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount and Portland are probably already worried about guarding him.

Then the Zags have 7-foot-2 center Przemek Karnowski back. His career was supposed to be over last season but a back injury that required surgery limited him to just five games and he received a medical redshirt season.

Those four players combine with sophomore guard Josh Perkins to give Gonzaga a pretty solid lineup. The Zags won’t be taking a step back this season. Mark Few will once again have a good team.

Here is the stellar Utah Valley-Gonzaga preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaab/event/2016/946360/preview/top25/

The Spanos family plane sits on the runway in San Diego on Wednesday.

The Spanos family plane sits on the runway in San Diego on Wednesday. Photo credit – Secret airport source.

 

So for one last time the “San Diego Chargers” will take the field.

Probably never to be referred to in that way again on a football field.

Sunday’s road game against the Denver Broncos will likely mark a sad end for a franchise that was adored by San Diegans for most of the past five-plus decades. And the only reason why enthusiasm dimmed this season was due to the club’s actions.

The stage was set when owner Dean Spanos made it clear he wanted to move the team. Proposals by the city of San Diego were scoffed at by Spanos and team spin doctor Mark Fabiani.

Instead of looking at a way to make things happen, Spanos and Fabiani repeatedly pointed out why the city’s proposals for a new stadium wouldn’t work.

Regardless, the City of San Diego submitted its proposal to build a $1.1 billion stadium for the team to the NFL on Wednesday. It’s a last-ditch effort by the city to keep the team but Spanos isn’t listening.

He is ready to apply for relocation as soon as Monday and is hoping to gain approval to move the team on either Jan. 12 or 13 when the league’s owners meet in Houston.

All along, Spanos has been working his fellow owners behind the scenes in hopes of approval to move the franchise.

Spanos envisions playing at a stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. The greed of an NFL owner knows no limits and once the St. Louis Rams began looking at moving to Los Angeles, Spanos couldn’t help himself.

His greedy hands kept picturing the possibility of adding billions of dollars to his family’s net worth.

And now he is just a couple of weeks away from having his wish granted.

Once approval occurs, a team that began playing in San Diego in 1961 will flat-out vanish.

Too bad Spanos couldn’t just vanish and leave the team alone.

Good on-field play certainly disappeared this season as poor Philip Rivers has tried to carry a team with little talent. The squad carries a 4-11 record into the season finale as coach Mike McCoy continues to make poor decisions and display that he should be an offensive coordinator and not an NFL head coach.

The Chargers aren’t part of the playoff field for the fifth time in six seasons and this year’s record is the franchise’s worst since 2004.

Of course, winning has never been a Spanos specialty. The Chargers have made the playoffs only nine times in 32 seasons under the family’s ownership.

They were the owners for the team’s lone Super Bowl appearance when San Diego was smashed by the San Francisco 49ers following the 1994 season.

But coach Bobby Ross and general manager Bobby Beathard couldn’t get along and Spanos showed Ross the door after the 1996 season.

And they certainly were in position to reach the Super Bowl in the middle of last decade but again the lack of top-flight leadership by Spanos curtailed the possibility.

San Diego recorded a franchise-best 14-2 mark in 2006 but was ousted in the opening round of the playoffs by the New England Patriots. Once again, the coach and general manager didn’t know how to communicate and Spanos kept hard-nosed GM A.J. Smith and sent coach Marty Schottenheimer packing.

Spanos termed the situation as “dysfunctional” and apparently wasn’t smart enough to figure out his lack of a spine over the previous two seasons was a major factor. What leader would allow two of the most crucial people in the organization to go that long without talking?

Making the whole situation sadder is that the Chargers then hired Norv Turner as coach. Handing a team built to win a championship to a mediocre coach and leader assured the Chargers would miss their championship window – and they did.

Spanos will arrive in Los Angeles with a lousy football team and that isn’t going to help matters.

Know this: USC is the preferred football team in Los Angeles and there is no chance of the Chargers ever surpassing the Trojans when it comes to popularity.

Spanos also has to fire McCoy. You can’t arrive in Los Angeles with that kind of guy as your coach. He also needs a different public relations staff as having a staff in which the top two guys are lifetime wimposauras is going to be a detriment to doing PR properly in the multi-dimensional Los Angeles market.

Taking the history to Los Angeles will be awkward. You just can’t have Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts or LaDainian Tomlinson show up to wave to the crowd of a city that never watched them play.

Not to mention honoring the “Air Coryell” era or Junior Seau’s tremendous tenure or the franchise’s 1963 AFL title. Kellen Winslow’s performance in the epic playoff game in Miami on Jan. 2, 1982 certainly will never feel like a “Los Angeles” thing.

Added up, it’s just an all-around uncomfortable feel. A greedy owner didn’t get his way in San Diego so he is going to pick up his football team and move it 100-plus miles up the road.

The team will be missed for sure. The ownership won’t be.

And with his two overmatched sons lined up to run the team, the long-standing tradition of Spanos-led teams losing will surely continue.

Good luck, Los Angeles. And brace yourself for decades of buffoonery.

I can still recall hearing the news that Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon got injured in 1984 and would be sidelined with a lacerated kidney.

That injury occurred well before the days of the Internet – your home phone was the only way people could find you back then – so a friend and I headed over to the local bookstore to learn the meaning.

The second I saw the word “sliced” I suddenly felt real bad for McMahon, who was then one of the biggest jerks in pro sports.

I kept picturing a kidney being sliced and I would just cringe.

Well, lacerated kidney is back in the sports vernacular as San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen is done for the season. Yep, he suffered a lacerated kidney during Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The injury cuts short what was on pace to being a historic season for Allen, the third-year pro who has gone from being a third-round draft steal in 2013 to one of the NFL’s top receivers.

Allen had 67 receptions in eight games before leaving Sunday’s game at halftime due to the injury. The catches tie for third-most in NFL history over a team’s first eight games.

Atlanta’s Julio Jones (70 this season) and former Indianapolis standout Marvin Harrison (69 in 2002) are the only players to have more.

Another way to put Allen’s fabulous half season in perspective is this: He had 71 receptions during a fantastic rookie campaign in 2013 and then increased that to 77 catches last season.

He was not only on pace to shatter his personal high but he also was going to obliterate the Chargers franchise mark of 100 receptions by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2003.

But now Allen’s season is over. It ended with an acrobatic 13-yard touchdown catch in which he landed awkwardly and remained on the turf for several minutes.

Allen’s loss rates as a blow for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who has been outstanding with 2,753 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has deep bonds with tight end Antonio Gates and receiver Malcom Floyd but has quickly built a fabulous rapport with Allen.

Judging by ownership intentions, Allen might have played his final game during the organization’s San Diego tenure. Team president Dean Spanos is working as hard as possible to get the franchise permission to move to Los Angeles.

That would leave San Diegans to remember Allen as the guy who lacerated his kidney as they cringe inside and feel phantom pain near their own kidneys.

There’s just something awful about that term: lacerated kidney.

Didn’t like it when it happened to Jim McMahon and don’t like it now as the situation plays out with Keenan Allen.

Sarah Stephens won the amateur all-around title for mule riding with Lizzy.

Sarah Stephens won the amateur all-around title for mule riding with Lizzy.

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Sydney Seau tried hard not to get emotional but that was just not an attainable goal.

Not in Canton, Ohio on a memorable Saturday night. Not when it came to presenting her late father for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 22-year-old daughter of NFL great Junior Seau was allowed to speak at the induction ceremonies after originally being informed she wouldn’t be allowed to do so. Public pressure helped change that decision.

Sydney Seau undoubtedly had to agree not to bring up the fact that her father’s suicide was likely due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease that has robbed many players of a quality life after football.

A minute of silence was held for Junior Seau but shhhhhh – let’s not talk about how the San Diego Chargers’ legend died at the age of 43 in 2012.

To me, the saddest part of the night is that Seau – one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history – wasn’t around to enjoy it. He gave his life to football and he deserved to be standing at the podium giving one of his knockout speeches.

I covered him for six seasons at a time when he was at the top of his game and his determination was unmatched. Whether the Chargers were going to their lone Super Bowl or suffering through a 1-15 campaign with dog-meat talent, he was giving his all even in practices.

I’ve seen it written several times over the past few years that Seau never had a concussion. I know that isn’t true.

You know how NFL teams currently fudge on their injury reports? Just think was it was like in the 1990s when there wasn’t as much scrutiny.

I vividly recall one week during the time I was covering Seau that he was invisible all week. Everything to do with Seau was hush-hush and nobody saw him during the media availability sessions, which was a real oddity since Seau was usually eager to get his television time.

Seau played on Sunday and everybody moved on. But I suspected at the time that he had a concussion – which had yet to develop into a big deal in the football world – and the Chargers were doing all they could to keep it quiet.

Of course, NFL teams lie all the time. Remember all the fibbing the Chargers did per their player injuries leading up to playing the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in Jan. 2008?

The club opened up LaDainian Tomlinson for nationwide criticism by fudging about the seriousness of his knee injury. Team president Dean Spanos had no problem lying to my face over the fact that Philip Rivers had a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury and had undergone knee surgery earlier in the week. Norv Turner also looked into my eyes and denied that kicker Nate Kaeding had a broken bone in his leg.

So yeah, the last people you want to believe about anything are the Chargers. Soon to be known as the Los Angeles Chargers.

The NFL office is just as bad. And with the Seau family having a pending lawsuit against the league, you could see why there was reluctance to allow Sydney Seau to speak.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame cited a policy that was enacted several years back for the original decision. But both the Hall and the NFL eventually got it right by giving Sydney Seau more than enough time to speak about her father – both in the video on him and then on stage after his bust was unveiled.

Think of all the pressure on young Sydney as she was speaking in front of thousands of strangers about her late father. Then realize how eloquently she painted a picture of all things Junior – father, football player, community icon – and there’s nothing to do but tip your cap.

Pretty sure Junior was looking down – and was just as proud of his daughter as she is of him.

Stephen Curry has emerged as a bona fide star over the past two seasons but now he has a chance to hit the megastar platform.

Being named regular-season MVP of the NBA boosted him up another level and now he is about to embark on the NBA Finals stage for the first time when the Golden State Warriors face the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Take down the Cavs and a guy named LeBron James and Curry’s stock – on and off the court – goes skyrocketing to a new stratosphere.

It’s a good stage to be on for sure and more and more people have caught on that one of the faces of the NBA is a 6-foot-3 guard who was once passed over by all the major colleges and ended up being a major star at tiny Davidson College.

Of course, the slaps in the face continued on the night of the NBA Draft when the Minnesota Timberwolves picked some guy named Jonny Flynn – don’t Google him, not in the league – over Curry. That act of stupidly explains perfectly while the Timberwolves are indeed the Timberwolves.

So it has been a charming story to see Curry drain 3-pointers from all areas of the court and evolve into one of the top players in the NBA. His wife and daughter receive plenty of TV time as do his parents – father Dell played 16 seasons in the NBA – and the endorsement opportunities are rolling in.

His image is spotless.

Uh oh, did I say spotless?

Here is where the worrying begins: Are we seeing the real Stephen Curry or will he become the next athlete to combust at some point?

Too many times, we have been fooled by an athlete that appears to be an outstanding person and then we learn of some shady acts or despicable behavior.

Who saw the Tiger Woods sex harem scandal coming? A married man totally crafting his family image and Tiger was stripped down – pun intended – and exposed (yeah, also intended) and funny how his golf game also went into decline as his personal life did.

Who can forget Kobe Bryant being accused of rape in 2003? It was stunning a big-time star like him would even be in such a position and it has forever stained his legacy. Bryant didn’t serve jail time but he did apologize for his actions and he also settled a civil suit with the accuser, which is the athletes’ way of buying out of the crime.

And whatever was more stunning than the O.J. Simpson murder case? His ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ron Goldman were slaughtered by one of the all-time greatest running backs in football history. (Sorry, not using the word allegedly since he didn’t back up his boast that he would look for the real killers). I will never forget the surreal scene of a guy going from being totally beloved to being viewed as a totally despised monster in a matter of days. The White Bronco – not you Peyton Manning — lives on.

We could talk about disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong for hours. He was always a jerk, always treated people rudely, lied through his teeth all the time about his juicing and really has no redeeming positive qualities. Think of that, he is such a rotten apple that he doesn’t even belong in a good athletes turn into buffoons discussion.

New faces pop on the scene each year. Ray Rice was hailed as a great guy in the community before he smacked his then-fiance in the elevator and dragged her out like a carcass of meat. And how about Adrian Peterson beating his young child with a switch? I shook hands with Peterson once and my hand was sore for two hours so I can’t even imagine somebody of his unbelievable strength brutally whipping their son like that.

So this is what we are asking of Curry – don’t turn into a buffoon someday. Don’t become a moron. Don’t be living a secret life where you are scoring out of wedlock and eventually one gets pregnant. Don’t punch anyone in your family. Don’t be a fraud.

Seems like easy stuff to achieve but too many athletes fail at it. Though I’m from San Diego and two of the biggest stars in the city’s sports history had no troubles being good citizens with impeccable reputations.

Guys named Tony Gwynn and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Curry is on the same path as those two legends and let’s see if he can keep it up. The image is spotless, his popularity is out-of-control high and he’s one of the top outside shooters the league has ever seen.

And now he has an NBA title to chase and we can all sit back and watch the Curry vs. LeBron show. Should be an entertaining NBA Finals.

And let’s hope we are still talking about this Stephen Curry being a real good guy a decade from now.

All that bluster about Philip Rivers being dealt to the Tennessee Titans turned out to be unfounded chatter.

Turns out it was allegedly started by a writer at UT San Diego – which is typically the first sign there is little validity to a report.

When you aren’t properly aligned with inside sources – and the general manager doesn’t trust you – you tend to swing and miss more often than Mike Trout in the playoffs.

The San Diego Chargers never intended to trade their productive quarterback for the No. 2 overall pick and the chance to draft Marcus Mariota. The Titans didn’t deal the pick at all and went ahead and selected Mariota.

The Chargers are on their way to Los Angeles and they really need to have a solid season before moving to the land of smog. San Diego has failed to make the playoffs in four of the past five seasons – a pitiful fact when you consider the talent the franchise has had – and relocating after a losing season wouldn’t help prompt the fickle Los Angeles area to rejoice over the team’s arrival.

So Rivers is badly needed to be at the helm and not a novice rookie that may or may not be prepared to start in the NFL. The tough part will be convincing Rivers to sign a contract extension but there is something about making $20 million a year that causes one to do something they might not originally be thrilled about.

Don’t think so? Offer me $200,000 a year and you’ll be surprised at the places I’m suddenly ready to call home.

That includes Arkansas and North Dakota … yikes, did I just type that?

Anyway, the Chargers kept their quarterback and moved up to No. 15 overall to select running back Melvin Gordon, the standout from Wisconsin.

The pick is solid – and will forever be known as the final first-round pick by the “San Diego Chargers” – but I don’t understand why the Chargers dealt two future draft picks to the San Francisco 49ers to move up two spots. Sounds like there was some fear the 49ers might trade the pick elsewhere and another team would land Gordon.

Regardless, Gordon should be a much better NFL player than the departed Ryan Mathews and also is a much better option than journeyman Donald Brown. Gordon averaged 7.8 yards per carry in his college career and rushed for a then-record 408 yards in one game last season against Nebraska, breaking a mark set by LaDainian Tomlinson.

You might recall Tomlinson. The Chargers haven’t had a bona fide back since the future Hall of Famer left town.

Gordon should solve that problem. There are questions about his receiving ability but let’s face it: The Badgers weren’t telling a guy averaging nearly eight yards per carry to go run flare routes. You hand the ball off to a guy like that.

There is a reason why the guy rushed for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. He can play.

He should be a force over the next six to eight years. Of course, the question will soon become where he plays those games.

For now, he goes into the books as the final first-round pick of the San Diego Chargers. And quite a good one at that.

 

I covered a game in 2008 when the San Diego Chargers were blanked in the first half by the Oakland Raiders and later scored 25 fourth-quarter points to pull out an improbable victory.

But the Chargers had a secret weapon that sunny day in Oakland five years ago and it had nothing to do with LaDainian Tomlinson running wild in the second half.

Yep, Lane Kiffin was coaching the Raiders that day. It was his final game before being fired.

Kiffin wasn’t in the facility this time around as the Chargers committed five turnovers and put up a substandard performance while digging themselves a huge hole in a 27-17 loss to the Raiders late Sunday night.

The game ended at 11:40 Pacific time – 2:40 a.m. Monday morning in the East – due to the time being moved back because of the Oakland Athletics being involved in the major-league baseball playoffs.

And for two-thirds of the contest, it appeared that only the Raiders were interested in playing at the late hour.

Oakland was strong at the outset and quickly built a 17-point lead. The Chargers were so dreadful over the first 2 1/2 quarters that you would’ve thought Otis Sistrunk, Matt Millen and Lester Hayes were back on the Oakland defense.

Then Nick Novak had a field-goal attempt blocked with under six minutes left in the quarter. But instead of the Raiders taking over, backup tight end Ladarius Green scooped up the ball behind the line of scrimmage – making it eligible to be run with – and notched a first down.

The Chargers eventually got on the board a minute later on a Novak field goal and the late-night weirdness took another turn against San Diego when Danny Woodhead fumbled and Charles Woodson – yes that ancient defensive back who entered the NFL the same year (1998) the Chargers selected Ryan Leaf – scooped it up and ran 25 yards for his 13th career defensive touchdown to make it 24-3.

But signs of a comeback picked up when Philip Rivers threw touchdown passes to Woodhead and Keenan Allen in the first five minutes of the final quarter to make it a seven-point game.

Perhaps history would repeat itself but as quickly as Sebastian Janikowski could boot a 50-yard field goal from second base, the comeback was derailed.

Rivers was intercepted twice in the final two minutes – that made a season-high three for the game – and the Chargers now take a 2-3 record into a Monday night contest with the fearsome Indianapolis Colts.

“We had every opportunity at the end there and that says a lot about the character of the football team after being down 17-0,” coach Mike McCoy said in his postgame press conference.

Rivers finished with 411 yards for his third 400-yard outing in five games under McCoy’s tutelage but he was outplayed by Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor, who was 18-of-23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

The Chargers also had no sign of a running game against the Raiders with just 32 yards on 19 rushing attempts. Ryan Mathews left early with a concussion and neither Woodhead or Ronnie Brown fared well.

Now San Diego needs to rebound against the Colts or risk being 2-4 six games into the season with two games each against undefeated AFC West rivals Denver and Kansas City still ahead.

We will learn a lot about this football team – and its rookie head coach – by the way the Chargers play against Andrew Luck and the Colts.