Walter Mencken 9 a.m., Oct. 1
Longtime Charger Reporter for the Spoonrun-Spittoon Says Victory Over Jacksonville Shows that Coach-Provocateur "No Longer Has the Heart for Truly Experimental Football."
"When you start listening to the critics, it's time to go."
TOP FLOOR OF THE HOLLOW SHELL THAT ONCE HOUSED A MIGHTY DAILY - Let's get one thing clear at the outset: Kelvin Acea does not hate Norv Turner. "I believe that [he] will one day be remembered as one of the boldest, most progressive coaches in NFL history," said the Spittoon's longtime Charger analyst as he polished his most recent sports journalism trophy. "It's true that he never did anything as bold as [Ohio State Buckeye Coach Jim] Tressell when he exposed the hypocrisy at the heart of so-called "amateur" athletics in 2010 through the fleshy eloquence of the tattoo. And he certainly never attempted anything as transgressive as [Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry] Sandusky's exploration of the connection between violent sport and arrested development, sexual and otherwise. But it must be remembered that both of those men were working in the comparatively free-wheeling realm of collegiate athletics, where you can get away with things like payola and the wishbone offense. For Turner to have mounted the kinds of dramatic seasonal arcs that he has, all while operating under the business constraints faced by any professional sports franchise, is nothing short of remarkable. Imagine Bresson or Godard making movies at a studio like 20th Century Fox - that's the kind of situation I'm talking about."
But, said Acea, last nights' blowout victory over Jacksonville is a clear indication that Turner has lost his artistic nerve. "It seemed pretty clear what he was up to this season. As the Chargers readied themselves to entertain offers from their suitors [San Diego and Los Angeles chief among them], Turner was cratering the team as a kind of test - 'How much do you really want me? Is it really me you want, or just my great big winning record? Will you still want me when I'm clearly not at my best?' Imagine a woman putting on 40 pounds right before her wedding, just to see if her man was ready for the inevitable hard times to come. That's what Turner was up to. A bold move, but an important one. Everybody wants a winner, but no team can win every year. Turner wanted to make sure that whoever got the Chargers would love the Chargers for better or for worse."
Acea turned and spat a long, thin stream of tobacco juice into one of the many brass spittoons that both give his paper its famous name and also dot the interior of its headquarters. "But this," he said, wiping a trace of brownish spittle from his chin, "this clumsy, lopsided victory over a hapless team in the midst of its own transitions... To say that I'm disappointed is too mild. The only way I can make sense of it is to declare that Turner is tired. Fire him now. I suspect it's what he wants. Bring someone in who can give this team what it needs: a truly disastrous finish to what has been, up to now, a merely disappointing season."
More like this:
- Seven (Sun)days of Darkness? — Sept. 24, 2012
- Turner Triumphant — Jan. 4, 2012
- Norv Turner: "I wouldn't want to be Rex Ryan's wife." — Oct. 20, 2011
- Chargers Preview Edition — Sept. 6, 2007
- In With The Old — March 1, 2007