Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Coach Norv Turner Explains, "The people are a great beast, and when they cry for blood, they must be appeased."
O Greg Manusky, We Hardly Knew Ye
SITTING IN AN EMPTY, SILENT LOCKER ROOM AT SNAPDRAGON STADIUM, PONDERING LIFE'S UPS AND DOWNS - "Dean Spanos is a brave man," says Norv Turner as he pours another slug of bourbon and hands it to a sobbing and broken Greg Manusky. "It took guts for him to stand up to public opinion and stick with me and [Chargers General Manager A.J.] Smith. But he is also a businessman, and his business is show business. You gotta put butts in seats, and if the fans hate you, odds are they'll find something else to do come Sunday. So we had to give them something. Some token of good will. Spanos had to show them that we were willing to bleed for them. So we did some cutting."
Turner paused while Manusky pounded back the whiskey, gasped, and coughed. Then he continued. "Trust me, it wasn't personal. Basically, we put everybody's name in a hat - everybody but me and A.J., of course - and had Mindy - you know, captain of the Charger Girls - pick one. You just got unlucky. Sort of the way you got unlucky every freaking time the opposing offense was trying to convert a third down this season."