It was open, it was honest, it was pretty blunt, and it was hot.
It was the first day of the Chargers preseason camp, and lots of people had lots of interesting things to say.
No one wanted to hear from Coach Cliche, Mike McCoy, who wowed us with generic comments about how good the fan turnout was, looking for the best 53-man roster, we played music on the PA to keep the fans pumped up.
But listening was important, especially when the quarterback and his tight end spoke.
Philip Rivers answered my direction question, that he was so beat up last year, he did seriously consider retiring in January and February, the aftermath of the herniated disc in his back, the chest injury, and the fact the team failed to make the playoffs. He called it as ‘low an emotional point’ he has ever had in his career, aside from the torn knee ligament and the lost chance in the AFC championship game..
Rivers talked about the fatigue of the season, the frustration of failure, the need to diffuse the emotions. He got healthy, he is back, he is ready, and he is excited with off season acquisitions. He still doesn’t have a contract extension yet.
Tight end Antonio Gates is here now, but will be gone at the end of August. He maintains innocence, the aftermath of the 4-game drug suspension for an increased testosterone level, that led to a positive drug test.
Once the final preseason game is played, he exits the building. No workouts, no meetings, no access to trainers, no contact with anyone Chargers related till week five.
He maintains he did not take a new supplement, or gamble on something. He says he doesn’t know how it, anything illegal, got into his system. He admitted there are 166-things on the NFL banned list, and its pretty hard to determine any risk involved.
If you believe his story, he did off season maintenance, taking normal supplements that helped his body recover. He spoke of taking things to cleanse his kidneys and liver, but said there was no experimentation.
He met with the NFL and walked them thru his off season training regimen, what he took, why, and where he got it. They cut him no slack, just cut him a letter about the suspension, talking about drug levels and bar-codes..
It was interesting listening to massive Orlando Franklin talk about bolting Denver, coming to San Diego, early in free agency. He talked about playing with #17, and how Rivers is much like #18, Peyton Manning, in terms of leadership, in the huddle, in meetings, and on the field.
Stevie Johnson, the somewhat flamboyant ex-Buffalo Bill, does not lack confidence, talking about replacing Eddie Royal, and discussing his strengths and diversity.
The unhappiness of the contract war with Eric Weddle is there, and that chip on his shoulder does indeed exist. But there are games to played and teams to impress, so this will work out for him.
It was only one practice, but it was intensive in brutal heat. It was interesting to watch, unique to hear the honesty from the players about the tough questions they had to deal with.
You wish Coach Cliche was more honest with the media about important things about his team.
But it was better than being in New England, where Bill Belichick blew off 17-questions over two days about the Tom Brady mess, then retaliated against the media putting his players on the field without uniform numbers nor names, and making them stand way far away during practice.
The Patriots are winners and cheaters, the coach is a villain. San Diego hasn’t won much lately, and while the coach is obstinate, you can root for the players on the field, going thru their good times and bad.