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Chargers driving fans to brink of insanity?

Ron Burgundy would not be pleased. The fans of the San Diego Chargers are officially starting to lose it. (See YouTube video below).

The Chargers suffered a crushing 35-27 loss to their Raiders in Oakland on Sunday, a game that snapped their 13-game winning streak against their AFC West archrivals. To add insult to injury, the Raiders scored two touchdowns and a safety off Chargers miscues (two blocked punts and a fumble).  San Diego actually had a chance to kick a potential game-winning field goal late in the game, until tight end Antonio Gates was flagged for holding followed by quarterback Phillip Rivers’ fumble, which was returned to the house in the opposite direction by Tyon Branch. Game over.

Later that evening on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” Rodney Harrison, a former Chargers safety, and fellow analyst former Colts head coach Tony Dungy discussed the loss. Dungy indicated that San Diego head coach Norv Turner is partially to blame.  On Monday, the normally mellow Turner fired back at Dungy, and even cited a 2007 game his team won against Dungy’s Colts in 2007.

Norv Turner trash-talking!? A child flowing tears, screaming, “I hate the Raiders!” at the television? Almost forgot, here’s that video and BTW, kid, ‘You need to chill.’

Here’s another youngster “cheering” his Chargers on after their loss.

Who’s to blame for this mess in “San Diego?”  How about Chargers general manager A.J. Smith?

Smith, who is routinely criticized by the media and callers to San Diego sports-talk radio station XX 1090 for being arrogant, has recently drawn the ire of fans who question his recent moves.  During the off-season, he released the team’s all-time leading rusher, LaDainian Tomlinson and traded controversial cornerback Antonio Cromartie.  Both players are now enjoying success with the New York Jets.

He then refused to sign the tenders of two key free agent holdouts: wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeil, who actually signed a new contract this week.  Neither player has suited up for the Chargers in 2010.  After Smith nixed a potential trade to the Minnesota Vikings last month, Jackson’s agent, Jonathan Feinsod, stated, “They call [Smith] the Lord of No Rings for a reason.

Smith followed that up yesterday by making linebacker Shawn Merriman the latest scapegoat, placing the oft-injured player on injured reserve with a minor-injury designation.  This means that Merriman must be released once he’s healthy.  While the team could choose to re-sign Merriman, it’s highly unlikely given the strained relationship between the two.

See a pattern developing?

Before fans go even crazier, there is some hope for the Chargers.  Turner’s teams are notoriously slow starters, yet play well down the stretch – in the past three seasons, his teams are 13-0 in December.  Plus, the team plays in the weak AFC West, so it’s not like a 12-4 record will be required to win the division.  And the icing on the cake could be the return of McNeil and the rumored return of Jackson in a few weeks.

But things better turn around quickly, as fans in “America’s Finest City” are growing impatient.  At this rate, they may become more fired up than Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown.  A scary thought, indeed…

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri also covers the NFL for Sports Climax and the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com.  He has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations

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