The San Diego Chargers are losers.
These are the words of A.J. Smith, the team's longtime general manager who doubles as his own worst critic.
"I've failed in every single attempt, and that kills me. I hate to lose. Hate it," Smith told U-T San Diego this week. "Do that and you're a LOSER. Hopefully you get a chance to try again?"
By extension, Smith refuses to call San Diego a winner.
Smith has another chance this season after owner Dean Spanos went against popular opinion to retain his GM and embattled coach Norv Turner after the Chargers missed the playoffs for a second straight season.
"When I sit back and assess myself, I'm disappointed," he said. "Nine years and no world championship. Five trips to the postseason and five failures, and I don't like it. It's what drives me."
Smith specializes in this variety of set-the-bar-low, set-up-your-opponent chatter. He previously said his team wasn't fit for "Hard Knocks" fame. Really? Who could resist cutaways to Smith, in some darkened office, dishing out long soliloquies: "You should have seen me in 1976," he'd say quietly, to nobody.
We've been here before. Smith recently declared the Denver Broncos would walk away with the AFC West. The man is a verbal pugilist, sitting on a hot seat. It's engaging, but we're not sure it's enough in San Diego.