Hall of Fame receiver Lofton fired as Chargers receivers coach

SAN DIEGO -- Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton was fired as the San Diego Chargers' wide receivers coach on Tuesday, a surprising move considering the way Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson played down the stretch.

"I was stunned by the news," Lofton said several hours after he was given word by coach Norv Turner.

"I wasn't really given a concrete explanation, just that they wanted to go in a different direction," Lofton said. "I really don't know. Like I said, I was stunned, surprised. I didn't see it coming. It was a job that I loved, the team was doing great, I loved the players I was getting to coach. I was really surprised."

Lofton had been with the Chargers six seasons and had one season remaining on his contract.

The Chargers also fired running backs coach Matt Simon, who just finished his first year on the job. The moves came two days after the Chargers lost to the perfect New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Lofton had been wide receivers coach since 2002, when he was hired by then-coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Neither Turner nor general manager A.J. Smith returned phone calls seeking comment.

"We appreciate the contributions that James made over the past six seasons and Matt's help in 2007," Turner said in a statement released by the team.

The Chargers had been getting solid contributions from Chambers and Jackson. Both had 100-yard games in a wild-card win over the Tennessee Titans, and Jackson also had a 100-yard game in an upset of the Indianapolis Colts the following week.

Both played well in the 21-12 loss at New England on Sunday, with Chambers catching seven passes for 90 yards and Jackson catching six for 93 yards.

"I thought the guys were giving great effort," Lofton said. "Vincent Jackson during the playoff run was playing as well as anybody had played at that position all year long. Chris, the way he came in, was the ultimate professional, a classy guy who studies hard, works hard, everything a coach could ask for.

"The guy who inherits this job inherits some great individuals to work with."

Lofton said he's already been calling other teams trying to get "any openings that haven't been filed."

Lofton played 16 seasons, catching 764 passes for 75 touchdowns and a then-record 14,004 yards. He was a four-time All-Pro, made eight Pro Bowls and played in three Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills. He played for Green Bay, the Los Angeles Raiders, Buffalo, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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