In sports, when you are known by just your first name, there's a reason.
Basketball has LeBron and Kobe, as well as Michael, Magic, Larry, Wilt and Kareem before them.
The 2004 Red Sox were led by Pedro and Manny.
You know Eli, Peyton and Ben.
Over the past few years, the San Diego Chargers had a pair of first-name-only figures at the helm. You had A.J. You had Norv. But with these guys, there was a common word uttered before their names that you couldn't print.
It seemed like Chargers fans would've been happy if the GM/coach combo had been replaced by Bert and Ernie or Thelma and Louise. Any duo would have done.
But the Spanos family didn't pick just any duo this offseason. They picked the right one.
Soon, the most unoriginal first names, Tom and Mike, will be household first names in San Diego -- for the right reasons.
Truth be told, I was fearful for Chargers Nation when the process of hiring a GM seemed to take a little bit longer than expected. And then I became increasingly concerned when it appeared the organization could promote from within; the name Jimmy Raye was rumored, rightly frightening San Diego diehards. Didn't Dean Spanos know widespread change was in order? The Chargers needed to get as far away as possible from A.J. Smith's stubborn ways, cantankerous personality and, in recent years, bad football decisions.
Fortunately, saner heads prevailed.
In every possible way, Tom Telesco was the right guy at the right time. I love this move. When the Atlanta Falcons needed a major clean-up, Arthur Blank astutely unearthed Thomas Dimitroff, who had spent the previous six years in the player personnel department of the New England Patriots. Yes, Blank found the next great general manager by mining one of the league's elite teams. This is exactly what the Spanos family did with Telesco, snatching him from the Indianapolis Colts after 15 years of first-class service.
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Telesco is very well respected in league circles. Rival executives I talked to raved about how thorough he is, how bright he is. Nobody will work harder. He knows football, having learned the game at the doorstep of one of the best executives in sports over the past 20 years, Bill Polian. Telesco has the right personality to forge unity between the coaching staff and the football operations department, something that was stunningly lacking for a decade with Smith, who couldn't work with coaches Norv Turner or Marty Schottenheimer.
Batman needs his Robin, and Telesco found that with the appointment of Mike McCoy as his head coach. McCoy is an innovator, a quarterback/offensive guru. He took the Denver Broncos to the playoffs with both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning running his offense. Let that sink in. McCoy is a worker bee like Telesco. Players love playing for him. Also like Telesco, his reputation is superb in league circles. McCoy had several suitors. San Diego was the best one. This is a great situation for him, being attached to a young star of a GM. McCoy is 41, Telesco is 40 -- and the future is exceedingly bright for both men. Which is a good thing, because there is work to be done.
Philip Rivers seemed to transform from a star into a turnover machine over the past two seasons. Some of the issues can be attributed to A.J. letting talent go (Darren Sproles, anyone?) and totally botching the Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill situations. Some can be attributed to injuries and a turnstile on the offensive line. Some can be attributed to Ryan Mathews' underachievement. And yes, some is on Norv. Last year, I would argue that a lot of the issues spawned from Rivers' poor decisions. McCoy is here to fix Rivers. Prior coaching ventures certainly speak to McCoy's skills as a QB whisperer. And he was smart enough to tap former Arizona Cardinals boss Ken Whisenhunt as his offensive coordinator and sounding board. Wise move for a first-time head coach; this is a sign that McCoy gets it.
Chargers players didn't respond to Norv's "leadership." McCoy's voice will be a welcome change. I already love the energy emanating from San Diego's offseason program.
Telesco and McCoy weren't active in free agency -- A.J. didn't leave them much in terms of cap room -- though I did like the under-the-radar pickup of running back Danny Woodhead. But they cleaned up in the 2013 NFL Draft, and I termed San Diego a true winner. In the first round, the Bolts plucked an instant starter in offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. And I loved the trade-up to get Manti Te'o in Round 2. Forget the fake girlfriend -- Te'o can play. I would argue San Diego landed two of the top 25 players in the draft. Plus, Telesco and McCoy stole receiver Keenan Allen in the third round.
The San Diego Chargers have great savvy and youth at the top. It's a wonderful 180-degree turn for the franchise. I love the direction of this team. The appointments of Telesco and McCoy were two of the best NFL moves made this entire offseason -- I'm talking free agency, the draft, staff changes, everything. The impact in San Diego over the next two years will be pronounced.
A.J. and Norv left this organization in a major hole, but the new guys have already begun repairs, making their presence felt in a short period of time.
Tom and Mike are about to become household names in San Diego. And with this pair, you can forget about that unprintable word Chargers fans have been muttering for years.