One of Spanos's first major moves as San Diego's owner was to put Ron Nay in charge of scouting and player personnel in early 1985. Nay has not exactly distinguished himself. His 1986 draft picks were dubious: Only two players have made any impact on the team.
But Spanos's biggest bonehead move came the day after the 1985 season, when he appointed offensive coordinator Al Saunders as the Chargers' assistant head coach and began using him as a go-between in dealing with Coryell.
Says Chuck Weber, who was dismissed as the Chargers' linebacker coach last year, "For players to have someone else to go to is a mistake. There can only be one boss." Asked if Coryell could have won in that situation, Weber said, "No. It undermined leadership. It's not his fault." Last week Saunders replaced Coryell in the top spot.
The big question now going around the NFL is: Who will Spanos get to work for him as G.M. if he decides to oust G.M. Johnny Sanders, as rumors suggest? Spanos has already interviewed Terry Bledsoe, ex-Giants and Bills exec, and Carl Peterson, the USFL Baltimore Stars' president. Also on his list: Dick Steinberg of the Patriots and Steve Ortmayer of the Raiders.
Gambling on games is not unknown in NFL press boxes, which no doubt explains some of the cheering and table-pounding that occasionally goes on in such supposedly neutral precincts. The topic of writers betting on the games they cover was discussed at this year's American Press Institute Sports Editors Seminar in Reston, Va. No resolution was reached, but concern was expressed by, among others, Mike Waldner, sports editor of The Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif., who believes betting on games can color a writer's objectivity. Several years ago, Waldner said, one of his beat writers bet heavily on pro football. "I don't think he ever filed a story that was angled because of his betting," Waldner said. "He and I were aware of other Los Angeles writers who could not say that. You could read them on Monday and know if they'd lost a bet on the home team."
Most newspapers take a hands-off approach to betting by their sportswriters, but the Akron Beacon-Journal, which considers it "verboten," according to executive sports editor Tom Giffen, is an exception.
"Not only could you lose your beat, you could also lose your job," he said.
Giffen has no objection to writers participating in office pools. "But if you're betting on the Browns and I find out, you're in big trouble in a big hurry," he said.
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