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View from the Top: Dean Spanos
Does the goal change from year-to-year for the Chargers?
Our goal every year is to win the Super Bowl. You look at some of the teams that get in – Green Bay a couple years ago when they won – they just barely get in and they were the fifth or sixth seed. And everybody says, ‘Well, you have to be the first or second (seed),’ and of course you know what happened to us a couple times when we were in that position. Just get in and you’ve got yourself a chance to win the Super Bowl because anything can happen. Our goal has been to win the Super Bowl for the city of San Diego. It always has been and it always will be. That’s our bottom-line goal here.
What’s your biggest question mark in this offseason in terms of player personnel?
There are a lot of issues, obviously. This is me speaking – I’m not speaking for A.J. or Norv, because we haven’t all come to resolve yet as to what our No. 1 issue might be – but I think the offensive line would probably be my first concern right now. The left side of the line with Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman coming off major injuries, that would be my first concern. And secondly, I really think we need to go look at a potentially big-time pass rusher/outside linebacker.
Does Vincent Jackson also remain a key offseason decision for you, or is that further down the list?
Everyone knows we’d like to have Vincent back. It’s no secret. We’ll begin those conversations in the coming weeks, as we will with other players.
Nick Hardwick has announced he’ll play somewhere in 2012. He’s a free agent, but could that be good news for the Chargers if you re-sign him, given the issues on the left side of the line?
We’ve always known Nick wanted to come back. Nick has been an integral part of our line and as I mentioned, our offensive line is one of our top issues. Hopefully we’re able to have Nick back with us.
There’s been a report that the Chargers likely will release Marcus McNeill. Is there anything to that?
We’ve made no decisions and are still working our way through all of the question marks we have on this team. Both Marcus and Kris Dielman had serious injuries last season, so obviously we have to answer those questions first.
You and A.J. Smith both are on the record saying you’ve got to build a better defense. Obviously there are several new coaches there, and John Pagano now is the coordinator. Can you expect a high draft pick to make the kind of impact you need at this point, or do you have to infuse some skilled veterans?
We’re looking at all options. I think either can make the impact we need. We just have to make the right choices.
You’ve always let your football people make the football decisions. Are you going to stick with that in 2012?
I still have confidence in A.J. and Norv. I never lost confidence in them. Working with A.J. is challenging sometimes and he’ll tell you that, but I really enjoy it. Norv has been around a long time. He’s a pro. He knows what’s going on. So I respect that a lot. I let them do their jobs. I ask a lot of questions, obviously, but at the end of the day, I think back and maybe there were only a few times where I said I really don’t want to do something. But over the last 10 years that A.J. has been here, he makes his recommendations and we talk about them, but we pretty much have gone with his decisions.
The day you announced you’d retain A.J. and Norv Turner for 2012, you seemed keen on being more aggressive in free agency than in past seasons. Now that it’s closer to decision time, can you see A.J. deviating from his traditional strategy?
We’ll take a closer look at the free agent market this year, but we’ve always done that. We’ve signed other teams’ free agents nearly every year, not to mention our own free agents. People think because we give top money to one of our own free agents, it isn’t considered a free agent signing. Whether we sign another team’s free agent to a top contract is to be determined, but we’re open to anything that makes us better and doesn’t hurt our ability to sign other players.
Does the value of the franchise and your ability to succeed as a business affect how you approach your quest for a new stadium, and even its location?
If we do the right deal here, we can be profitable. Maybe not as profitable as up there in Los Angeles or any other place, but that’s not the most important thing. I really think it’s our passion to be here in San Diego.