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GM loves job despite pressure

Posted Feb 10, 2012

All 32 teams have their own way of making player-related decisions. For the Chargers, the general manager is tasked as the decision-maker.

A.J. Smith explains what it feels like to sit in his office knowing the decisions he makes could affect the franchise and its hundreds of thousands of fans in a good or bad way. With a smile on his face, Smith gave a first-person account of why he loves the job despite the pressure.

SAN DIEGO – It is fun, but it also can be a monumental task when you accept an executive position or a general manager’s position, which was given to me by Dean Spanos.

In this job, you’re the decision-maker.

You’re the guy that weighs all of this information from your entire scouting department. Directors, scouts, the coaching staff, everyone gives input. And I also have input.

We all talk. We kick everything around and then we make a plan. And we execute the plan.

The final part of it is I look at all of these decisions and make recommendations to Dean: ‘I think we’ve put this all together and I strongly endorse this plan and this direction that we’re going to go in for this season.’

Dean, since I was hired, has always been supportive. He’s always given us the financial means to be successful. He’s heavily involved in it, but he lets the decision-makers and us football people follow a plan. He gives his input and his two cents constantly, but I can honestly sit here and tell you going into my tenth year that he’s been incredible with support for me and in the direction of our team.

Where we go from there, people all have fun with this and they all have opinions on what the plan should be. It’s what makes the world go ’round. It’s the same with the draft.

Right now our fans and other people are making their own decisions about the 2012 San Diego Chargers, what they want in the draft and who’s out there, and what players should stay and go. They’re also coming up with contracts of who should be paid and who shouldn’t be paid. It’s an incredible fever-pitch thing that we are aware of. I like the passion involved in that and it’s something I share.

I’m just simply doing my job. And my job is to do the same thing that they’re doing, but for me, it’s real.

The exercise is fun on the outside. I enjoy it too. It’s fun for me. But when things don’t go well, I think others can just say, well, we’ll try something else. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. The consequences can be a little more severe on our end.

But this is what we do for a living and I certainly enjoy making it happen along with some very good people here in San Diego. All general managers or decision-makers, be it a head coach/GM or whatever, it’s an incredible feeling to be a part of it, especially over a period of time. There are highs and lows that I go through, but ultimately I’m trying to get that special year where we can make something happen and win ourselves a Super Bowl.
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