Merriman calls for end to back-and-forth

Updated: January 27, 2009, 12:22 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Shawne Merriman says the lights need to be turned out on the public back-and-forth between Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and general manager A.J. Smith.

"That [stuff] doesn't help bring a Super Bowl to San Diego," the Chargers' star linebacker said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. "And that [stuff] needs to stop, period. It needs to stop now."

Last week, Tomlinson said on his Web site that he plans to continue his career in San Diego, barring a trade from the team. Smith appeared to take Tomlinson lightly by seemingly mocking his comments in quotes to the Union-Tribune.

"As for now, I am a Charger and will be until I am told otherwise," Tomlinson wrote last week on his Web site.

Smith appeared unmoved in comments to the newspaper the following day.

"My first reaction was we both have similar feelings," Smith said. "I have no intentions of leaving San Diego. San Diego is where my GM career started and where I'd like it to end. I also have nothing but love and the utmost respect for this team, the players and the Spanos family. I have absolutely no control over how long I will be with the Chargers.

"As for now, I am the Chargers' GM, and I have major decisions to ponder for the organization now and in the future. My recommendation to Dean Spanos will be what's in the best interest of the team -- both short and long term. That's my job. That's what Dean hired me to do."

Wild Card: LaDainian Tomlinson highlights

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LaDainian Tomlinson plays despite a groin injury and scores a TD in a 23-17 win vs. the Colts.

Sources told the Union-Tribune that Chargers president Dean Spanos is "very upset" that the Tomlinson situation is being discussed publicly. Sources told the newspaper, that despite Smith's comments, he holds Tomlinson in high regard.

Tomlinson, 29, battled a variety of injuries last season, and had a career-low 292 rushing attempts and 1,110 yards. He is a five-time Pro Bowler who has played his entire eight-year career with the Chargers, but he's been injured for the playoffs the past two years.

He has three years remaining on an eight-year contract he signed in 2004 that, at the time, made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

The contract, like many in the NFL, was back-loaded and the Chargers are looking for salary-cap flexibility. Speculation in San Diego is that Tomlinson may be asked to take a pay cut.

"Going into next season, I want people talking about how we're going to rebound from getting ... bounced from the playoffs -- not if LT is going to be there or if I'm going to be there," Merriman, who missed all of last season after surgery, said, according to the newspaper.

In other Chargers news, ESPN.com's John Clayton is reporting that San Diego has hired one of the best remaining offensive coordinators, Rob Chudzinski, to be Norv Turner's assistant head coach and tight ends coach.

Chudzinski decided to take the Chargers job over offensive coordinator openings in San Francisco and Tampa Bay. For Chudzinski, it's a chance to return to the Chargers after establishing himself as a successful play-caller in Cleveland. He was the Browns offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, the Browns won 10 games and Chudzinski's offense averaged 25.1 points a game. Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow went to the Pro Bowl in Chudzinski's first year as Browns offensive coordinator.

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