No Ball, no problem

Camp has ended for the San Diego Chargers and now the talk of Jason Ball coming to Murphy Canyon may become a reality. But really – who needs him. Sure he is a solid center but he possesses the type of attitude that the Chargers have been getting rid of over the last year.

To hear his agent, Peter Schaeffer, tell it, Jason Ball is not in it for the money. He says he was disrespected because he didn't get offered enough money.

Perhaps I am the moron here. Perhaps I am naïve.

Ball isn't in it for the money but is not in training camp because he didn't get offered enough money. That sums it up. We are not the dumb ones here.

Has there ever been a more pompous undrafted free agent? And what about his agent? Did he actually steer his client in this direction? I don't know Schaeffer, nor have I ever talked to him. Looking back…I am glad.

If I were the Chargers I would allow him to come to camp and sit his butt on the end of the bench all year long. A two year player who went undrafted and is lucky to be playing in the NFL wants more money. Oh yeah, and he missed eight games in his second year in the league. Perhaps there was a reason he went undrafted so long ago. Maybe it was a poor attitude.

Whatever it was – the Chargers gave him the respect he is craving by keeping him on the team when he could be on the street bagging groceries. They started him and he performed well. Do your time and you will be rewarded like so many others. Did Rod Smith shoot off at the mouth when he was a practice squad player? Look at him now with Denver and I am not a Denver fan by any means. A professional simply handles a situation with class. Ball is performing is handling it without the "cl".

Ball claims he will return for his teammates. Tell the truth Jason. The fans know it already. You are returning so you can earn your year of tenure. If it was about the greater good of the team you would have found your way to Carson. Too late for that. Training camp has ended.

You simply want to ride the wave into restricted free agency. Put me in the GM's shoes and I would tender you next year with first round money just to irritate you further. Then I would sit you on your rear again for the whole year…no matter who went down with injury. Good luck getting a job after that.

But minimum pay equals minimum effort. Report and Hudson Houck will teach you how to get water and snacks for the guys who are hungry and want to play. Find yourself a comfortable spot on the bench because you are never leaving it.

Polling the players, very few are brave enough to discuss the topic.

With a sigh, Doug Flutie broached the absence of Jason Ball:

"He is a heck of a player," Flutie said. "It would be nice to have Jay Ball here. If the situation comes where he gets back in here, we will let him in with open arms."

"Centers," Flutie elaborated with a pause, "are pretty important to the offensive line. They make a lot of the calls, if not all of them. It all starts there. It anchors the offensive line. It allows young guys at guard to communicate better. If you have a better center that is talking it up, letting people know their responsibilities, knows it like the back of his hand, he makes everyone else's job a little bit easier."

Another rookie dots the roster and he is more than capable of noting what the different defensive looks are. He was a defensive lineman that converted to the offensive side of the ball in a pinch.

"I can read defensive guys a little better than most offensive linemen because I know what they are taught," Hardwick says with a grin.

His former coach at Purdue, Joe Tiller agrees. He has seen Hardwick make the transition and has been impressed by the learning curve.

"I like him as a center," says the coach. "He has the ability to make all the blocks from the center position."

Take a look at Nick Hardwick on Friday. Watch him run the first team. Hear him call out what has become his trademark on the field, "Huddle!" See if any snaps are dropped and watch how he blocks. Sure he will have his miscues but the guy has an attitude and willingness to learn. He wants to be the best center in the NFL.

The difference is apparent. Jason Ball thinks he is the best center in the league already.

No Ball – no problem.

Give me a Hardwick every time.

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