A.J. Smith, hired as the general manager in April of 2003 for the deceased John Butler took the Chargers to the top of the AFC West in 2004 and their first playoff berth in ten years.
With a hardnosed approach, Smith bucked the trends of his predecessors and his straight-forward approach earned him accolades throughout the league.
Smith earned NFL Executive of the Year honors from Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers Association as well as FoxSports.com for his hard work in 2004.
He has already faced the tough decisions of Jason Ball, Eli Manning, Junior Seau and more, putting the Chargers in better position each time.
He has also mastered the rare trade in the NFL. He picked up Roman Oben and Keenan McCardell via trade and also added Philip Rivers and a second first round pick in this year's draft via his draft day blockbuster in 2004.
Stressing character in each of his moves, he has assembled a team that became cohesive overnight and has a bright future ahead.
"We have set a good course for the organization and the football team is headed in the right direction," said President Dean Spanos. "A.J. took over under difficult circumstances and has helped build the roster into a playoff competitor. I'm excited to have A.J. and Marty (Schottenheimer) in place and solidify our front office."
Chargers to AJ Smith: Job well done
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