Interview with Chargers COO Jim Steeg

The following interview was conducted on Friday, October 14, four days after the Bolts one-point loss on Monday Night Football against the Steelers. Once again, I'd like to thank Chief Operating Officer and Vice President Jim Steeg for taking my calls. I know that he doesn't actually deal with personnel or call plays. However, there were a few times that I couldn't help but vent my frustrations to someone so close to the action.

RLW: I keep seeing your name in the news these days. First, you took a little flack for opening the parking lots later for the Giants game. I read that you felt that people want to make a name for themselves on national television and that less partying might minimize that. You've also tried to make our home field a place that the opposition fears playing in. From one East Coaster to another, what's been the biggest difficulty getting universal home support on game day?

JS: First off, San Diego is a transient town. There are no second or third generation San Diegans. The atmosphere is really electric this season and that starts with our season ticket base. I got an e-mail right before Monday Night's game from a guy I always hear from who lives in Orange County. He wanted to apologize that he would be coming to the game in Steeler gear since he's originally from Pittsburgh. But the other seven home games he's a Charger fan. We've tried to really strengthen the ticket base with the mini-packs. One had traditional favorites like the Giants, Dallas and Pittsburgh. The other one had local rivals like Oakland and San Francisco.

The last three games we've had 25,000 people come through the building. That's more than any other three-game stretch in team history. It all starts with pride in your building. Unfortunately, we dropped two of those games, but we'll learn how to win those. The intensity over the last three home games has been amazing. The players love to be in an environment that inspires them to succeed. San Diego fans aren't about going after the opposing team's supporters. They have the attitude that other fans can enjoy the city and boost the economy. I mean, Steelers fans took over the Gaslamp District. But the game is a different story. We thought that the white towels would counteract the yellow.

RLW: I know that some local fans commented after the game that they were happy that the Chargers stayed with one of the elite teams in football until the very end. I don't subscribe to that and I know A.J. Smith doesn't. When it comes to something like shoring up the secondary, it seems like there are much higher standards set for this organization. That's why I stand by his decision to suspend Gates for the first game. It seems like being close is no longer good enough. Do you sense that out there?

JS: Absolutely. I can tell you that no one was happy around here this week. Things are improving. New England claims that their schedule is the most difficult in the league, but ours is right up there. One of my main goals has been taking pride in the building. That means giving the fans the best possible time while they're here. Otherwise, they can just watch the game at home. I heard Hank Bauer comment on the intensity in the stadium over the last three games. That translates to what's happening on the field. I also read Jay Glaser's column this week that mentioned that we are the team best situated over the next four years. We will be 25 million dollars under the cap. LT, Jamal, Foley and Antonio are all signed for the long term. Drew's the only one who doesn't have a long-term deal.

RLW: Well, I have a lot of friends who would love to trade for one of our quarterback. They've got some real good defensive players over there.

JS: (Laughing) I assume you're talking about frustrated Jets fans.

RLW: I know that you don't deal with such matters. But if you see Cam Cameron walking around, you can mention that the reverse is a good call when the defense is stacking the line.

JS: (Silence)

RLW: Getting back to the fans, I assume you've gotten a lot of positive feedback on the team wearing the throwback uniforms on Monday Night?

JS: Oh yeah, and everybody did a great job in painting the field to match them.

RLW: You know that there a lot of petitions for the team to wear the uniforms permanently.

JS: The figures I've seen are pretty split. The way I see it, we have two uniforms. I don't mean like what Dallas has with the star in the middle. We have two separate looks.

RLW: As long as you don't go back to white jerseys and white pants.

JS: You mean the ice cream look?

RLW: My friend Craig calls it the disco look. I saw that quote in Nick Canepa's column where you referred to yourself as "a new sheriff in town."

JS: That was at one of the city meetings. San Diego isn't like Boston (his hometown) or New York (mine). Canepa has to come up with a column regularly and right now we're the only game in town except for the Aztecs.

RLW: Well, thanks again for taking the time and especially for the Tomlinson ball. It's in a case over my TV. I touched the outside for good luck at the end of the Steelers game, but to no avail.

JS: I had a Ted Williams ball like that when I was a kid. Maybe the case nullified the effect.

RLW: LT is a hell of a lot nicer than Ted Williams, that's for sure. Thanks again and I will talk to you soon.

NOTE: I did light my "Terrible Towel" from the 1994 AFC Championship game on fire to try to eliminate the bad mojo from the loss on Monday Night. My in-law's neighbors thought I was a teenage pyro, but it worked until the Philly game. Jim Steeg, on the other hand, was back East attending the funeral of Wellington Mara and will return for this weekend game against the Jets. We wish him the best here at Justice Is Coming.

The story originally appeared on http://www.justiceiscoming.com


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