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This is no way to treat the face of your franchise

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Even worse than the talks about the San Diego Chargers moving to Los Angeles has been how quickly they have turned cold on the franchise stars.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I said at some point, a few months back, that Mike McCoy carried himself with the confidence of a coach that had won a Super Bowl. It appears I should have thrown Tom Telesco's name in there too.

This is not a new thing, and it's not a rare thing either. Hell, A.J. Smith's biggest issue was that he acted as if he were smarter than everyone else. He carried himself as if he knew more about football than anyone he came in contact with, coach, player, media personality, or fan. It's what allowed him to make decisions like cutting LaDainian Tomlinson, drafting unknown guys in early rounds, and refusing to sign Vincent Jackson to a contract extension.

Now, I feel we've entered that realm once more.

The current Chargers' front office won't negotiate a deal with Eric Weddle, the best Safety in the entire league, because they think they're smarter than everyone else. They see wear and tear on his body that others don't see.

The current Chargers' front office is stretching out their negotiations for a contract extension with Philip Riverspast his original deadline and quickly approaching a new deadline, after reportedly shopping him in a potential trade during the offseason. (While teams may sometimes do this with a player's 2nd contract, such as Russell Wilson's recent signing, they almost never do it with a guy who has been with the team for a decade already.)

When Antonio Gates, who is likely the best Tight End in Chargers history and possibly the best story the team has ever had, tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, the Chargers' response was...well....

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself. Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."

It took Philip Rivers to get a mic in front of his face for someone to actually come to Gates' defense and say that he was not the type of guy to cheat.

Does it matter?

Professional sports are essentially controlled by free agency these days. Yes, you win by building through the draft, but you also can't win if you can't entice a free agent to sign with your team. Somebody needs to fill the holes left behind by injuries and draft busts.

What do players pay attention to more than anything? How do teams treat their big name players. How do they step up for Rivers, and pay him what he's worth. How they step up for Weddle, and get the deal done while admitting that he's too special to let walk away.

What do you think Robert Kraft would've done if he were the owner of the Chargers and Antonio Gates tested positive? I get the feeling it would've involved a crazy press conference.

When push comes to shove, these are not just numbers on jerseys. These are men. They are people, and they care about being treated as such. What the San Diego Chargers have shown the world this offseason, separate from all of the stadium talk, is that they value the numbers more than they value the face(s) of their franchise. Players around the league, inside and outside the locker room at Chargers Park, are taking note.