Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007 | The firing of Marty Schottenheimer demonstrates how much ownership matters to the success of a pro football team. There are certain franchises that are simply losers like Arizona, Miami and, yes, the Chargers. It can always be traced to the stupidity of the owners. Just go back to Bobby Ross.

Once again, the Spanos family choked. It wasn’t exactly a secret that Schottenheimer and A.J. Smith didn’t get along. If Spanos had acted decisively at the end of the season and fired Schottenheimer, he could have had his pick of the best talent available, including all the assistant coaches.

Instead, incredibly, he offered Schottenheimer a one year extension, which was declined. That should have been a clue, and Spanos should have pulled the plug then before his assistant coaches, all now lame ducks, bailed out on perhaps the most talented team in football. At this late date, unless there is a surprise (Bill Parcells, Jim Mora, Pete Carrol), the Chargers can now pick from leftovers.

Ownership matters. The ability to blackmail or con politicians into giveaway deals unfortunately doesn’t translate into putting a championship team on the field.

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