As the NFL page turns, Norv returns to 1090

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner

“Norvall, what’s going on?”

Norv Turner returned to the Mighty 1090 airways on Wednesday and if you’re a regular listen, you get the inside joke.

The snippet of Turner greeting co-host Marty Caswell years ago resides on the station’s Mt. Rushmore of clips.

“Martha, what’s going on?” a friendly Turner inquires.

So we start with Turner’s complete first name as we completely go into a time warp.

It’s one that spins us back to when Turner was the Chargers’ head coach, from 2007-2012. It was a tumultuous time that really, and it’s hard to type, were the good ol’ days.

Know this about Mike McCoy, the current man on the Chargers’ watch: He’s done something twice in his short tenure that Turner, the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, never did: finish third in the AFC West.

During Turner’s time — when he was a popular as the notion of the franchise moving to Los Angeles — his teams ended in first or second place. But Turner was barbecued with regularity by fans calling for his ouster.

If it wasn’t Turner being pointed toward the door, it was his boss, general manager A. J. Smith, getting blistered.

Turner must go and take the Lord of No Rings with him was the mantra and boy, that was a keen run for this columnist.

If nothing else, Chargers fans were passionate. It’s the same contingent which is put to sleep by McCoy and have put to rest the idea that GM Tom Telesco is a miracle worker. 

After two mediocre seasons, the Chargers are again at .500 as they prepare to play the Vikings on Sunday.

Back then, it was Turner’s turn and man, we’ll take his Chargers teams over this current edition all day, every day.

The Chargers didn’t reach the Super Bowl but they advanced to the 2007 AFC Championship Game. They fell to the Patriots, but Chargers faithful still play the what-if card as Philip Rivers performed despite being days removed from knee surgery, a gimpy LaDainian Tomlinson was a no-factor and Antonio Gates was hobbling as well.

While the Chargers fell short, don’t shortchange Turner in that he presided over the team’s first playoff win in 13 years. Or that his 2009 team won 11 straight en route to 13-3.

“I don’t think bad coaches win 13 games in season,” Turner said, proudly.

Neither do ones that win 14, like the coach Turner replaced, Marty Schottenheimer.

But that controversial move only stirred the spicy pot percolating at Chargers Park. Turner, after failing twice in previous head-coaching stints, was hired by Smith and that’s when tar met feathers in San Diego and they never parted until Turner did.

“I’m well aware of his record as a head coach,” Smith snorted when questioned about his selection. “But he’s never been the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.”

Fans clamored for Smith and Turner to go after the 2011 season. But head honcho Dean Spanos preached continuity and it was a sermon which fell on deaf ears. The Chargers went 7-9, missed the playoffs and the Smith-Turner era was kaput.

Turner said since he seldom interacts with Smith.

“I haven’t in quite a while,” he said, his voice not reflecting any regret. “I would love to see (Smith) and say hello and visit.”

Odd, because Turner and Smith both called Del Mar home at one point. Turner still hangs in the beach community and Smith, we believe, relocated to Rancho Santa Fe.

But the focus this week is Minnesota, where Turner’s Vikings tangle with the Chargers. He’ll see a prized pupil in Rivers, someone his voice relays he’s eager to talk with.

“He and I will always be close and good friends,” Turner said.

What Turner won’t be again is a head coach.

“If I ever got that inclination my wife would hit me with a baseball bat,” Turner said. “Or something worse.”

For better or worse, Turner’s time in San Diego was compelling. The expectations were high and not always reached.

But the Chargers were an “it” team in the NFL conversation as a squad which was more of a Super Bowl contender than a pretender.

Turner, though, no longer covets the hot seat. He’s comfortable diagramming plays and leaving the headaches and main headsets to Mike Zimmer.

“I’m enjoying what I’m doing now,” Turner said. “You only have so many snaps in you.”

Not so with the never-ending “Martha, what’s going on?” 

It’s etched in Mighty 1090 lore, as is Turner in Chargers history.

 

+ Contact Jay Paris at jparis@bcaradio.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jparis_sports.

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