Chargers general manager Tom Telesco held a pre-draft press conference Wednesday at Chargers Park, and it was met with some criticism on the Interwebs. Folks seemed to be bothered by Telesco’s vagueness, especially regarding the rumors surrounding quarterback Philip Rivers possibly being traded to the Titans (or any team).
@BFTB_Chargers TT said "don't know what else I can say".. .he can say "No"
— Scott Copperman (@shc1970) April 22, 2015
@UTgehlken All he has to say is "we're not trading him during the draft…" And all the talk ENDS. But he can't bring himself to do it.
— matilack (@matilack) April 22, 2015
Telesco kept to a strict “Philip’s our QB, it’s our plan he will be for a long time” when asked (repeatedly) about the trade.
Telesco being very clear. "Intent and plan" is to keep Rivers as franchise quarterback. He's leaving himself an out. Plans can change.
— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) April 22, 2015
Asked if he's talked with Tennessee about trading Rivers, Tommy T says, "I'm going to leave that go."
— Bernie Wilson (@berniewilson) April 22, 2015
That did not make people happy.
I hate to do it, but here is where I must borrow a meme. (Thank you, Ghost of Ray Kroc, who coincidentally hates football with a passion and was just trolling me with this meme but it’s appropriate so it shall be posted.)
— Ghost of Ray Kroc (@GhostofRAK) April 22, 2015
That’s not how any of this works, folks.
I can only speak for myself, but as a media member, I don’t expect much of anything to come out of a pre-draft presser. I suppose it’s more of a formality to hold this press conference than anything. It’s sort of a “can’t win” scenario. Telesco is damned if he doesn’t speak to the media (“He’s hiding! He doesn’t want to talk! The team isn’t making him available!”) and he’s damned if he does (“He’s vague! He’s not saying anything!”).
This is the point where you might be asking yourself: “Why even go then, Annie? If it’s sooooo lame why even go?”
Well, for one, the opportunity to ask a question is always appreciated. Two, while Telesco isn’t going to unveil his draft board to us, it’s still possible to learn a little more about his style and philosophy — the way he thinks, how he maneuvers when it comes to the draft. And sometimes there IS a nugget of valuable information, something that might give a reporter insight into a certain position or an area where the team takes a stance (maybe on a character issue or the fit of a certain personnel scheme, for example).
Still, you go into it knowing that this is the Super Sneaky Top Secret Undercover World of the NFL, and any information that will be given out is likely either a vague non-answer, a bluff or even possibly (gasp!) a lie.
And that’s how fans should want it to be … right? It’s a cat-and-mouse game at this point. Doesn’t it benefit the team – YOUR team – to be as crafty and coy as possible before the draft?
Tom Telesco can’t give away his cards. He can’t say whether he’s looking right, left, up or down. I also don’t think his style is to outright lie and deceive (like some GM’s) so his best bet is to just be vague. This seems crazy – I mean, are GM’s from other teams really paying attention to press conference chatter?! – but yes, possibly. Someone from the team is, at least. Buzz is buzz, and Tom has two choices: Skirt around the issue as much as he can, or say the complete opposite of how he really feels to try and mess with reporters and teams. (While that might be funny, I just don’t think it’s his style.)
That brings me to the rumors surrounding Rivers.
I hear you guys: Shut down the rumors. Say you will NOT trade Rivers, under any circumstance. Say it’s not even possible. Make it stop. Make all the madness end.
While maybe that’s what “should” be done, and emotionally that outcry makes sense, it would be irresponsible of Telesco to take that route. Here’s why:
**Like I said above, rumors and buzz and theories are why April is called “Liar’s Month” in the NFL. It benefits Telesco for other teams to think he might drop, or might not drop, or might trade, or might not trade, or … You get my drift. He’s not giving away his chess move. A team might make a decision based on what Telesco MIGHT do and that ambiguity and uncertainty can be beneficial for the Chargers.
**Telesco might be trying to trade Rivers, but he also might not have ANY intention of trading Rivers – or he might have initially, but has now abandoned the idea — and even if he knows that, he still can’t say he 100-percent-pinky-swear–blood-of-my-first-born WON’T do something because what if he gets an offer he can’t refuse? What if he didn’t plan on trading Rivers but some eleventh-hour, one-or-two-days-before-the-draft negotiation happens? What if he does the trade? Then he’s a liar. Telesco doesn’t want to be a liar.
I’m not defending all the crazy talk surrounding the Chargers right now – in fact, yesterday I wrote specifically on that topic – but I am saying that if you want to be angry, be angry that there was a press conference in general. (Just remember that if there wasn’t a press conference, you’d probably be angry about that too. And that is why I love you, Mr. Fan.) I’m also not defending vague, curt answers all season from a certain head coach (that just becomes tired).
Telesco wanted to talk draft. He got firing squad because McCoy, Spanos have been absent. First time media could ask questions. #chargers
— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) April 22, 2015
Be angry that Telesco had to field a volley of questions about Los Angeles because we haven’t heard from the Spanos family. Be angry that there might be a reason that it makes sense to trade Philip Rivers — either for his benefit or the team’s — even though the thought of that makes you as sad as a lost kitten in the rain. Be angry at certain draft picks or free agency moves if you want. Just don’t be angry at a GM for participating in a (likely mandatory, per league rules) press conference where he’s trying to protect his hand.
Do you agree with Annie or do you see the situation differently? Leave your comment below!