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Ex-Charger Reflects on Past 5 Years

Florence calls Schottenheimer firing "a little strange"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Drayton Florence #29 of the Buffalo Bills looks on as snow falls on the field during their NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills defeated the Colts 30-7.

    Drayton Florence walked off the Bills indoor practice field Wednesday afternoon in Orchard Park, N.Y., knowing too well what was waiting outside.

    The bulk of another snowstorm was coming, just part of the ex-Chargers cornerback's life on the East Coast.

    "It's always good to come to a warm-weather city," said Florence, who gets his chance this week, arriving in San Diego early Friday evening and facing his former team Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium. "It's going to be exciting to come back and compete against those guys."

    The reunion for the 2003 second-round Chargers draft pick comes at a tough time, as his nearly 20 remaining teammates from that AFC Championship group he vacated in 2008 are scratching uphill in Week 14 for their playoff lives.

    A reflective Florence offered perspective Wednesday on the past five years, particularly when former Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer was fired following a divisional-round playoff loss to the Patriots after the 2006 season.

    "I thought it was a little strange for us to go 14-2 and our head coach to get fired," Florence, 31, said. "This business is about production. When you're producing and you get fired, ... I guess there's a lot more to the situation than the media knew and the players knew. I guess they felt that was the best decision for the team at the time. You know, they haven't won a Super Bowl, so I'm guessing everybody's got a different opinion on it.”

    Florence, who says he looks back on his time in San Diego fondly and with no ill-will, started 43 regular-season games in five years with the Chargers. He played in four playoff games, intercepting a pass in each of the final three, including the fateful 24-21 loss to New England on Jan. 20, 2007.

    Schottenheimer was fired in February after the team saw both its coordinators take head coaching jobs elsewhere. Chargers president Dean Spanos characterized that situation's handling and general work relationship between Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith as "dysfunctional."

    "I must take whatever steps are necessary to deliver a Super Bowl trophy to San Diego," Spanos said in a statement at the time. "Events of the last month have now convinced me that it is not possible for our organization to function at a championship level under the current structure."

    Smith hired Norv Turner during a Super Bowl-or-bust Chargers era, and those inherited expectations bring the team to the present.

    Five years and zero Lombardis later, fans clamor for change, and should the team miss the playoffs for the second straight year, Spanos may just listen.

    Florence sees snowfall back east.

    Out west, it's snowballed.