KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- I asked cornerback Brandon Flowers in a phone conversation if making the playoffs in his first season with the San Diego Chargers would be that much sweeter because it would come at the expense of the Kansas City Chiefs, who also need to win on Sunday to qualify for the postseason.
Flowers laughed at the question and paused to compose an answer. I then asked if I could take that as a yes.
Flowers denied that, but there’s no denying a Chargers win on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium would give him the upper hand, at least for now, as to which side got the better deal when the Chiefs released him in June.
The truth is that Flowers’ release was a win for both sides. Flowers was freed to move on from a team with a front office and coaching staff that preferred cornerbacks much bigger than his 5-foot-9 and 187 pounds.
The Chiefs needed the salary cap room his departure afforded. Sean Smith has actually played better this season that Flowers according to Pro Football Focus -- Smith is their fifth-rated cornerback, Flowers No. 14.
While Flowers’ replacements haven’t always played as well as he has this season, they’ve mostly played better than he did for the Chiefs last year. And the Chiefs really haven’t missed Flowers all that much, as they're second in the league in pass defense.
Flowers said he would have been happy to stay in Kansas City and finish his career with the Chiefs, though his actions didn’t seem to indicate that. He stayed away from the offseason conditioning program and practice sessions, but said that wasn’t because he was unhappy playing for the Chiefs.
“It wasn’t a hold out," he said. “It’s normal for guys not to show up for (offseason practice) and mini-camp. I was coming to the mandatory mini-camp. I had a knee injury I was battling all year (in 2013). I have great doctors and guys I work with away from Kansas City that I felt I needed to work with to be healthy for this season."
Flowers played against the Chiefs in October when they beat the Chargers 23-20 in San Diego. He looked out of place in a blue uniform and wearing No. 26, different than the No. 24 he wore for the Chiefs.
He felt the same way seeing the Chiefs come onto the Qualcomm Stadium field without him.
“It was weird, to be honest, when those colors came into the stadium," he said. “All I know (was) being under that helmet."
It will be all business this time.
“I think before the season I was more amped and like ‘Oh, I can’t wait to play this team for the first time,’" Flowers said. “It’s not like I’m into this one game (any more) because it’s my former team. It’s kind of like a regular game now."