Page 2 staff
You might think of San Diego as laid-back and elegant. You might think it's too sunny and smooth to be a decent football town. But old beachcombers will tell you a different story. They'll wax poetic about Lance Alworth and Chuck Muncie, they'll pledge allegiance to Fouts and Coryell. Heck, some of them will even try to convince you that Stan Humphries was the equal of Steve Young in '94 -- those folks are kind of delusional, sure, but they're passionate and you've got to respect that.
The conventional wisdom is that the team's fortunes rest on the arm of young quarterback Drew Brees, but the savvy locals will tell you to keep an eye on Brees' targets, especially Curtis Conway. They're looking for a big season from the 10-year vet; big numbers, big plays, big leadership ... and a big bump in the won-loss record.
Is Conway ready to deliver? We sent Mary Buckheit with 10 Burning Questions to find out if he still had the moves. The verdict? Rest easy, Chargers fans -- Mary is quick and savvy, but Conway was always one step ahead.
1. Page 2: How was training camp? We hear you Chargers have quite the vacation resort in La Jolla -- mini-suites, golf carts -- must be nice ...
Curtis Conway: Whoa, I'd like to disagree with that ... it's not quite a vacation. We are up at 6 a.m. and in the room by 10 p.m. We have somewhere to be every hour on the hour; the scheduling is so tight, we hardly have a minute to ourselves. But it's true, you can't beat the weather in San Diego. It's beautiful out here. Not too hot -- I've been out in the Midwest, and I feel for those guys who have to practice in that heat.
Any good pranks in camp this year?
Conway: Nothing particularly funny, though one day we did tie up a strength coach and cut his hair.
2. So what's your favorite play in the playbook this year?
We can get behind that. You're on our fantasy team -- and we're expecting big numbers.
Conway: You want big numbers? Then do me a favor -- call my offensive coordinator and get Drew Brees on the phone, too, and tell them to get me the ball ... I'll give you your big numbers.
3. You guys kick off with the Bengals -- what is your pregame ritual, what will you do to get psyched?
Conway: I'll tell you what I won't do: I won't eat. I cannot eat before games. I just can't do it. No pregame meal for me. I can pig out right before practice, no problem, but on game day I starve. It's nerves, I still get those pregame jitters every time. It's been like that since high school. I can't wait to touch the ball, I can't wait to get hit. If I ate anything, I'd throw up.
4. Bon Jovi headlined NFL's Kickoff event this year in Times Square ... did you pick him out? You a big Jovi fan?
5. So, major league baseball averted a strike the other day ... do you football players care?
Do you think football is the new American pastime?
Conway: I think it is. And that's not to take anything away from baseball, but fans really get into our season. There is just too much baseball and basketball -- they go on for so long. Our season is short and concentrated -- it keeps fans following every game.
Conway: Details. The man is all about detail. You can't just call out a play and throw it on the field. We have to draw it out, write it down, remember every step. To him the entire process is sooo important, every little thing along the way, not just what is supposed to happen at the end. Details, details, details.
In one word, what stands between the San Diego Chargers and a Super Bowl ring?
Conway: Injuries. There is so much talent in this league, we need all our soldiers to have a shot.
7. Name the one guy you are most happy to have on your team.
Name one DB, from any time in the history of the league, who you'd hate to see on the other side of the line.
Conway: Jack Tatum. Vicious. They didn't play football back then like we play football now. We have all kinds of rules to protect us. Tatum was a monster, he was out to kill you.
Conway: "Wild Style!" Marcellus Wiley. It sort of comes from his name, but it really just fits him all over, for a whole lot of reasons. It's perfect for him, trust me!
9. What's the relationship between Drew Brees and Doug Flutie really like?
Conway: It's hard, you know. You've got two guys who are both very talented and both very competitive. We can't have them both on the field at the same time, so of course it's hard for whoever ends up on the sideline. The positive is that we've got two quarterbacks that we can win with. Whether it's Drew out there or Doug, we know either one can get the job done.
Conway: The maturity level there is outstanding. Doug has been around the game for so long. He really knows how to handle himself and the situation without losing his competitive edge. And Drew is such a mature kid. I think he learned a lot from Doug in the past two years. I think that when you are friends like that, it doesn't do any good to pull an attitude or turn it into a grudge match. You can only have one guy on the field.
10. Tell us one thing we don't know about Curtis Conway
Conway: He has to sleep with a fan on. No matter what the temperature, I need the fan to put me to sleep. It's my security blanket. One more thing is that I have to play at least one game of Playstation per day. If I'm ready for bed and I realize I haven't played one yet, I go grab the controller and play a quick game of NBA Live. I can't go a day without it.