Former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith has passed away at age 75

A.J. Smith, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Chargers
, then in San Diego, has passed away, as confirmed by members of his family. He hasn’t been with the team since 2012 but left an indelible mark. 

Smith’s career as an executive dates back to 1977 when he was hired as a scout by the New York Giants. The Chargers brought him aboard to be the pro personnel director in 1985, a post he held for two years. He then spent several years as a member of the Buffalo Bills front office during the team’s most successful run, which included four trips to the Super Bowl. 

He came back to the Chargers in 2001 along with John Butler as the director of pro personnel and assistant general manager. He and Butler were at the helm when the team drafted Eli Manning in 2001, despite Manning saying he would not play for the team

During that draft, the Chargers traded the draft rights to Manning to the New York Giants in exchange for the draft rights to Philip Rivers. The move worked out for both sides. 

When Butler passed away in 2003, Smith took over as the team’s only general manager, staying in that position for another 10 years. Fans and members of the media often criticized him during his tenure but he put together several successful teams. 

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He won more games as general manager of the Chargers than anyone else.

While he had some draft misses, he found players such as Shawne Merriman, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles, Antonio Cromartie, Eric Weddle and Melvin Ingram, all impactful players for the team. 

He joined the Washington Redskins in 2013 as a senior consultant after he and the Chargers parted ways in 2012. He stayed with them for three years in that role and retired in 2015.

All told, Smith spent 37 seasons in the NFL. 

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