Cool Winslow Won’t Answer Thirsty Probe
“No questions, no answers, no nothing.”
That terse utterance served as Kellen Winslow’s attempt to clear the air surrounding his two-day disappearance that left the Chargers wondering about his welfare earlier this week.
The Chargers tight end materialized in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium on Wednesday, huddled with Coach Don Coryell, learned he had been slapped with a $500 fine and proceeded blithely about his business.
There was only a brief explanation from Coryell about what prompted Winslow to leave San Diego without informing the team and fly to Vancouver, B.C., to promote a Gatorade-like drink in which he has invested.
“He wanted to get out of town and think things over,” Coryell said. “It wasn’t premeditated. He’d canceled this venture earlier. It would’ve really disturbed me if it had been premeditated.”
Coryell declined to amplify on just what he meant, referring further questions to Winslow, who might as well have referred them to John Tudor or Joaquin Andujar.
“Kellen came in and it’s all squared away,” Coryell said. “He’ll be fined like any other player would be for missing a workout. He didn’t give any reason for not calling us (about his travel plans).”
Winslow, who made a limited appearance in Sunday’s win over Denver, didn’t show for practice Monday and efforts by the Chargers to reach him were unsuccessful. It was learned he had gone to Vancouver to make an appearance at the Mandarin Hotel on behalf of International Nutrition Technology, makers of the soft drink “Lytes” in which Winslow has an interest.
If Winslow was unhappy about his limited participation in Sunday’s game, as was generally assumed by many close to the team, there was no new evidence Wednesday when the player rejoined his teammates.
“He didn’t say anything to me during the game,” said tight end Pete Holohan. “I don’t think this is a big deal.”
Holohan’s point was repeated by several players, most of whom were reluctant to discuss the subject at all. With an important rematch against the Raiders scheduled for Sunday, there was a sensible desire to minimize any impact of Winslow’s action on team unity.
“The focus of this team is on the Raiders,” said quarterback Dan Fouts, proceeding to deliver an oration any aspiring politician would do well to study. “We feel good about ourselves. We like our chances.
“The teams we have to beat to make a difference in our season--the Raiders and the Broncos--are right in front of us the next two weeks. That’s really an exciting prospect for us. We have so many guys playing well right now, Pete Holohan and Eric Sievers, Gary Anderson and Little Train James, Charlie Joiner and Wes Chandler.”
Right, Dan. But what about Winslow? Did you sense he was unhappy during Sunday’s game?
“There’s so much happening during a game,” Fouts said. “I wasn’t aware of anything (involving Winslow’s supposed discontent.)”
Linebacker Linden King noticed behavior a bit out of the ordinary.
“After we scored one of our touchdowns,” King said, “I was going out on the field as he was coming to the sidelines. I said something like, ‘Congratulations.’ But Kellen didn’t say anything and I could tell he might be upset about something.”
Like Coryell and other players questioned, King didn’t notice Winslow’s absence from meetings and practice Monday afternoon. “Hey, I’ve got my own job to do,” he said.
Wide receiver Wes Chandler talked at length after Sunday’s game about the pain he endured with an injured right foot, and it was thought he might have taken umbrage at Winslow’s unannounced departure to peddle sodas.
“I’m neutral,” Chandler said. Period.
Lionel James probably spoke for a majority when he said, “It’s too small (an issue) to worry about now. Kellen’s here today, and it’s all right.”
In the end, Winslow’s error wasn’t his desire to blow off a day’s practice. “I think we’ve all thought about doing that,” Fouts said, sympathetically.
To the extent he was faulted by anyone in the organization, it was for his failure to notify anyone of his plans.
Tight ends were much in the news. To replace injured Chris Faulkner, a backup tight end and interior lineman, the Chargers signed defensive lineman Ron Faurot, who had been a No. 1 draft choice of the New York Jets two years ago. He started nine games as a rookie, then was converted to a linebacker this year before being cut by the Jets. Faurot (6-foot 7-inches and 262 pounds) was a college roommate of Billy Ray Smith at Arkansas . . . Don Coryell said veteran defensive end Keith Ferguson has not recovered from a leg injury that has been bothering him for a couple of weeks. “He hasn’t come on as fast as we had hoped,” Coryell said. “He isn’t moving as quickly as he did in the past.”