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CHARGER REVIEW : NOTEBOOK : Henning Wants Bernstine to Return

After Rod Bernstine ran 27 times for 114 yards, Coach Dan Henning said it would be his recommendation to the front office to sign and keep Bernstine for next season.

There have been rumors that the Chargers have been unhappy with Bernstine and his penchant for being hurt. He becomes a free agent Feb. 1, and he’s represented by Ralph Cindrich, who was involved in Gary Anderson’s negotiations.

“Bernstine is a hell of a player,” General Manager Bobby Beathard said. “The question on Bernstine is the same this year, last year, whenever. If you can guarantee if he’s going to be healthy for 16 games . . . nobody can guarantee that.

“Every time we discuss Rod that comes up,” said Beathard. “When he’s healthy he plays like hell. I think he can be a big part of this offense. We’re going to try real hard to sign him, but it won’t be easy.”

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Beathard said, “Yeah, we’d like to keep him,” but does that mean the Chargers will keep him?

“I’ll continue to go out and give it my all each game when healthy,” Bernstine said. “It’s up to the coaching staff or the GM to get my contract done. Hopefully they want me.

“Like I’ve said all along I want to be here. It’s a question now if they want me here. It’s not like I go out and try to get hurt. I’d like to see myself go through 16 games and see how many yards I could compile. I think me and Marion (Butts) could both get a 1,000 here.”

Normally mild-mannered, linebacker Billy Ray Smith let the officials have it after the Chargers lost, 17-12.

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“It’s mysterious to me how the officials can (bleep) so many calls in a single game on one side,” he said. “It blows my mind.”

Smith took offense to a pass interference call on Sam Seale, a holding call on Broderick Thompson and an official’s ruling that Anthony Miller didn’t get out of bounds to stop the clock.

“They need to get full-time guys who aren’t bankers, lawyers and school teachers,” Smith said. “Make them be accountable for the money they get for officiating these games.”

Smith was asked if players can be fined like coaches for criticizing the officials.

“I don’t care; what are they going to do, suspend me for a game?” he said. “I just think they like officiating in LA so they can come back and get a little southern California nightlife. . . . I have no idea (why it happens).”

Smith was also perturbed the officials’ refusal to call a penalty on the Raiders’ Greg Townsend after he tossed quarterback John Friesz to the ground.

“When they take Friesz and flip the guy over, you gotta be kidding me. That’s only right out in the middle of the field. What are they going to tell me they didn’t see that? To the quarterback? How can they justify that? Do they figure he’s a young guy and needs to get used to it? What’s the deal?”

Pop composer Hoyt Axton’s rendition of the National Anthem sounded a lot better than Roseanne Barr’s, but Axton ran into trouble when he got to the “Oh say does that Star-Spangled Banner . . .” He sang ‘Oh . . .,” paused for a second and said sheepishly: “I’ll be damned. I forgot the rest of it.”

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Boos followed. Axton said: “Don’t boo me, I’m a Raiders fan.” That brought a few cheers. Then, Axton stumbled through the last lines and walked off, receiving several sympathetic handshakes and pats on the shoulder from bystanders on the field.

The troubled season of Charger safety Vencie Glenn ended on a troubling note.

Glenn, who missed time earlier this season because of a concussion and then because of a hamstring pull, suffered a sprained shoulder on the Raiders’ first possession. Glenn left the field on a cart and was unable to play the remainder of the game.

Glenn, sensitive to suggestions that he has not had a good year, said he’s heard rumors he might not be protected in Plan B free agency and might not be back with the Chargers next season.

“I think it’s 50-50 I’ll be back,” said Glenn, who had one interception this season. “But I know this, I can play. And I’ll be playing somewhere next season.”

The last time he was at the Coliseum, in an exhibition game Sept. 1, he threw a punch and was tossed from the game.

Charger linebacker Junior Seau not only stayed around for the whole game, but he recorded his first NFL sack.

Seau pulled Jay Schroeder to the ground in the waning moments of the first half for a 12-yard loss. After getting to his feet, Seau threw his fist into the air in celebration.

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“I was excited at the time,” Seau said. “We were winning at the time. The loss really took a lot away from it.”

What we’ve got here is a quarterback controversy. Billy Joe Tolliver or John Friesz?

“I really believe they can do it,” said quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner. “It’s gotta happen fast; it’s gotta happen next year. But I believe we can win with what we have.”

After his NFL debut Friesz said, “It’s not the Big Sky (Conference).

“I didn’t do that much to hurt us and didn’t do that much to help us,” Friesz said. “I think there will probably be four of us competing next year. They’ll have another guy from the draft or Plan B.

“None of us proved this year we could do it; we all had good moments, but we couldn’t make the plays when needed.”

Something to ponder while watching the Raiders on TV in the playoffs.

“San Diego pushes a lot of teams to the envelope and finds a way to lose,” Raiders defensive lineman Howie Long said. “The Raiders push teams to the envelope and find ways to win. San Diego is a minute away from being 10-6.”

Or a year away from going 6-10 for the fourth year in a row.


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