Def. Norved – v. 1. To have everything perfectly in place only to have everything go horribly wrong. 2. To snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 3. To inexplicably, but predictably and consistently fail in new and creative ways.
I’ve been writing letters to Webster’s for years begging for the inclusion of the word “Norved” into our vernacular. So while man cave, energy drink, gassed, and f-bomb all snuck in before Norved, I have faith this season in San Diego will provide such compelling evidence, the good people at Merriam-Webster’s will not deny me any longer.
The San Diego Chargers first got Norved – literally – when GM AJ Smith fired then head coach Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season in 2006 and hired Norval Eugene Turner, February 2007.
Here’s HOW you get Norved. There’s a distinct pattern. As you’ll see, its rather impressive in it’s consistency.
#1- You MUST have talent. The more, the better. The more likable the Turner, the easier it is to get Norved… Because getting Norved isn’t about having a jerk of a head coach, bad drafts, or picking up lousy free agents. No, that just means your franchise stinks. To be Norved properly, you need nice people, firm belief in success, and abundant talent on both sides of the ball.
Like most fan bases, the Charger faithful welcomed their new head coach, with some skepticism, but mainly optimism. Sure, he had a career losing record, but they had the best offense and third best defense and even though Cam Cameron (OC) and Wade Phillips (DC) left to take head coaching jobs in Miami and Dallas respectively, Charger fans concluded, with the talent on the field, a change of guard could surely return the franchise to the Super Bowl.
That next season, 2007, the Chargers started slowly, rebounded in the back end of the season to amass an 11-5 record. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, was a new career high number of wins as a head coach for Norv. A team that regressed 3 games on the season led the man to new heights. Way to set the bar high AJ, ‘preciate that.
That year, the team made it to the AFC Championship game where they lost to the Patriots who were bulldozing the entire NFL on their way to the Super Bowl (which they lost to the Giants). So Charger fans wrapped themselves in a warm blanky and rested on the notion their team was closer than it was in ‘06. Sure the Patriots punted the Bolts out of the playoffs, but they actually won 2 whole playoff games, that’s 2 more in Norv’s first season than Schottenheimer delivered in his 5-year tenure ( Schotty was 0-2- but both Charger losses came by only 3 points each. One to the Jets in 2004, the other to the Pats in 2006). Clearly the team, ranked in the top 5 in nearly every meaningful statistical offensive and defensive category had sufficient talent to go the distance. And that’s the first tenant of being Norved. But the second….
#2 – You have to make mistakes. It’s not enough to have another team beat your team. In order to be properly
Norved, the damage must be self-inflicted. So let’s look at that 2007 AFC Championship game in Gillette to see if the Chargers’ first season under Turner classifies as getting Norved.
a) Tomlinson didn’t play. Groin pull. He was in the starting lineup, ran twice for 5 yards.
b) Tom Brady threw 3 interceptions that day and the Chargers scored all of 4 field goals.
c) Rivers was 19 of 37, no touchdowns and threw two picks. His first, led to a Patriots touchdown after 2 plays and 24 yards.
The final was 21-12. Chargers, the league’s 5th best scoring offense couldn’t score a touchdown. However, that’s still not enough to be classified as Norved. When facing down a juggernaut, there’s no shame in admitting defeat. Even if ugly. However, when facing down a beatable division foe, when you have a 24-0 halftime lead at home in front of the nation… logic may point to victory, Chargers’ just get Norved.
If you witnessed Monday Night Football, that was a particularly breathtakingly efficient Norving of the Chargers. Usually, a team needs 60 full minutes to gak all over their shoes like that. The Chargers managed it in only 30. Up 24-0, they allowed 35 unanswered points. Rivers threw 4 interceptions. They lost the game despite a 4 score lead at half. They won the TOP war by 7 minutes, allowed Denver only 25% on third down conversion and lost by 2 scores.
Now, granted, Peyton Manning is adept at 4th quarter comebacks, and if it were that simple, we’d chalk this win up to Manning’s greatness. But it’s not, so we can’t. Manning threw for 3 TDs. That was the extent of the Broncos offense, which equals 21 points. Clearly not sufficient to overcome a 24 point deficit. The other 2 scoring plays came from the Broncos defense: a pick-6 by Chris Harris and a fumble recovery by Tony Carter that went 65 yards to the house. And I know you must be thinking, “Yeah, that Carter, he’s a stud… he’s always getting big plays on defense…” Or you’re not, because that was the dude’s SECOND career fumble recovery and FIRST touchdown of his 4 year career. That’s called getting Norved boys and girls. This isn’t Ed Reed or Charles Woodson or Troy Polamalu picking Rivers and making the Chargers look silly, these are journeymen defenders coming up big as the Chargers shrink in the limelight.
And while that’s bad, it’s all made worse by the final and perhaps most egregious aspect of getting Norved…
#3- Emotionless head coach… Jim Harbaugh does dumb stuff, Rex Ryan makes boneheaded moves for us to criticize and call out, but, BUT, you will not find their teams getting Norved because they SHOW EMOTION! There’s people around them that require windshield wipers, there’s damage done to ear drums, they exhibit visceral and instinctive emotion customized for the instant.
Then there’s Norv. no emotion no sense of urgency or reason to feel anything but the breeze and perhaps decide whether ryan mathews should be rushing or jackie battle will suffice… WAKE UP NORV!
As the Chargers are getting their butts handed to them, shots of Norv Turner on the sidelines make you wonder what color curtains he’s picking out. Perhaps he’s deciding between chartreuse or champagne, but he sure doesn’t look like he’s in as much searing pain as the fans watching at home.
So that’s when you turn to your buddy and say, “We’ve been Norved.” Shake your head and move on with your day.
The Chargers have sufficient talent to break out of the AFC West. But they keep crumbling when adversity hits and their leader stands stoically on the sidelines allowing the miscues to sink the ship… and watch out Cowboy fans, just because your head coach has a last name that would be clumsy to make into a verb doesn’t mean it’s not happening to you. Even with Jason Garrett on the sidelines, that pit in your stomach, it’s from getting Norved weekly.
Turner is a great man. Extraordinarily likeable and wonderful to be around. But the franchise has had enough Norvings to last a decade. Time to move on.
FULL DISCLOSURE ON VIDEO: I might be a little biased. In 2010, I made 2 separate bets with my radio producer at the time, Tom Riesgo, who is a Raiders fan. I bet the Chargers would beat the Raiders both times. I lost both bets. And stood in front of a whip cream pie firing squad. I can still hear the fake dairy product in my ears.