Former NFL GM AJ Smith Dead At 75

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Powell Sports and Entertainment Blogger
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Known for being the Los Angeles Chargers’ winningest general manager in franchise history, A.J. Smith has passed away at 75 years old, according to an announcement Sunday from his son Kyle Smith per the NFL.

In the announcement, Kyle noted that his dad had been going through a battle against prostate cancer for years now, per the league. (RELATED: Ric Flair Says He Suffered A Heart Attack During His Last Match)

“Belying a tough, matter of fact and no-nonsense persona – one synonymous with that of a true football guy – was A.J.’s softer side which included a tremendous love for his family, the NFL and the Chargers. The architect of one of the greatest chapters in franchise history, A.J. made everyone around him better with a singular focus and intensity that elevated our organization,” Chargers owner and board chair Dean Spanos said in an official statement.

Like most, Smith had to work his way up in the NFL, starting out as a part-time scout for the Chargers organization (when they were in San Diego) to becoming the general manager of the franchise in 2003.

In his 10 years as the Chargers GM, Smith won a total of 98 games, elevating the team to its best years that stretched from 2003 to 2012.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, moments associated with Smith took place in the 2004 NFL Draft when then-Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning and his dad, Archie, demanded the Chargers to not take him with the No. 1 overall pick. Well, that’s exactly what Smith and then-San Diego did, eventually orchestrating a trade to the New York Giants where the Chargers would land NC State quarterback Philip Rivers and multiple draft picks.