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Monday, December 2, 2002
Richey not surprised he's gone

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Erratic kicker Wade Richey was cut by the San Diego Chargers on Monday, a day after he was benched midgame for sending a kickoff out of bounds.

Richey was making $525,000 this year just to kick off. He lost his placekicking job late last season when the Chargers signed Steve Christie, one of the best clutch kickers in NFL history.

General manager John Butler signed Richey in April 2001 as a restricted free agent from San Francisco after the Chargers revoked their offer to popular longtime kicker John Carney.

Butler was undergoing treatment for his lung cancer on Monday and wasn't available for comment, a team spokesman said.

"I was prepared for it to happen,'' Richey said. "I went in today knowing there was a good chance I'll be cut. I've been around long enough to know if you're not producing, you have to go. I was hurting this team.''

Even before he came to San Diego, Richey earned the nickname "Wide'' Richey because he had only a 75 percent field-goal accuracy rate in three seasons with San Francisco. He missed 11 of 32 attempts with the Chargers last year and his career percentage dropped to 72.1 percent.

The Chargers kept Richey because of his strong leg on kickoffs -- he was second in the NFL with 16 touchbacks -- but he's kicked several out of bounds this year.

The one in Sunday's 30-27 overtime win over Denver was a big factor. With the Chargers (8-4) leading 21-10 after LaDainian Tomlinson's third touchdown of the second quarter, it gave the Broncos the ball at their 40. Three plays later, Clinton Portis scored to pull the Broncos to 21-17.

Schottenheimer screamed at Richey on the sideline after the kickoff went out of bounds. Christie handled the next kickoff and Richey got one more shot, but sent the opening kick of the second half only to the Denver 19. Christie did the rest of the kicking.

"It was time to make a change,'' Schottenheimer said Monday.

Schottenheimer wasn't sure if the Chargers will sign another kicker. Until they make up their minds, Christie will handle kickoffs.

The Chargers have two roster spots available. Besides the one vacated by Richey, defensive tackle Jamal Williams went on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his dislocated left ankle.

Although Christie has kicked two game-winning field goals in overtime this year, he's only 11-for-18 overall (61.1 percent).

Christie kicked the winning 27-yard field goal with 3:01 left in overtime Sunday, but he had a 38-yarder blocked earlier in overtime and missed two in regulation.

Schottenheimer blamed the blocked field goal on poor footing at Qualcomm Stadium. "It was kind of greasy out there,'' Schottenheimer said.

"But he made the one he had to make to win the game,'' Schottenheimer said. "As long as he keeps doing that, we're all right.''

It was Christie's ninth overtime field goal, tying him for the career lead with Jim Breech.

While the Chargers' kicking game has struggled, Carney is 48-for-55 (87.2 percent) in two seasons with New Orleans.