Philip Rivers spoke to the media following the first day of training camp, and he inevitably fielded questions regarding Melvin Gordon and the impact his absence would have on the team. Rivers answered that question with the same message as GM Tom Telesco and head coach Anthony Lynn - we love Melvin Gordon, and we still like the running backs that are in camp.
To me, that is the only way to respond to that question. Of course, everyone in the organization believes the team is better, both on and off the field, with Melvin Gordon, and that has been expressed in each of the responses from key members of the Chargers' organization. Of course, they are not going to disrespect Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and Detrez Newsome, and lament at how they are now doomed because Melvin Gordon isn't there.
Nonetheless, Rivers' comments seem to have been taken the wrong way by his absent running back. Melvin Gordon replied to a tweet by division rival, Tyrann Mathieu in which Mathieu expressed that he was surprised by Rivers' comments on the Chargers' running back situation:
This isn't quite as juicy as when Antonio Brown publicly spoke out against Ben Roethlisberger during his high-profile dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it does seem to suggest that this is not just a matter between the front office and Gordon's agents - as I previously thought. At the very least, it seems there will need to be some reconciliation between Rivers and Gordon should a deal ever materialize.
I have been very careful not to criticize Gordon for this holdout, because I genuinely understand why he is doing it. Playing without the security of a multi-year deal is a significant risk for a player - especially a running back. If Gordon plays and gets hurt, it would be devastating to his career. So, I get it. But, this feels petty to me. This feels very much like two divorcing parents trying to use every word against each other in order to win the kids to their side.
If Melvin Gordon didn't want a Gordon-less backfield to be praised, he should have been in camp.