Previously the San Diego Chargers now called the Los Angeles Chargers, no matter what the name this team has had some great players over the years. The Phillip Rivers era ended last year and in came this years Offensive Rookie of the Year Winner Justin Herbert so the Chargers are going from one great quarterback to what looks like it’s going to be another. The history of the Chargers franchise was fun to look back on and research and I still to this day can’t believe those loaded teams back in the mid- 2000’s never won a title, but I digress. It’s time to start talking about some of those players so let’s get to my top 5 greatest Chargers of all-time.
Kellen Winslow, Tight End (1979-1987)
Kellen Winslow revolutionized the position of tight end. He was a first-round picks in the 1979 NFL Draft and he did more than justify being taken that early. Winslow topped 1,000 receiving yards three times, made five Pro Bowls, and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.In his nine NFL seasons, all with the Chargers, Winslow caught 541 passes for 6,741 yards and 45 touchdowns. In one of the best playoff performances ever, Winslow caught 13 passes and blocked a potential winning field-goal attempt as the Chargers beat Miami 41-38 in overtime in the 1982 playoffs. Without Winslow I have no idea where the tight end position would be today.
Lance Alworth, Wide Receiver (1962-1970)
Lance Alworth otherwise known as “Bambi” was the main guy in the Chargers passing attack for a team that played in five of the AFL’s 10 championship games. Alworth has 9,584 receiving yards and 81 touchdown catches which only trails Antonio Gates in Chargers franchise history. He was a seven time AFL All-Star and became the first AFL player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1978.
John Hadl, Quarterback (1962-1972)
The history of San Diego quarterbacks is quite amazing. Let’s start with John Hadl. He was one of the best passers in pro football during his 10 year run in San Diego where he utilized star receivers Lance Alworth and Gary Garrison to perfection. Hadl made four AFL All-Star teams and led the league in passing two times. He ranks third in franchise history only behind Philip Rivers and Dan Fouts, in career passing attempts (3,640), completions (1,824), passing yards (26,938) and touchdown passes (201). Speaking of Dan Fouts…
5.) Dan Fouts, Quarterback (1973-1987)
Dan Fouts had the opportunity to play with Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner, Wes Chandler and John Jefferson which makes it easy to see why he racked up such impressive numbers over his career. When Fouts retired he ranked only behind Fran Tarkenton in NFL history in passing yards and completions. He remains the only player in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards in four consecutive seasons. Fouts played his entire career with San Diego, went to six Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
4.) Antonio Gates, Tight End (2003-2018)
Antonio Gates is the Chargers franchise leading receiver in receptions (955), receiving yards (11,841) and touchdowns (116) by a wide margin. Keep in mind Gates was an undrafted free agent who didn’t play football in college, he played basketball. He was originally recruited by the great Nick Saban at Michigan State but left because they wouldn’t let him play football and basketball so he ended up at Kent State where he helped lead them to the Elite Eight. Such a cool story. Gates earned eight consecutive Pro Bowl selections from the 2004 through 2011 seasons and his 236 career games as a Charger, is second only to long snapper David Binn in franchise service time.
3.) LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back (2001-2009)
Tomlinson was one of my favorite running backs to watch play, ever. He possessed a ridiculous combination of speed, strength and elusiveness especially for a guy his size. LT was also a great receiving back as he caught 530 passes as a Charger, including 100 in 2003. Setting the NFL record with rushing touchdowns in 2006 with 28, leading the league with 1,815 yards and grabbing 3 touchdown receptions just for good measure, many call this the single greatest season ever by a running back and I’d have to agree. He holds all the rushing franchise career records, including rushing yards (12,490), rushing touchdowns (138), total touchdowns (153) and yards from scrimmage (16,445). Tomlinson, who also threw seven touchdown passes (crazy) during his career, was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017 on the first ballot.
2.) Phillip Rivers, Quarterback (2004-2020)
Phillip Rivers had a great run in San Diego it’s just unfortunate that he played at a time where Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were in their prime and he never did get to play in a Super Bowl. During his tenure with the Chargers, he was named to eight Pro Bowls while leading the team to four division titles and six postseason appearances. Rivers also helped the team win their first playoff game since 1994 during the 2007 season, leading them to a trip to the AFC Championship Game. He holds active streaks in games played in a row, every major passing record and in my opinion is the best quarterback in Chargers history.
1.) Junior Seau, Linebacker (1990-2002)
Junior Seau is “Mr Charger.” No one was was more synonymous with the franchise than he was in his 13 years with the team. In those 13 years he earned 12 Pro Bowl nominations and won NFL Man of the Year in 1994. Seau had 1,478 tackles, 47 sacks, 15 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and 16 fumble recoveries for the lightning bolts. He was also known for his charity work in the San Diego area which led to his Man of the Year award. We all know how Seau’s life ended due to CTE but I want to keep it positive as he was a once in a lifetime person on and off the field and to me easily the greatest San Diego Charger of all-time.
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