The San Diego Chargers got their start in the AFL back in 1960, in Los Angeles, before heading south to San Diego. Their first few seasons were the opposite of the last few seasons have been. They played for the League championship 5 times in their first 6 seasons, winning the AFL Championship in their 4th season (1963). The last four seasons in So Cal have been rough to say the least. The Chargers haven’t won double digit games since 2009 (13-3), since then they’ve had 3 9-7 finishes, with an 8-8, 7-9 and 4-12 records causing them to miss the playoffs the past two seasons.
Even with their recent struggles on the field, and the uncertainty over where they’ll play in the future, the Chargers and San Diego have enjoyed tremendous success in their 56 seasons. The “Super Chargers” have won 421 regular season games, 1 AFC Championship, 15 Division titles, and made the playoffs 18 times. Eight former Chargers have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but only four make this list.
- No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
- Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
- Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.
Junior Seau (1990-2002) is an icon in Southern California due to his days as a USC Trojan, through his days as a Charger. Seau is first in all-time career tackles (1,286) and recovered fumbles by the opposition (16) in team history. When he left the team in 2002 he was first in games played (200), he’s now 2nd. He’s 3rd in forced fumbles (11), and 4th in sacks (47). #55 is a 12-time Pro Bowl Selection, 10-time All-Pro, the 1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, Chargers 40th and 50th Anniversary and the NFL 1990s All-Decade Teams. In 2012 the Chargers retired his jersey number, and in 2015 he was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ladainian Tomlinson (2001-2009) is the Chargers all-time leader in games played by a running back (141), rushing yards (12,490), rushing touchdowns (138), and carries (2,880). He also scored the most touchdowns in team history when you combine his rushing and 15 receiving touchdowns (153). “LT” was the 2006 NFL MVP, the same season he set the NFL record for most combined touchdowns scored in one season (31). The 5-time Pro Bowler and 6-time All-Pro is tied for the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown in one season (18). Tomlinson is a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, 50th Anniversary Team and NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Tomlinson was ranked 61st on NFL.com’s “100 Greatest Players” list in 2010. The team retied his jersey number 21 in 2015.
Antonio Gates (2003-present) is San Diego’s all-time leader in catches (844), receiving yards (10,644) and receiving touchdowns (104). 77 of his touchdowns were from Phillip Rivers, which is an NFL Record for a QB and TE combination. Gates, an 8-time Pro Bowl selection and 5-time All-Pro, is only the second tight end in NFL history to catch 100+ touchdowns. He is a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
Lance Alworth (1962-1970) finished his career with the Chargers as its all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Four and a half decades later he’s still 2nd in receiving yards (9,584) and receiving touchdowns (81), and 5th in catches 493. Alworth played in an era when teams rushed majority of the time as opposed to passing, yet still holds 7 AFL-NFL receiving records. The 7-time AFL All-Star and 6-time All-AFL performer led the Chargers to their only league championship in 1963 when they played in the AFL. Alworth has the Pro Football record for most games (5) with 200+ receiving yards, a record he shares with Calvin Johnson. He is a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, AFL All-Time Team, Chargers Hall of Fame, and Chargers 40th and 50th Anniversary Teams. The Chargers have retired Alworth’s number 19 jersey, which was very popular during the Mitchell and Ness throwback craze of the early 2000s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978. In 2010, NFL.com ranked him 38th on their “100 Greatest Players” list.
There you have it. Charger fans, agree or disagree? If you disagree, who would you have rather seen on the list (Philip Rivers, Kellen Winslow Sr.) and who would you replace?