San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers Football
The San Diego Chargers are an NFL team based in the state of California. Located in the AFC West, they were originally known as the Los Angeles Chargers and played in the AFL. They have yet to win a Super Bowl since the merger between the NFL and AFL, although they did win the AFL Championship four times. Their home games have been held at Qualcomm Stadium since 1967.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers began play in 1960 as one of the original eight AFL teams. The team’s original owner was Barron Hilton, the grandfather of Nicky and Paris Hilton. After one season, the team moved to San Diego in 1961.
During their time in the AFL, the team was coached exclusively by Sid Gillman. The team was known for their explosive offense, and players such as Lance Alworth, Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln and John Hadl led the team to its first AFL title in 1963.
The team was also strong on defense, and a group anchored by Ernie Ladd and Earl Faison came to be known as the “Fearsome Foursome.”
Don Coryell and the 70′s
After the NFL/AFL merger, the team seemed to falter, as they lost many of their star players to retirement. The Chargers brought in veterans like Johnny Unitas and Deacon Jones, but the team continued to struggle.
In 1978, the team was part of the “Holy Roller” game against the Raiders. The Chargers were up by six points with 10 seconds left in the game. Ken Stabler was sacked and fumbled the ball, but a number of Raider players were able to keep batting the ball forward until it rolled into the endzone and was recovered. Following the extra point, the Raiders won the game 21-20. This play is also known as the “Immaculate Deception.”
Things turned around in 1979, as the offense began clicking under quarterback Dan Fouts, running back Chuck Muncie, receiver John Jefferson and coach Don Coryell. Due to the emphasis on passing, the offense was known as “Air Coryell.”
The Chargers clinched their first playoff spot in 14 years, but they would later fall to the Houston Oilers in the divisional round.
A Mixed Bag
The 80s were a mixed bag for the team. While they made the playoffs in 1980 – 1982 (including the “Epic in Miami” in 1981), they then began a slide which didn’t end until 1992. That was the next time that they would appear in the playoffs.
Fouts retired in 1988 after a 15-year career. He ended his career with 43,040 passing yards.
Bobby Ross was hired as the head coach in 1992, and the team included players such as running back Marion Butts and Stan Humphries at quarterback. They reached the playoffs that season , but the Dolphins eliminated them in the divisional round. The following year, the team finished 8-8.
In 1994, a defense led by Junior Seau, Reuben Davis, Shawn Lee and Leslie O’Neal propelled the Chargers all the way to Super Bowl XXIX. There, they would lose to the 49ers (and Jerry Rice and Joe Montana).
Falling on Hard Times
The team made the playoffs the following year, but things were starting to look shaky. Stan Humphries retired due to concussions, and the team drafted quarterback Ryan Leaf. A number of coaches came and went during this period, and the team wouldn’t be back in the playoffs until 2004.
In the 2001 draft, the Chargers selected running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Drew Brees. They finished 5-11, but Tomlinson was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Tomlinson was given the nickname “LT2,” with Giants’ legend Lawrence Taylor being the other “LT.”
Although they were one of the worst teams in 2003, the NFL San Diego Chargers bounced back in 2004. Drew Brees was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year, while coach Marty Schottenheimer was awarded with Coach of the Year honors. They would go on to be eliminated by the Jets in the first round of the playoffs.
In 2006, the team finished 14-2 and were the #1 seed in the AFC. Unfortunately, they lost a home playoff game to the Patriots in the final minutes.
The Chargers put together another strong season in 2007, finishing the year at 11-5. Led by coach Norv Turner, the team almost made the Super Bowl, instead losing to the then-undefeated Patriots in the conference championship.
Chargers Team Logo
Since their debut in 1960, the Chargers have used the arc-shaped lightning bolt as their symbol. During the AFL years, the team also featured a horse’s head on their logo, as well as the word “Chargers.”
Hall of Fame and Retired Numbers
The following Chargers have been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame: Lance Alworth, Fred Dean, Dan Fouts, Sid Gillman, Charlie Joiner, Deacon Jones, Ron Mix, and Kellen Winslow.
The team has also retired the following players’ jerseys: Dan Fouts (14) and Lance Alworth (19).
Current Chargers Stars
The following players are the biggest stars on the San Diego roster:
- Philip Rivers (QB)
- LaDainian Tomlinson (RB)
- Chris Chambers (WR)
- Vincent Jackson (WR)
- Antonio Gates (TE)
- Kris Dielman (Center)
- Luis Castillo (DE)
- Shawne Merriman (LB)
- Quentin Jammer (CB)
- Antoine Cason (CB)