San Diego Chargers Greatest Quarterbacks
Phillip Rivers is just the latest of many top flight quarterbacks that have played for the San Diego Chargers since the franchise's inception in 1960.
In today's win, or you never existed world we live in, great players have not always won the big one.
That should not diminish the way we Charger fans view their skills and contributions.
Lets face it, if all we had to go by is who won the Super Bowl, the Hall of Fame would be missing more than a few bronzed players.
Effort should be recognized as well, any of us would trade places in a heart beat to be remembered as even the worst quarterback of all time; because no matter what happened, we played in the NFL.
The Chargers have not won a Super Bowl, but it sure ain't from a lack of effort. No one wants it more than we do, but it just has not been in the cards as of yet.
Unfortunately, the Bleacher Report photo archives do not have images of Charger QB John Hadl, who teamed with Lance Alworth to form the most effective passing combo in AFL history, but I will try to cover the rest.
The Chargers have been fortunate enough to have had several longime starting quarterbacks. The list is rather short compared to other teams in the NFL.
Johnny Unitas was a Charger quarterback in 1973
Legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas finished his career with the Chargers, although he probably shouldn't have.
Unitas was finished physically, but the will to keep playing put him in Lightning Bolts in 1973. Footage of Johnny U in a Chargers uniform is rare indeed, and there are no photos of him in the Bleacher Report archives wearing Charger colors.
He retired after the 1973 season.
Unitas won the NFL Championship in 1958 as a member of the Baltimore Colts, and is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Unitas played 17 NFL seasons. He finished his career with 2,830 completions in 5,186 attempts for 40,239 yards, and 290 touchdowns. He also accounted for 253 interceptions.
Unitas rushed for 1,777 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Jim McMahon spent a season in San Diego
For those of you who were not even born yet, the Chargers traded a 1990 draft pick to the Chicago Bears in 1989 for quarterback Jim McMahon.
McMahon started 12 games for the Chargers in 1989. He went 4-8. Four of those losses were by a combined 11 points.
Unfortunately for Jim he was placed with then Chargers head coach Dan "it's not my fault" Henning.
It was a union destined to fail. Henning had an ego as big as McMahon's.
Jim eventually ended up with the Eagles fo finish his career. Given time, and better players around him, McMahon could have flourished in San Diego. Jimbo was never given a chance to finish what he started.
Stan Humphries led the Chargers to their first Super Bowl in 1994
Vastly underrated, Stan Humphries arrived in San Diego in 1992. He took the Bolts to the playoffs in three of his first five seasons as a Charger.
Humphries had a cannon of an arm, and great football instincts, making him almost impossible to defeat.
Stan's greatest game was the 1994 AFC Championship game at Pittsburgh. The entire country had picked the Steelers to wipe the Chargers off the field.
Humphries threw two clutch TD passes to Tony Martin and Alfred Pupunu that day. He held his breath with the rest of us as the Chargers D made the two scores stand up.
This victory is still the biggest win in Charger history.
Humphries also holds a piece of the record for longest touchdown pass, a 99-yard strike to Tony Martin in Seattle in 1994.
Concussions forced Humphries into early retirement in 1997.
Doug Flutie came to play in 2001
Doug Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner, came to San Diego in the wake of a 1-15 season in 2000.
Flutie showed leadership skills, as well as an undying will to win. Flutie was handicapped by an inferior Chargers team during his time as a Bolt, but he still managed some legendary performances in Charger blue.
Flutie led the way to defeating the Minnesota Vikings in 2001, running, jumping and passing his way to a 41 point afternoon. This is still one of the greatest individual performances in team history.
Doug Flutie played in the NFL, United States Football League and Canadian Football League. Flutie holds many CFL records, including three league championships as a memeber of the Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts.
Flutie is also the all-time record holder for passing yardage in a season, throwing for 6,619 yards. He was named CFL MVP six times.
He retired after the 2004 season.
Drew Brees helped turn around a losing Charger team
Drew Brees had only one thing working against him as quarterback of the Chargers, and that was Phillip Rivers waiting in the wings.
Brees has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. Last season he came within a few yards of breaking Dan Marino's all time single season passing yardage record. The final play of the final game was a pass, that would have set the record, except Brees missed a wide open receiver.
His time in San Diego was too brief, but his impact lives on. Rivers learned from Brees all the little skills that Brees had learned from Doug Flutie. Brees versus Rivers in the Super Bowl would be an all-time classic.
Phillip Rivers has already taken his place with the Chargers greatest quarterbacks.
Phillip Rivers is the unquestioned leader of the San Diego Chargers. His performance in three seasons has been the stuff of legends, guiding the Chargers to the playoffs in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Rivers holds the record for consecutive biggest comebacks in NFL history, erasing 17-point deficits against Denver and Cincinatti in 2006.
The Chargers went 14-2 in his first season as a starter, falling to the New England Patriots in the playoffs on a fluke interception/fumble by the Chargers defense.
Rivers led the Chargers back into the playoffs in 2007, defeating Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts at Indy, as well as defeating the Tennessee Titans in a home playoff thriller.
New England once again knocked Rivers out of the playoffs, with Rivers playing the entire game on a torn ACL.
In 2008 the Chargers were 4-8 when Rivers grabbed them by the throat, and WILLED them to an amazing run to the division title; while the Denver Broncos gagged it away.
The Chargers once again defeated the Colts in the playoffs, but could not over come a tenacious Pittsburgh Steeler defense the following week in Pittsburgh.
Look for great things from Phillip Rivers in 2009.
Dan Fouts was born to wear Lightning Bolts.
Air Coryell's Top Gun.
Dan Fouts remains the greatest quarterback in Chargers history, playing his entire career here in San Diego. Fouts still holds many team records, and his leadership skills are beyond criticism.
Fouts played 15 seasons for the Chargers, taking them to three divsion titles in 1979, 1980 and 1981. Dan retired as the all-time passing yardage leader with over 40,000 yards. He has since been surpassed, but when Fouts retired, he was number one.
From 1973, until his retirement after the 1987 season, no quarterback was more respected or feared than Dan Fouts. He still sets the standard by which all Charger quarterbakcs are measured.
Fouts was a six-time Pro Bowl player, and he led the league in passing yardage four times.
Fouts threw for 400+ yards in a game several times, and participated in two of the five NFL games in which both quarterbacks threw for 400 yards or more.
Dan Fouts is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, and a football announcer for CBS. His apperance in the film The Water Boy is legendary.