Lance Alworth is the greatest San Diego Charger of all time.
“Bambi” may not be in most discussions as one of the best wide receivers of all time, but that is due to lack of knowledge, not lack of talent. Current discussions revolve around Randy Moss and Chris Carter as the second-best receiver to ever play football. During the NFL Network’s "100 Greatest Players in Pro Football History," Alworth was selected the No. 4 wide receiver of all time (Raymond Berry, Don Hutson and Jerry Rice were higher).
Alworth was the first AFL player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His speed and play-making ability are part of the reason why the AFL was considered faster and more fun than the NFL during the ‘60s.
His No. 19 is retired in the rafters of Qualcomm Stadium, and for good reason.
Alworth helped define a team, a uniform, a league and an entire decade.
The Chargers of the 1960s were known for artistry on the field, by the players and by what the players were wearing. The team, under the guidance of head coach Sid Gillman, was innovative in the passing game. A power-running team would just look out of place wearing the baby blue uniforms.
Alworth was the focal point of the passing attack of a team that played in five of the American Football League’s 10 championship games. Gillman would have had a hard time creating the passing game without a wide receiver like Alworth and the Chargers would not have been the dominating team of the 1960s without Alworth. The rest of the AFL quickly adopted a passing-oriented offense like the Chargers, which defined the difference between the NFL and the AFL.
Before Jerry Rice rewrote the record book, Alworth could have been in the discussion as the best wide receiver to ever play the game.
For all of the records Alworth garners, his legacy as the style of an entire league should not be underestimated.
- Led the league in touchdowns scored in 1964, 1965, 1966
- Nine consecutive games with a TD in 1963
- Led the league in receiving yards in 1965, 1966, 1969
- Chargers’ all-time receiving yards leader with 9,584
- Top two receiving seasons in team history in 1965 (1,602) and 1966 (1,383)
- 232 receiving yards against Kansas City in 1963 was most in a single season in team history for 19 years
- Averaged 23.2 yards per catch, most in team history
- Led the league in receptions in 1966, 1968, 1969
- Team record 96 consecutive games with a reception from 1962-1969
- 81 career receiving touchdowns was franchise record for 42 years
- 14 receiving touchdowns in 1965 is tied for most in team history
- 4 touchdown receptions in one game was most in team history for 13 years
- Nine consecutive games with a touchdown reception is tied for most in team history.
- Caught touchdown pass in six straight games in 1964 and 1967, and in five straight games from 1965-66
- First AFL player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
- All-AFL seven times (1963-69)
Why he is overrated:
The fans voted Fouts as the best player in team history, and an NFL Network panel had Seau as No. 1. Pro-Football Reference has Fouts with the best “Approximate Value.”
Why he is No. 1:
He defined a uniform, decade and entire league. He was the best player on the only championship team in franchise history. He could be considered the best wide receiver ever not named “Jerry Rice.” He was the first AFL player inducted into Hall of Fame and one of three Chargers with a retired jersey.