San Diego Chargers' All-Time Top 50 Players

Rick Devereux@rick_devereuxContributor IIMay 25, 2013

San Diego Chargers' All-Time Top 50 Players

0 of 51

    This list of the greatest players in San Diego Chargers history will obviously create discussions.

    Few things are as arbitrary as a top-10 list of anything. Unless there are very specific and quantifiable criteria for the list, it comes down to pure opinion. A list ranking the best athletes for a sport, especially ranking a list of top athletes in a team sport such as football, is even more subjective.

    Is an offensive guard any less valuable to a team than a defensive back?

    Is the quarterback considered great because he has excellent receivers, or are the receivers over-hyped because there is a Hall of Fame quarterback tossing them the ball?

    Is it better to be considered one of the best tight ends who ever played, or one of the top 15 quarterbacks?

    It only takes a quick look to the 2012 season to acknowledge the value of a left tackle, and the 2010 San Diego season could have ended differently if the long snapper had not been injured.

    While those debates will continue to rage, there is no debating lists are fun diversions during the offseason, while actual football games are still months away.

    In an attempt to put some sort of consistency in the list, certain factors will be given more weight than others. Team records, NFL records, Pro Bowl appearances, All-Pro honors, retired jerseys, Hall of Fame induction and appearances on other lists will all be considered.

    In the end, however, it is all a matter of opinion. That is why there will be a “why he is overrated” and “why he is underrated” section for each player.  There are legitimate arguments that each player should be higher (underrated) or lower (overrated) on the list.

Honorable Mentions

1 of 51

    A list of the greatest players in franchise history is flawed because it leaves off the coaches who have the most sway to wins and losses.

    Sid Gillman was a mastermind and innovator of football, hiring the first strength and conditioning coach during a time when bulking up was frowned upon. He is also the only coach in San Diego sports history to guide a team to a championship title.

    Don Coryell was also an innovator of football and introduced “Air Coryell” to San Diego.

    Bobby Ross is the only coach to take a Chargers team to the Super Bowl.

    Other notable players who missed the cut are running backs Dickie Post and Natrone Means, receiver Tony Martin, offensive tackle Marcus McNeil and defensive tackles Ernie Ladd and John Parrella.

No. 50: John Carney, K, 1990-2000

2 of 51

    John “Chili Con” Carney led the NFL in scoring in 1994, en route to Pro Bowl and All-Pro status.

    He ranked as the fifth-best field goal kicker of all time, according to Bleacher Report writer Anthony Emerson.

    Why he is overrated:

    He is a kicker and kickers should not be considered football players.

    Why he is underrated:

    He scored more points than anyone in franchise history.

No. 49: Marion Butts, RB, 1989-93

3 of 51

    Marion Butts played five seasons with the Chargers, but he finished second on the team’s career rushing leader list.

    Why he is overrated:

    He only played five seasons and broke 1,000 yards rushing once. He never had a double-digit touchdown season.

    Why he is underrated:

    He retired with more rushing yards in franchise history than everyone except Paul Lowe. He was a workhorse back and finished his career with the most rushing attempts in team history.

No. 48 Louie Kelcher, DT, 1975-83

4 of 51

    A nine-year veteran on the defensive line, Louie Kelcher made the Pro Bowl three times and was voted All-Pro in 1978.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was a member of a defense that is believed to have cost the Air Coryell teams a Super Bowl appearance.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was one of the first 300-pound linemen in the NFL, and the best defensive player on a below-average defensive squad. He was the team MVP in 1977. 

No. 47: Ed White, OG, 1978-85

5 of 51

    Ed White played the first nine years of his career in Minnesota, then played the final eight with the Chargers. He played in an impressive 241 career games with the Vikings and San Diego. He played in all four Vikings Super Bowls. He was selected to the 1979 Pro Bowl team as a guard with the Chargers.

    Why he is overrated:

    His best playing days may have been with the Vikings.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was selected to the Chargers’ 50 Anniversary Team. He was the starting guard during the Air Coryell era.

No. 46: Kenny Graham, DB, 1960-65

6 of 51

    Kenny Graham was a hard-hitting safety, drawing comparisons to an early-day Rodney Harrison.

    Why he is overrated:

    He may not have even been the best defensive back for the Chargers in the 1960s.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was a premier safety in the AFL, earning All-AFL honors four times.

No. 45: Darren Sproles, RB, 2005-10

7 of 51

    Darren Sproles earned respect from fans and foes alike for his massive playmaking ability despite his miniature size. He was a threat as a third-down back and as a return specialist.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was never the main running back in the offense. He has never made the Pro Bowl or received any end-of-the-season honors.

    Why he is underrated:

    He has more combined punt and kickoff return yards than anyone else in franchise history. His punt and kickoff returns, as well as his catch-and-runs on screen plays could change games. The Charges have struggled on third down and in the return game since he left the team.

No. 44: Billy Shields, OT, 1975-83

8 of 51

    Billy Shields was the main left tackle assigned to protect Dan Fouts’ blindside.

    Why he is overrated:

    Shields was never named to the Pro Bowl. Dan Fouts was sacked more times than any other Chargers quarterback.

    Why he is underrated:

    Dan Fouts had enough time in the pocket to lead the NFL in passing yards for four straight years.

No. 43: Speedy Duncan, DB, 1964-70

9 of 51

    A multiple threat as a corner and return specialist, Leslie “Speedy” Duncan had the most combined punt and kickoff return yards in team history when he left.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was a better return man than a defensive back.

    Why he is underrated:

    A three-time All-AFL selection, he was selected to the Chargers All-Time team as a return specialist.

No. 42: Chuck Allen, LB, 1961-68

10 of 51

    Allen was the middle linebacker for the AFL Championship Chargers, capable of stuffing the run and covering the pass.

    Why he is overrated:

    The Chargers of the 1960s won because of its offense, not defense.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was an All-AFL selection twice and finished with 20 interceptions, second most for a linebacker in Chargers history and 11th-most overall regardless of position.

No. 41: Nick Hardwick, C, 2004-Present

11 of 51

    Nick Hardwick has been a solid presence in the middle of the offensive line for nine years.

    Why he is overrated:

    Only voted to one Pro Bowl.

    Why he is underrated:

    Voted to the Chargers All-Time team and helped make the blocking assignment calls for LaDainian Tomlinson’s record-breaking 2006 season.

No. 40: Lorenzo Neal, FB, 2003-2007

12 of 51

    One of the best blocking fullbacks to ever play the game, Lorenzo Neal was an extra lineman in the backfield. When he opened holes for running backs, the running back usually found daylight. He led the way for 11 consecutive 1,000-yard rushers, including all five years he was with the Chargers.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was never a threat to carry or catch the ball.

    Why he is underrated:

    LaDainian Tomlinson’s best statistical seasons were when Lo Neal was in the backfield.

No. 39: Ronnie Harmon, RB, 1990-95

13 of 51

    A third-down receiving threat out of the backfield, Ronnie Harmon was San Diego’s leading receiver in the Super Bowl XXIX loss to the 49ers.

    Why he is overrated:

    Harmon was never a three-down running back, and was not a major threat in the run game.

    Why he is underrated:

    It sure did seem like every time the Chargers needed to convert a third down, Harmon was there to deliver.

No. 38: Eric Weddle, DB, 2007-Present

14 of 51

    Eric Weddle is quickly moving up the defensive record books for the Chargers and is currently viewed as one of the best safeties in the entire NFL.

    Why he is overrated:

    He has played in 92 games and only has 16 interceptions, a smaller interception-per-game ratio than players not on the list (Donnie Edwards, 17 INTs in 80 games; Bob Woodward, 21 in 43 games).

    Why he is underrated:

    He is good against the run and great against the pass, allowing the lowest completion rate of any safety in the NFL in 2012.

No. 37: Keith Lincoln, FB, 1961-66, 1968

15 of 51

    One of the most versatile players in San Diego history, Keith Lincoln was a major reason the Chargers won the 1963 AFL Championship.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was only a complementary player and never the main threat, either as a runner or receiver.

    Why he is underrated:

    Not too many players in NFL history can claim to have rushed, received, thrown, returned kickoffs and returned punts for touchdowns, as well as kick field goals. In the AFL title game against the Boston Patriots, Lincoln had an NFL-record 329 yards from scrimmage.

No. 36: Gary Johnson, DT, 1975-84

16 of 51

    Gary “Big Hands” Johnson was the lynchpin for a defensive line nicknamed The Bruise Brothers.

    Why he is overrated:

    An interior defensive lineman is rarely credited with determining the outcome of a game like a quarterback or running back can.

    Why he is underrated:

    He finished his career with 67 sacks, which was most in team history at that time. His 17.5 sacks in 1980 still stand as the high-water mark for single-season sacks.

No. 35: Woodrow Lowe, LB, 1976-86

17 of 51

    Woodrow Lowe was a complete linebacker, excelling against the run and the pass.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was never selected to the Pro Bowl nor received any postseason honors.

    Why he is underrated:

    He had 21 interceptions and returned four for touchdowns, which is third most in team  history.

No. 34: Stan Humphries, QB, 1992-97

18 of 51

    The only quarterback to lead the Chargers to a Super Bowl, Stan Humphries had his career cut short due to concussions.

    Why he is overrated:

    Humphries was an average quarterback at best, completing 56.8 percent of his passes, with 85 touchdowns and 73 interceptions. He never started all of the games in a season.

    Why he is underrated:

    Leaders do not always have the best statistics, and Humphries led the 1992 Chargers out of an 0-4 hole to an 11-5 finish and playoff berth. He was San Diego’s only starting Super Bowl quarterback.

No. 33: Billy Ray Smith, LB, 1983-92

19 of 51

    Some may only know Billy Ray Smith as a sports talk show host in the San Diego area, but he was the team’s best linebacker during the 1980s.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was never named to a Pro Bowl and never received postseason honors.

    Why he underrated:

    He was the team’s MVP of the 1987 season, and is a member of the All-Time team.

No. 32: Hank Bauer, RB, 1977-82

20 of 51

    Hank “The Howitzer” Bauer was a short-yardage running back, but was most useful as a special teams player.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was a situational player.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was San Diego’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 1980 and 1981 and was the NFL Special Teams Player of the Year in 1980. He was a team captain and voted the team’s Most Inspirational Player in 1978. He registered 51 special teams tackles in 1981, which is an NFL record.

No. 31: Dick Harris, DB, 1960-65

21 of 51

    Dick Harris held the record for most interceptions by a Charger for 21 years until Gill Byrd broke it in 1990.

    Why he is overrated:

    Harris benefited from having a great pass rush along the defensive line.

    Why he is underrated:

    He had the most interceptions in team history for more than two decades.

No. 30: Kris Deilman, OG, 2003-11

22 of 51

    A tough guard who set a nasty tone for the Chargers offensive line in front of LaDainian Tomlinson, Kris Dielman was called the enforcer in front of LT’s record-setting career.

    Why he is overrated:

    A guard should not be ranked ahead of someone who scores touchdowns.

    Why he is underrated:

    He went to four straight Pro Bowls and was All-Pro twice. 

No. 29: Rodney Harrison, DB, 1994-2002

23 of 51

    Some players have called Rodney Harrison dirty, but others have called him a hard-hitting enforcer in the defensive backfield.

    Why he is overrated:

    Harrison had too many penalties that would negate defensive stops and allow a team to continue a drive.

    Why he is underrated:

    With Junior Seau at linebacker and Harrison at safety, the San Diego defense was intimidating. He had 26 interceptions and 21.5 sacks while with the Chargers.

No. 28: Shaun Phillips, LB, 2004-12

24 of 51

    An edge-setting defender, Shaun Phillips registered double-digit sacks in two of his nine years with San Diego and more than seven sacks in seven different seasons.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was average against the run and was not a major threat dropping into coverage.

    Why he is underrated:

    He finished with 69.5 sacks, the second most in team history.

No. 27: Quentin Jammer, DB, 2002-12

25 of 51

    A starter for more than a decade at cornerback, Jammer was not afraid to tackle or hit.

    Why he is overrated:

    Jammer was never voted to a Pro Bowl, and never received any postseason recognition.

    Why he is underrated:

    He has more passes defended than anyone in team history.

No. 26: Earl Faison, DE, 1961-66

26 of 51

    Earl Faison was a powerful presence on the defensive line the minute he took the field, earning AFL Rookie of the Year honors in 1961.

    Why he is overrated:

    He only played in 64 games for San Diego.

    Why he is underrated:

    Faison was voted to five straight Pro Bowls, and was All-Pro in four of his first five years.

No. 25: Doug Wilkerson, OG, 1971-84

27 of 51

    A long-term fixture along the offensive line, Wilkerson retired with the second most games played in Chargers history.

    Why he is overrated:

    Despite playing 14 seasons, Wilkerson only made the Pro Bowl three times. Plus, he is a guard and does not score touchdowns.

    Why he is underrated:

    Wilkerson made the Pro Bowl three straight years (1980-82) and was also named All-Pro in 1982.

No. 24: Paul Lowe, RB, 1960-68

28 of 51

    Paul Lowe is one of only 20 players to have played all 10 years in the AFL during its existence.

    Why he is overrated:

    He may not have even been the best player in his own backfield.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was the team’s all-time rushing leader from 1968 to 2004. 

No. 23: Chuck Muncie, RB, 1980-84

29 of 51

    Muncie was a hard-nosed runner on a pass-oriented team.

    Why he is overrated:

    He surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark once.

    Why he is underrated:

    He retired with the most rushing touchdowns in team history.

No. 22: Charlie McNeil, DB, 1960-64

30 of 51

    McNeil was a safety and his 1961 season is one of the best for a defensive back in team history.

    Why he is overrated:

    He really only had one season worth remembering. If you take away that 1961 season, McNeil never had more than four interceptions in a year.

    Why he is underrated:

    His 349 interception return yards was an NFL single-season record for 43 years. His 177 interception yards in one game is still the most in NFL history. He intercepted a pass in five straight games in 1961, which is still a Chargers record.

No. 21: David Binn, LS, 1994-2010

31 of 51

    David Binn has played more seasons and games as a Charger than anyone else. Ever.

    Why he is overrated:

    He is a long snapper.

    Why he is underrated:

    In 2010, the Chargers were No.1 on offense and No. 1 on defense but failed to make the playoffs because they had four punts blocked when Binn was not the long snapper.

No. 20: Fred Dean, DE, 1975-1981

32 of 51

    Fred Dean was a force coming off the edge and attacking opposing quarterbacks. Defensive sack stats were not officially kept until 1982, but Dean had seven as a rookie in 1975. He is the only defensive player in Chargers history to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was better with San Francisco than with San Diego.

    Why he is underrated:

    He had 26 sacks in three seasons, including 15.6 sacks in 1978.

No. 19: Don Macek, C, 1976-89

33 of 51

    The best center in team history, Don Macek has played in 162 games during 14 remarkable seasons.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was never voted to the Pro Bowl, and never received any postseason honors.

    Why he is underrated:

    Centers are always underrated, but one with the longevity and durability of Macek should not be.

No. 18: Darren Bennett, P, 1993-2004

34 of 51

    Darren Bennett was one of the first Australian football players to play in the NFL. He also showed that punters could tackle.

    Why he is overrated:

    There is not much difference between Bennett and current Chargers punter Mike Scifres.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was named to the All-1990s Team despite only playing half of the decade. He showed San Diego fans the value of a punter. 

No. 17: Russ Washington, OT, 1968-1982

35 of 51

    He started every game the Chargers played during the 1970s, earning Pro Bowl status five times.

    Why he is overrated:

    He only played on two teams with winning records during his consecutive start streak.

    Why he is underrated:

    He started 148 straight games (1970-1980), played in 178 consecutive games (1968-1980) and played in a total of 200 games along the Chargers offensive line.

No. 16: Gill Byrd, DB, 1983-1993

36 of 51

    Gill Byrd is the most prolific cornerback in the history of the San Diego Chargers. No one has more interceptions or interception yards than Byrd.

    Why he is overrated:

    For as many interceptions as he has, he has zero touchdowns.

    Why he is underrated:

    He has 42 career interceptions for 546 yards, an average of 13 yards per interception. 

No. 15: Gary Garrison, WR, 1966-76

37 of 51

    Gary “The Ghost” Garrison was the best wide receiver for the Bolts after Lance Alworth left and before Air Coryell took over.

    Why he is overrated:

    Much like Russ Washington, he played on losing teams more often than winning teams.

    Why he is underrated:

    Only Lance Alworth, Charlie Joiner and Antonio Gates have more receiving yards than Garrison, and only Alworth and Gates have more receiving touchdowns.

No. 14: Jamal Williams, DL, 1998-2009

38 of 51

    The best nose tackle in Chargers history, Jamal Williams plugged up the middle on defense, allowing linebackers to make the tackles.

    Why he is overrated:

    He only had 13 sacks in 12 seasons with San Diego and averaged fewer than 33 total tackles per game.

    Why he is underrated:

    True nose guards are hard to find and Peter King of Sports Illustrated called Williams the “textbook block of granite nose man.” He ranked Williams No. 17 among all NFL players heading into the 2007 season. 

No. 13: Philip Rivers, QB, 2004-Present

39 of 51

    Rivers is currently the third-best quarterback in team history, but by the end of the 2013 season he could overtake John Hadl on most franchise passing categories. Even if he does blow past Hadl in the record book, however, it may be awhile before he passes him in terms of value to the franchise.

    Why he is overrated:

    All quarterback numbers are now inflated due to strict rules against the defense. Rivers throwing for more than 4,000 yards in a season is less special than when Dan Fouts did it in 1979, 1980 and 1981. And despite defensive backs being able to chuck receivers downfield, Fouts still had the top two passing yard seasons in team history.

    Why he is underrated:

    Fouts threw for more than 4,000 yards in three straight years. Rivers threw for more than 4,000 in four straight years. Fouts and Hadl had Hall of Fame receivers surrounding them in the huddle. Rivers had Tomlinson and still has Antonio Gates, but there is no questioning which of the three quarterbacks did more with fewer weapons. 

    In his first season as the starter, Rivers led the team to a 14-2 record. The next year, the Chargers went to the AFC Championship game. San Diego won the AFC West title in the first four years he was the No. 1 quarterback.

No. 12: John Hadl, QB, 1962-72

40 of 51

    John Hadl was one of the premier passers in the AFL. The combination of Hadl to Alworth resulted in 56 touchdowns, the most of any duo in the fledgling league, and sixth all time in all of professional football.

    Why he is overrated:

    What kind of numbers would Rivers put up if he had Lance Alworth catching the ball? He has more interceptions and less competition than Rivers.

    Why he is underrated:

    Was Hadl good because of Alworth? Or was Alworth good because of Hadl? Hadl led the AFL in passing yards three times

No. 11: Wes Chandler, WR, 1981-87

41 of 51

    In his seven seasons with the Chargers, no one had more receiving yards or touchdown grabs than Wes Chandler.

    Why he is overrated:

    Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow helped open defenses for Chandler to get open.

    Why he is underrated:

    His 1982 season was nothing short of amazing. In a strike-shortened year, Chandler had 49 receptions for 1,032 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games. No player in NFL history had ever had more than 1,000 yards receiving in eight games.

No. 10: Leslie O’Neal, DL, 1986-95

42 of 51

    If not for a certain linebacker, Leslie O’Neal could be considered the best defensive player in Chargers history.

    He is far and away the team’s career sack leader, and he was the glue that connected the Dan Fouts era to the Junior Seau era.

    O’Neal was a premier pass rusher during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He had 12 or more sacks in seven of his nine years with the Chargers, earning Pro-Bowl nods in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995.

    O’Neal was the 1986 Defensive Rookie of the Year after collecting 12.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

    Why he is overrated:

    O’Neal is not even a member of the Chargers Ring of Honor.

    Why he is underrated:

    He is the team’s all-time sack leader and played in the same number of Pro Bowls as Dan Fouts (6). Only Junior Seau has played in more Pro Bowls as a Charger.

No. 9: Walt Sweeney, OG, 1963-73

43 of 51

    Walt Sweeney helped form one of the best offensive lines in pro football history. His rookie season, the Chargers went on the win the AFL championship game. The year before, San Diego won four games.

    Why he is overrated:

    An interior lineman in the top 10? And not even a Hall of Fame interior lineman?

    Why he is underrated:

    He played 11 years for the Bolts and was selected to the Pro Bowl game nine straight seasons.

No. 8: Charlie Joiner, WR, 1976-86

44 of 51

    The Hall of Fame wide receiver helped define the Air Coryell days of the early 1980s. A smooth route runner, Joiner drew double coverage from defenses, which led to other receivers gaining better matchups. Still, Joiner ended his career as the team’s all-time reception leader.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was not even the main offensive weapon for his team.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was a Hall of Fame wide receiver who made the Air Coryell offense tick. 

No. 7: Antonio Gates, TE, 2003-Present

45 of 51

    Antonio Gates has revolutionized the game in an unexpected way. Teams are now scouting college basketball players as potential tight ends.

    Undrafted as a power forward for the Kent State basketball team, Gates is rewriting the team history book. He has more touchdowns catches than any other Charger in history.

    It is hard to say he is the best tight end in NFL history when he is not even the best tight end in franchise history. But his career is still churning along, and Gates could soon jump higher on this list.

    Why he is overrated:

    It's debatable if he is even the best tight end in franchise history.

    Why he is underrated:

    No one in franchise history has more receptions or touchdown receptions. 

No. 6: Ron Mix, OT, 1960-69

46 of 51

    There are not a whole lot of statistics for offensive linemen, but Ron Mix should be discussed as one of the best to ever play the game.

    In 10 years, Mix was only penalized for holding two times. That's something lineman have trouble accomplishing over 10 games. Some don’t even last 10 plays without a holding call.

    Why he is overrated:

    He is an offensive lineman and therefore never had a game-winning touchdown or highlight-reel interception. He is not considered the best tackle to ever play the game, whereas other players could be considered the best at their position.

    Why he is underrated:

    He had only two holding calls in 10 years, was an All-AFL tackle eight years and an All-AFL guard once. He played in five AFL title games and was unanimously picked for the all-time AFL Team.

No. 5: Dan Fouts, QB, 1973-87

47 of 51

    Dan Fouts should be considered the best leader to ever take the field for the Chargers. He is often mentioned as one of the best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl, but that is more an indictment against the defenses he played with as opposed to his skills.

    He may not be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but he should be considered one of the top 15 signal-callers to ever take the field.

    Why he is overrated:

    Never mind winning a Super Bowl; he never made it to a Super Bowl.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was possibly the toughest quarterback to ever play football, truly a Hall of Fame career. He led the NFL in passing yards four straight years. He led the Chargers to back-to-back AFC Championship games despite not having a great running game or defense to support the team.

    He was voted the No. 3 quarterback of the 1980s by an NFL Films panel. At the time of his retirement, his six 3,000-yard passing seasons were the most in NFL history. He was one of three players whose jersey was retired by the Chargers.

No. 4: Kellen Winslow, TE, 1979-87

48 of 51

    His career was cut short due to knee and back problems, but Kellen Winslow redefined the tight end position.

    Tight ends were normally lined up on the line of scrimmage right next to an offensive tackle, but the size and speed Winslow possessed allowed coach Don Coryell to “flex” him out in the slot or even on the outside like a wide receiver. That may be a common sight in the NFL now, but in the 1980s it was revolutionary.

    While never a great blocker, he held his own against defenders in the run game.

    The presence of a Hall of Fame quarterback and wide receiver helped open up one-on-one opportunities for Winslow, and he made the most of them.

    To say he was the best tight end who ever played could easily be defended.

    Why he is overrated:

    He was never an elite blocker. He may not even be the best tight end in franchise history.

    Why he is underrated:

    Possibly the best tight end of all time and revolutionized the position. He led the NFL in receptions in 1980 and 1981 as a tight end—a Hall of Fame career.

No. 3: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, 2001-09

49 of 51

    It would have been very easy to put LaDainian Tomlinson higher on this list.

    The running back’s name is scattered throughout the San Diego Chargers' and NFL record books.

    It would be a stretch to argue LT as the greatest running back of all time, but not a huge stretch. He was certainly one of the more versatile.

    In 2003, he rushed for 1,645 yards while also hauling in 100 receptions. In one of the biggest travesties in NFL history, Tomlinson did not make the Pro Bowl that year.

    In 2006, he had 28 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns. He also threw two touchdown passes en route to the NFL MVP award that season.

    Every time he touched the ball, he was a threat to jump-cut his way past a defender and dash into the end zone.

    The records he holds will be hard to break.

    Why he is overrated:

    Tomlinson disappeared in playoff games, averaging 46.7 rushing yards in seven appearances with San Diego. The Chargers were one-and-done in four of the five playoff tournaments Tomlinson played in.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was the single-season NFL rushing touchdown leader, the single-season total touchdown leader and single-season NFL point leader. LT has the most touchdowns in team history, the most rushing yards in team history and is fifth all time on the NFL career rushing yards list.

    He is second all time on the NFL career rushing touchdown list, third all time on the NFL career touchdown list, fifth all time on the NFL career yards-from-scrimmage list, and the only Charger player to ever have 100 receptions in a single season.

    He is only Charger to be win MVP, and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns three times, and in rushing twice.

No. 2: Junior Seau. LB, 1990-2002

50 of 51

    No player is more associated with the San Diego Chargers than Junior Seau, and for good reason. The future Hall of Fame linebacker played 13 seasons for the Bolts, being voted to the Pro Bowl his final 12 years in San Diego.

    He was first-team All-Pro for six years. Only long snapper David Binn has worn the lightning bolt helmet in more games than Seau. He was the 1994 Walter Peyton Man of the Year. He had more than 100 tackles in seven seasons while with the Chargers. He was the unquestioned leader of the only Charger team to play in the Super Bowl.

    No one has more tackles or fumble recoveries in San Diego history.

    He should be considered one of the top 10 linebackers to ever play the game and easily the best defender in San Diego team history.


    • All-time team tackle leader with 1,288
    • All-time team fumble recovery leader with 16
    • Tied for second in team history with 200 career games
    • Intercepted 15 passes, tied for 16-most in team history
    • Pro-Bowl selection from 1991-2002
    • First-team All-Pro 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000

    Why he is overrated:

    Seau rarely played his assignment, freelancing and leaving teammates to clean up his mistakes. Teams he played on ended with a winning record three times in his 13 years with the Chargers.

    Why he is underrated:

    He was the emotional leader of the team for a more than a decade. He was voted to the Pro Bowl 12 straight years, earning Team of the ‘90s honors. Despite the team getting blown out in Super Bowl XXIX, Seau tied for most tackles in the game with nine and also registered a sack and one of three Chargers with a retired jersey.

No. 1: Lance Alworth, WR, 1962-1970

51 of 51

    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.