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Earl Faison, Former Chargers DE, Dies at Age 77

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2016

Earl Faison on Dec. 21, 1961, San Diego Chargers’ end, won the designation as the American Football League's Rookie of the Year. (AP Photo)
Associated Press

The San Diego Chargers announced on Monday that former defensive end Earl Faison died at the age of 77.

Chargers chairman Dean Spanos released the following statement:   

On behalf of the Spanos family and the entire Chargers organization, we’d like to express our deepest sympathies to the Faison family. I had the privilege of getting to know Earl through the years.  He was a consummate gentleman with a booming voice and laugh.  His passion for the Chargers and the game of football was unwavering.  As a member of the original Fearsome Foursome, Earl was an integral part of the Chargers’ dominance in the team’s early years, helping lead the team to two American Football League championship games and winning the AFL title in 1963.  His post-football career as an educator is just as accomplished.  He will be missed.

Faison was the seventh overall pick in the 1961 American Football League draft, winning Rookie of the Year and the Chargers' Most Valuable Player award that season. He was a five-time AFL All-Star Game selection, a four-time first-team All-AFL selection and was named to the Chargers Hall of Fame and 50th Anniversary Team.

He was aptly nicknamed "Tree" for his towering presence and tendency to swat down passes.

“He must have tipped or batted down 25 passes during the season,” Chargers offensive coach Joe Madro said in 1961 after Faison was named the Rookie of the Year, per Chargers.com. "I’ve never seen a rusher get his hands on the ball as often. If he didn’t touch it, he made the passer lob it over his rush and ruined a lot of patterns that way.”

He finished his career with six interceptions and two defensive touchdowns, which are impressive marks for a defensive end. He also spent part of one season (1966) with the Miami Dolphins.

His coach, Sid Gillman, perhaps best summed up his impact on the game when Faison was inducted into the team's ring of honor in 1986, per Chargers.com: “There haven’t been many better." 

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