Chargers By The (Jersey) Numbers: #22

Yikes.  These common numbers are killers.  A whopping eleven players have worn the #22 for the San Diego Chargers, but a large number of them haven't left much of a mark on the team.  In fact, only three of them have spent more than three seasons with the team.  However, those three guys were all quite memorable and will battle it out after the jump and in the poll below.  Click the link to see their stories and stats before voting.

Not in the competition:

  • Jacob Hester - The current #22 for the Chargers, Hester has an unique skillset that could make him an effective player for a long time.  Unfortunately for him, being a decent fullback for half of a season does not get you anywhere near a victory in this competition.  Now while we're in the 20s anyways.
  • Rodney Culver - Culver was a big boy, at 5'9" and 224lbs, and had potential as a short-yardage back in the NFL.  He was signed in 1994 by the Chargers after being released by the Indianapolis Colts.  Unfortunately, he wound up the 4th running back on the depth chart behind Means, Bieniemy and Harmon.  Although he was a part of the AFC Championship team, he did not touch the ball in the Super Bowl game.
  • Sammy Davis - A former 1st round draft pick of the Chargers, Davis was a bust in the NFL.  Davis played three seasons in San Diego, playing cornerback in 44 games and starting 30.  In those games he managed just 3 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.  After one season with the 49ers and one with the Buccaneers, Davis retired and has become a successful businessman.  He is now the owner of the ABA's Austin Capitals.
  • Tim Denton - You may not know the name, but he's a fairly recent member of the Bolts.  Signed out of Oklahoma by the Redskins in 1998, Denton had two disappointing seasons with Washington before finishing his career with a subpar season in San Diego.  In 5 game appearances, Denton collected 5 tackles and no other stats.
  • Lloyd Harrison - Harrison was only slightly different from Tim Denton.  He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Redskins in 2000, but was released after one season.  He then spent a season with the Chargers, appearing in 12 games and starting 1, in 2001.  He finished that year with 17 tackles, 1 pass defensed and 1 sack.  The next year he moved on to the Miami Dolphins.
  • Tom Hayes - An SDSU graduate, Hayes had five productive seasons in Atlanta after being drafted by the Falcons in 1971.  He came to San Diego in 1976 and had a productive half-season, intercepting 2 passes and scoring 1 defensive touchdown in 8 games, before his NFL career was ended.  Since he was only 30 years old, I'm assuming that a major injury ended Hayes' career.
  • Jimmy Spencer - Spencer led a long, successful NFL career as both a starting and nickel cornerback.  Before spending his last four seasons with the Broncos, Spencer spent two seasons in San Diego.  In those two seasons he appeared in 29 games, and was a starter in 11 of them.  He intercepted 5 passes in that time and collected 77 tackles.
  • Mike Thomas - Thomas was drafted in the 5th round of the 1975 Draft by the Washington Redskins (lots of ex-Redskins on this list, huh?).  He spent four seasons with them, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1975 and going to the Pro Bowl in 1976.  He signed with San Diego in 1979, but spent his two seasons with the Chargers splitting carries with out talented tailbacks.  After those two seasons he did not appear in another NFL game.  His final stats as a Charger: 209 carries, 837 yards, 4 TDs.

Contenders:

Sn_g_post_288_medium

via espn.go.com

Dickie Post, RB.  Post was drafted in the 4th round of the 1967 AFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.  Dickie came flying out of the gates, winning the AFL Rookie of the Year Award and making the Pro Bowl in his first season.  An elusive runner of comparable size to current Chargers RB Darren Sproles (Post was 5'9", 190lbs), Dickie followed up his first season with two more with similar success.  In his third season he made the Pro Bowl again, but in his fourth season durability became a concern and he was sent packing.  He spent his final season trying to find a spot with the Houston Oilers and Denver Broncos, but failed on both teams and retired.

Billschargers1964smallest_medium

via i109.photobucket.com

Keith Lincoln, RB.  An incredible football player.  Lincoln was drafted by the Chargers in the 1961 AFL Draft and by the Chicago Bears in the 1961 NFL Draft.  Luckily for San Diego fans, this incredibly-versataile player decided to sign with the Bolts.  In his first season, Lincoln was mostly a backup but did return punts.  In 7 returns, he collected 150 yards and 1 touchdown.  The team quickly realized they needed to get the ball in Keith's hands more often.

In 1963 he led the team in rushing, punt return and kickoff return yards. In the 1963 AFL Championship game, Lincoln accounted for 329 yards of total offense as the Chargers defeated the Boston Patriots 51-10.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Lincoln produced unforgettable plays virtually every season. In 1961 he caught a record-setting 91 yard TD pass; in 1962, he ran a kickoff back for a Chargers' record 103 yards. Lincoln had three games in which he gained 100 or more yards on 14 or fewer carries, and in both 1963 and 1964 was the AFL All-Star Game Most Valuable Player.

Lincoln is a member of the San Diego Chargers and Washington State University Athletic Halls of Fame.

Gill_medium

via 2.bp.blogspot.com

Gill Byrd, DB. 

After looking through everything Keith Lincoln did for the Chargers, I thought he was the sure-fire winner.  I mean, the guy is in the Chargers' Hall of Fame!  How can you get better than that?  Then Gill Byrd's stats blew my freaking mind.

10 seasons, all with the Chargers.  42 interceptions, including a stretch of four seasons with at least 6 picks.  1 forced fumble, 4 fumble recoveries and 2 defensive touchdowns (both off INTs).  He only made the Pro Bowl twice, during his last two seasons, but it may have been a case of being on a small market team that didn't win a lot of games.  During his tenure, the Chargers won more than 8 games only once (his final season).  They were below .500 seven out of his ten NFL seasons.  Those two Pro Bowl selections were recognition of his outstanding play throughout his career and were also part of the Chargers success in 1992.

Great player?  Check.  Great guy?  Check.  Under appreciated?  You betcha.  Better than Keith Lincoln?  Maybe.  You know what that means.....BATTLE ROYALE TIME!  Time to vote for your favorite #22 to represent the number for the San Diego Chargers.  Vote early, vote often!

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