Chargers by the (Jersey) Numbers: #37

 Finally, one to be proud of.  Two players in particular defined a jersey for the Chargers, one for each side of the ball.

 

Partly due to the fact that so few players have worn #37 throughout Charger history, but also because these two guys are so clearly bald head-and-broad shoulders above the rest.

The Contender

Hank_bauer_medium(An actual action shot!)

Hank Bauer, RB

Bauer certainly never had much of a statistical year (or game, for that matter) for the Chargers, but he is an indelible part of their history and heyday of the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. 

 

Bauer was often considerate enough to let the Chargers work their way down the length the field before he would come in and let them off the hook by punching it in from the one.  But he was good at it.  (17 rushing touchdowns but a yards per carry average barely over 3.)

 

Bauer was the "everyman" on a team of high-flying, elite athletes.  He was a no-nonsense player who looked more like some guy you’d see in Section G of the Murph rather than a guy you’d see getting hugs in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.

 

He played his entire career with the Bolts, and like a nagging cold, refuses to go away.  Not only does he broadcast games on the radio, but he’s a frequent visitor and contributor to Bolts From the Blue!  (Okay, maybe not, but made ya look!)  In fact if "continued contribution to the franchise after retirement" were a genuine consideration, this battle for the Golden Jersey would at least come down to a vote.

 

The Winner

Rodney_harrison_medium

Rodney Harrison, S

But instead, I will anoint Harrison the outright winner.

 

Harrison was the complete package as a defensive back: speed, size, cover skills, and the hitting power of a diesel truck.  Add a little dose of attitude, and it was no wonder he made it to a couple Pro Bowls.

 

Harrison ranks third on the Charger’s all-time list for Interceptions with 26, including 2 returned for touchdown (and another touchdown by returning an onside kick for a score).  Harrison is also 13th on the career list in Sacks – almost 3 times as many as any other Defensive Back in team history.

 

Sure, Harrison was hot-headed and temperamental, and even when his playing days were winding down, was still referred to by many as the league’s dirtiest player.  And that nature certainly drew plenty of costly penalties, irritating all of us.  But his talent was undeniable.  And there was a certain charm and purpose to his obnoxious behavior.  It definitely gave pause to opposing receivers when it came time to cross the terrain against the Chargers, and much of the rest of the defense – Junior Seau included – walked around with an added swagger.

 

Harrison’s demise in San Diego was untimely.  Partly a product of a salary purge, and partly because of an unproductive (and injury plagued) 2002 season, Harrison was released.  Seeing Harrison resurrect his career in New England was frustrating on many levels.  But ultimately, you gotta give it to the guy -- the best #37 in Charger history.

The Rest

Tony Blaylock, CB

Jeff Dale, S

Cid Edwards, RB

Gene Foster, RB

Terry Orr, TE

Charlie Smith, RB

 

 

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