Currently the San Diego Chargers have only two jersey numbers retired (19 - Alworth, 14 - Fouts). Which numbers, and how many, are retired is up to the team's brass and therefore is met with different philosophies in each city. Some teams have zero retired numbers (Raiders) and some have as many as thirteen retired numbers (Bears). While I generally agree that there should be only a few numbers retired, I think the Chargers have left a few players out up to this point.
Over the next few weeks I'll be visiting some of these numbers and telling you why the Chargers should retire them, besides the simple fact that fans will never stop thinking of one player when they see that number/jersey combination. We start the series with a number that I've been pushing for a while to have retired, #80.
Lance Alworth is one of the best receivers in the history of football, and was a key component for the NFL-AFL merger, and he deserves to have his number retired as the greatest receiver in the history of the San Diego Chargers. However, Kellen Winslow is an even more important figure for San Diego fans. Here's why: In addition to being one of the greatest TEs of all time, he changed the way Tight Ends were looked at and was one if (if not the) toughest players on his team. As that Sporting News yearbook above states, after a while Kellen went from "football player" to "hero".
I don't know that there's any doubt that Winslow's game against the Miami Dolphins in the 1981 playoffs is the greatest game any Chargers player has ever had. In eight seasons as the Chargers starting TE, he was selected to the Pro Bowl five times. Those three seasons, and his shortened career, had a lot to do with his body taking the pounding of blocking (which Bambi never had to). If he played in today's NFL, he probably would've been healthier and had a longer career.
#80 was my first choice for one very clear reason. When I think "the best Chargers players of all time", three guys (not two) pop into my mind. Fouts, Alworth and Winslow. Every time I see Malcom Floyd in the #80 jersey, and when I used to watch Cutis Conway wearing it, I think to myself "Why are they allowed to wear Kellen's number?"
Consider the comments below to be a petition. If you agree with me, say as much in the comments below. I know that certain members of the Chargers front office read BFTB, so if we can get enough support for this here the team will hear us. If you disagree for any reason, feel free to state that too.