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Chargers By The (Jersey) Numbers: #23

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It's been a while for this, hasn't it?  Well, the closer we get to training camp the busier things get around here.  I'll try to remember to get these up even when things get busy, but no promises.

As for the nominees for #23, there's quite a few.  Twelve all together, but it's probably going to come down to two.  All of the fun is after the jump, including another AFL winner.

The Nobodies:

  • Shaun Gayle - Actually, Gayle isn't really a nobody.  He was a very good cornerback, then free safety and finally strong safety with the Chicago Bears.  He was a part of the legendary 1985 Bears defense and made the Pro Bowl in 1991.  He spent 10 years as a fixture in Chicago's defensive backfield before coming over to the San Diego Chargers for the final year of his career.  It was a great year too.  As the strong safety, Gayle caught 2 interceptions and returned 1 for a 99 yard TD.  He also recovered a fumble and returned that for a second defensive touchdown.  Gayle started all 16 games as a Charger and collected 85 tackles for the year.
  • George Hoey - Hoey had such a strange career when you look at the numbers.  He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1969 as a kick returner primarily.  He then played 5 NFL seasons with 6 different teams.  Strange, right?  He spent his fourth season in San Diego, returning punts and kick as well as playing Free Safety.  He finished the season with 1 interception and 2 fumble recoveries.  He returned 4 punts for 38 yards and 3 kicks for 73 yards in that season as well.  The following year he moved on to the Jets and finished the year with the Broncos.  Although he was a good returner, he just could not stay in any one place for too long.
  • DeRon Jenkins - Don't remember the name?  Neither do I.  Apparently DeRon was a starting corner for the 2000 team that went 1-15.  It was his only season in San Diego.  He finished with 1 interception and 55 tackles, which matches up with what he did in just about every season of his six year NFL career.
  • Ray Jones - After being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2nd round of the 1970 Draft, Ray Jones bounced around the league for four seasons mostly as a kick returner.  He spent 1972 with San Diego, returning 3 kicks for 41 yards.  He fumbled twice, but recovered his fumble both times.
  • Mike Montgomery - A 3rd round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in 1971, Montgomery spent his rookie season all over the place.  As a running back, he carried the ball 60 times for 226 yards and a TD.  As a receiver, he caught it 28 times for 361 yards and 2 TDs.  As a QB, he completed 3 of his 6 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.  As a special teamer, he recovered 2 fumbles.  Seems like a heck of a player, huh?  Well, the Dallas Cowboys thought so too.  After his rookie season he was signed away to Dallas, but was underwhelming during his time there.  After two seasons in Dallas he spent his fourth and final season with the Houston Oilers, where he touched the ball only 9 times (all receptions) and scored 1 TD.
  • Mercury Morris - Although I don't like Mercury, I'll keep this civil.  Morris was a 3 time Pro Bowler and appeared in 3 Super Bowls.  He was a very good RB and a great kick returner.  At 5'10" and 190lbs, he could be compared to Darren Sproles.  Towards the end of his seven year stint with the Dolphins, Morris struggled with injuries but remained very effective when he was on the field.  He spent one season in San Diego after being traded to the Chargers.  In that season he carried the ball 50 times for 256 yards and 2 TDs.  He also caught it 8 times for 52 yards.  He was not used to return punts or kicks and retired after the season due to a lingering neck injury.
  • Irvin Phillips - The Chargers' third round pick of the 1981 Draft, Phillips had a most unspectacular career.  In his rookie season he suited up for 15 games, but the only touched the ball once.  In returning a punt, Phillips fumbled the ball but recovered it himself.  He spent 1982 with the Raiders before disappearing from the NFL.
  • Anthony Shelton - Shelton was drafted in the 11th round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the 49ers but was cut in camp.  He signed on with the Chargers but didn't collect any stats in his first year.  In his second year he started four games at cornerback and collected 1 sack to go with 1 interception.  That was his last NFL season.
  • Danny Walters - I need someone who has a good memory and is old enough to see Danny Walters to explain this to me.  What an odd career this guy had.  He was drafted in the 4th round of the 1983 draft by the Chargers and exploded out of the gates in his rookie season.  As the starting cornerback Walters intercepted 7 passes, 5th best that season.  In the next season he started only half of the Chargers games but didn't intercept a single pass.  Was the rookie season a fluke?  In his 3rd season he once again started all of the Chargers regular season games and came away with 5 interceptions and recovered a fumble.  Okay, so the second season was the fluke, right?  Who knows.  Walters started only 7 games for the Chargers over the next two seasons and didn't make another pick before disappearing from the NFL.  Can anyone explain this roller-coaster of a player to me?
  • Gerome Williams - Gerome spent a season and a half in the defensive backfield of the San Diego Chargers.  In that time he collected 12 tackles and recovered 1 fumble.  That's literally all I could find about Gerome Williams.

The Runner-Up

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via cache.boston.com

Quentin Jammer, CB.  The weird thing about Jammer is that you want to talk on end about what a great corner and character guy he's been for the team, but what is there to say?  Teams throw away from him because they're afraid of him.  Coming out of college he was a physical corner, but had to adapt his style to cut down on the pass interference penalties.  He plays strong and smart.  He's not the fastest corner on the team, but he's the best.  A top 5 corner in the league without a doubt.

In 98 games started as a Charger, he's intercepted 13 passes and defended another 99 passes.  He's also one of the best tackling corners in the league, which could eventually lead to a transition to the safety position.  In six seasons as a started he's forced 4 fumbles and recovered 5.  He's also collected 499 tackles (he had 86 in 2008), which is incredible for a cornerback.  Besides a championship, the two things that have eluded Jammer thusfar are a Pro Bowl appearance and a defensive touchdown.  He turned 30 years old just 11 days ago, and has never had a problem with injuries, so those things should not be far off for him.

The Winner

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via www.remembertheafl.com

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via i284.photobucket.com

Paul Lowe, HB.  Not just a great player, but a great story.  To learn how Lowe found his way onto the Chargers, we go to Lowe's Wikipedia entry:

After graduating from Oregon State University, Lowe played for the San Francisco 49ers during the 1959 pre-season. However, Lowe was unable to make the team and was released before the regular season began. He returned to Los Angeles, California to get a job to support his wife. He took a job in the mailroom for the Carte Blanche Credit Card Corporation, owned by the Hilton family.

In 1960, Barron Hilton, son of famed hotel magnet Conrad Hilton, was the owner of the Los Angeles Chargers, a start-up team in the newly formed American Football League. The Chargers General Manager, Frank Leahy, asked Lowe to come out to the Chargers training camp on the basis of his talents at Oregon State a few years back. Lowe joined the Chargers as a free agent.

That seems a little lucky.  It seems unbelievably lucky once you realize what Lowe did once he joined the team.  In 8 seasons with the Chargers, Lowe ran the ball 1,015 times for 4,972 yards (4.9 YPC) and 38 TDs.  He also caught it 111 times for 1,045 yards and 7 TDs.  Lowe went to two Pro Bowls as a Charger and won the UPI's 1965 MVP Award as well.  Some notes on his career with the Chargers:

  • He returned his first touch of the football in the AFL for a 105-yard touchdown in the Chargers' first-ever exhibition game.
  • In 1961, Lowe had the Chargers' longest run from scrimmage with an 87-yard run, a record that still stands today.
  • Lowe set a pro football record with six games in which he gained 100 or more yards on 14 or fewer carries.
  • He has the AFL's all-time highest rushing average, at 4.9 yd/carry, and his career rushing total of 4,972 yards is second best all-time in the AFL.
  • He is one of only twenty players who were in the AFL for its entire ten-year existence.

Plain and simple, Paul Lowe was a great find for the Chargers organization and is one of the best running backs in the team's history.  He has been named to the All-Time All-AFL Team and has been inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.  Lowe remains in San Diego to this day and supports his team as a season ticket holder.  Paul Lowe is your representative for the #23 jersey for the San Diego Chargers.