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Chargers by the (Jersey) Numbers: #35

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Ahh, 35… Like an ice cold one while kicking back on the sands of Waikiki.  No worries.  Easy squeezey.  No polls, no twisting of lame statistics to make it seem like one marginal year was some great accomplishment.  Whether going by longevity, team success or even statistical success, there’s only one possible winner for #35.

In spite of these fine choices...

Tony Baker, RB

Lawrence Barnes, RB

Hezekiah Braxton, RB

Chuck Detwiler, S

Jermaine Fazande, RB

Carwell Gardner, RB

Bob Garner, CB

Leon Johnson, RB

Keith Kyle, FS

Kwamie Lassiter, FS

Keith Lyle, FS

Martin Sartin, RB

Bob Thomas, RB

Herb Travenio, K

There can only be one Winner...

Marion_butts_medium  (Cool 'do, huh?)

Marion Butts, RB

Butts became a pretty dominant force for the Chargers fairly quickly after being drafted in 1989.  Even though he only started 5 games that season, he still rushed for almost 700 yards, and in only one of his five seasons did his per carry average drop below 4.  And even though the Bolts were a couple seasons (and a new head coach) away from even sniffing the playoffs, he put together a pretty terrific year in 1990, rushing for over 1200 yards and leading the league in per game average (a modest 87.5 yards).  On the strength of that, he made it to the Pro Bowl that year

 

More importantly, Butts stepped up his game when it mattered most: the playoffs.  Butts rushed for 119 yards in his first playoff game, scoring the only touchdown the Chargers would need in a 17-0 white-washing of the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

Butts also ushered in a new era for the Charger running game: the big, bruising back to carry the load – even if they weren’t a featured back in college.  If not for Butts’ success, there probably would have been no Rod Bernstine, probably no Natrone Means, and definitely no Jermaine Fazande.  Hmm… maybe I need to rethink this.  No.  Even the stench of the Fazande era cannot erase the legacy of Marion Butts.