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Chargers by the (Jersey) Numbers: #51

 

Don Brown, T

Terry Crews, LB

Joe Cummings, LB

Dick Degan, LB

Gerald Dixon, LB

Tim Dobbins, LB

Cedric Figaro, ILB

Wayne Frazier, C

Pete Lazetich, LB

Ben Leber, LB

Bill Lenkaitis, G

 

The Chargers’ on-going search for quality linebackers is evidenced by #51 (actually, by most of the 50s).  The truth is that very few of them stick for more than 3-4 years.  The 51 winner is the only one to play for more than 4.

Another thing these 50s guys have in common is that, at times, they’re hard to quantify.  They’re either linebackers or offensive linemen, so there aren’t a lot of stats to analyze (especially since the NFL didn’t appear to keep track of tackles until the mid 80s).  So I’m left going a lot by memory.

 

And as I remember, Ben Leber and Gerald Dixon were both solid, serviceable linebackers.  In fact, Leber is still doing a stand-up job for the Vikings (and might still be with the Chargers if it weren’t for the drafting and the presence of Shawne Merriman).  But stats or no stats, they don’t really hold a candle to the winner of Golden Jersey #51.

 

The Winner

Woodrow_lowe_medium

Woodrow Lowe, LB

Lowe was by no means a superstar, but as far as I’m concerned he’s about as close to being a quintessential Charger player as anyone in their history (along with Gill Byrd) – and it’s not just because he appears near the top of several of the team’s all-time lists (including sacks and interceptions).  It’s because during a long tenure with the team (10 years from 1976-86), he saw EVERYTHING that a Charger player could see.  Bad times and good times – and then back to bad times.  Bad defense, good defense – then back to bad.  Bad players, good players, superstars, future Hall of Famers – then scrubs.  Bad coaches, good coaches – then good coaches gone bad.  And through it all, Lowe was the consummate Charger.  They were his only NFL team, and no other linebacker had more career interceptions.