To quote the great PFT Commenter, "The grandist [sic] tradition of offseason takes is declaring Mount Rushmores of things. " With that and the fact that nothing has happened nor likely will happen for weeks, I present to you our Bolts from the Blue roundtable on the topic of the San Diego Chargers Mt. Rushmore. The only rule was that we were limited to selecting players (that means no Don Coryell, Sid Gillman, Bobby Ross, et alii). Without further ado:
LT - Far and away the best RB to wear lightning bolts, and one of the best RB's in league history. He was the first real "offensive weapon" as the only player with 1000+ rushing yards and 100+ receptions in a single season. He holds the record for most TD's in a single season. He was the fastest player to 100 career TD's, beating Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith by 4 games. He was flat out amazing.
Junior Seau - "Say-Ow" WAS San Diego for a long time. Like LT he was one of the best to ever play the game and just an amazing Charger.
Philip Rivers - I am putting him in over Dan Fouts. In 27 FEWER games than Fouts Rivers has 27 more TD's, 97 less INT's, 6% better completion percentage, a career quarterback rating 15.3 points better, and if he keeps his regular pace he will finish this season around 2,000 yards ahead of Fouts all time. Rivers loves this game and this team and he deserves to be on the Chargers' Rushmore.
Lance Alworth - 19.4 yards per catch for his Chargers career would be good for 10th all time in the NFL. Gates has him beat by 1100 yards and 23 TD's for their Chargers career, but Alworth has 350 FEWER RECEPTIONS. If they had the same number of receptions, and Alworth kept up his pace, he would be 42 TD's and 5600 yards ahead of Gates. He was the best pass catcher in Chargers History.
First, each player best symbolizes their respective era of Chargers’ on-field success.
WR Lance Alworth. No player symbolizes the AFL’s "wide-open offense" reputation more than Alworth, and justifiably the first AFL player inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame, During his Chargers’ career, Alworth averaged 55 receptions, 1064 yards (a ridiculous 19.3 YPC) and 9 TDs per season - this was years before the 1978 rules changes which prevented contact from DBs downfield.
QB Dan Fouts. Passing for 4,000 yards in a season is routine. Completing 60% of your passes is routine. Throwing 20+ TDs is routine. Dan Fouts was the first QB to accomplish all three feats in one season, and he did it in 1979. Fouts became the first QB to throw for 4,000 yards in multiple seasons (1979, 80, 81) and became the first QB to average 300 yards passing in a single-season (81).
LB Junior Seau. was pretty clearly the most dominant ILB of his era, as 12 Pro Bowls and 6 All-Pro selections clearly attests. Over his 13 year Chargers’ career, he averaged 99 tackles and 3.6 sacks per season.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson. In 9 seasons in San Diego, he averaged 1,827 yards from scrimmage rushing and receiving (4.82 yards per touch), 17 TDs, and only 3 fumbles out of 379 touches per season. Further, his 153 Chargers touchdowns would qualify him for 6th All-Time.
Ruben J. Gonzalez
Rivers will be the most accomplished QB in chargers history. He has been the face of the franchise for the past decade and his fiery game-day presence is one of a kind.
Seau For a while there, Seau was the best linebacker in football. He was the definition of his position. He is the definition of a Charger.
L.T. Look at any all-time RB list and you are sure to find LT at or near the top of it. His versatility rushing AND receiving made him one of the best weapons ever.
Alworth I never saw him pay, but the numbers are pretty impressive for his time. I imagine Alworth having his way, much like a college player would versus a high school team.
Russ Washington -- RT -- Was the only guy to play for both Gilman and Coryell. Consider the Chargers in their first 23 years had TWO starting RT's -- Mix and Washington.
Leslie O'Neil -- DE -- All-time franchise leader in sacks; he belongs in Canton. He was also one of the last of the free spirits in this game that was actually good.
Charlie Joiner -- WR -- Not only did he make the HoF as the Bolts most consistent receiver, he stayed in the game as a WR coach and had a positive impact on a lot of guys that wore the Bolt on their helmet.
Kellen Winslow, Sr. -- TE -- He redefined a position for the league. Whenever you see guys like Gronk, Gonzalez, and our own Antonio Gates do their thing in the modern game, you are seeing the ripple in the pond from the boulder that was Winslow that got thrown in that pond in 1979.
Seau, Fouts, Rivers, Tomlinson
They’re the four best and most important players in team history. Also, they’re the four best players by PFR’s "Approximate Value" in team history by a damn mile. Also, I think Gates would be half as good if he wasn’t catching passes from HOF QBs his whole career.
Riiiiight now, I'd have to echo Jeff's: Alworth, Fouts, Seau, Tomlinson. The most notable & impactful players of 4 different eras. Rivers would obviously be the face of the current era, and if I were to eschew pre-merger history, I'd replace Alworth with Rivers.
LaDainian Tomlinson - LT was the easiest selection to make. He is by far the greatest running back in history and is arguably the franchise's greatest player. Other guys have already laid out the statistics, so I won't rehash them, but what he did as a Charger was truly spectacular.
Junior Seau - Junior was not just the best defensive player to ever play for the Chargers; he was the San Diego Chargers. No player in my lifetime was as much the face of the franchise as Seau. His ability was incredible, but the energy he brought to the field was even more amazing. He was an easy choice.
And here is where it started to get difficult.
Philip Rivers - El Capitan has been the most efficient quarterback in the franchise's history and that combined with the fact that he is still playing and will likely eclipse Dan Fouts' career production as well gives him the slight edge at this time. If he continues his excellent play, he will clearly solidify his spot on the Chargers' Mt. Rushmore, but if he experiences some sort of collapse in the years to come, he could cede his place back to Fouts.
Lance Alwort h- Bambi is the best receiver to ever play for a franchise that has historically had some of the most prolific passing offenses in the NFL. Bonus points for being on the only San Diego team to win a major sports championship.
Anyway, let us know in the comments who would make your Chargers Mt. Rushmore.