This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December still holds such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that makes it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.
Dec. 17: San Diego is Saved By Butts
Sometimes a title just says it all, and there’s nothing more to say.
This is not one of those times.
On this date, December 17, 1989, that San Diego was saved by Butts. Marion Stevenson Butts, Jr. (born August 1, 1966) played seven seasons in the NFL as large-body running back. He suited up for the San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots and the Houston Oilers from 1989 to 1995. He would end up making the pro bowl twice, but he is most well known for his years in San Diego, and especially for his gritty runs on December 17, 1989.
Drafted by the Chargers out of Florida State with the 183rd pick in Round 7 of the 1989 draft, Marion Butts would go on to lead the team in rushing for the next five years. Butts was immediately used as a starter during his rookie season, and he did peel off on a 50-yard run that first game, but it wasn’t until December that he really made his mark on the team.
It wasn’t a good year for the Chargers, who ended up at the bottom of the AFC West (6-10), but(t) four of those losses were achieved with a differential of 11 points. There was a reason to be optimistic (even though the next few years would be equally underwhelming), and it’s always a fun time to watch when division foes meet in December. In fact, Kansas City was pushing for a post-season wildcard chance when Marion Butts, Jr. ran all over them.
Butts rushed for a team-record 39 carries and 176 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs on that fateful day, ending the Chiefs’ postseason hopes and dreams (20-13). This win would propel the Steelers to the postseason (with both the Browns and the Oilers over top of them in the AFC Central), while the Broncos were the lone AFC West representatives. The Broncos would go on to lose the Super Bowl to the 49ers.
Marion Butts remains the #3 top rushing yardage earner for the Chargers. Interestingly, his total yardage is just 1⁄3 of the Chargers’ top earner, LaDainian Tomlinson.
-Jason “The Butts of all the Jokes” Michaels