CBS Sports has been working on a series called the “Franchise Five” where a number of writers take turns listing the five most-impactful players in each franchise’s history. The five individuals listed must contain a head coach, a quarterback, and three non-QB players.
This week, Jason La Canfora wrote out the franchise for the Chargers. And just a little spoiler, none of the people chosen are technically “Los Angeles” Chargers.
The five chosen to be a part of this pseudo-Mount Rushmore were former head coach Don Coryell, quarterback Dan Fouts, wide receiver Lance Alworth, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, and linebacker Junior Seau.
Coryell was the obvious choice at head coach as no other individual had more of an impact on both the Chargers franchise and the NFL combined. It still blows my mind he has yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame but that time is surely coming soon. He was the architect behind the “Air Coryell” offense that revolutionized the passing game in a time where contact rules were less strict and completing passes was not nearly as guaranteed as it is today. He took Fouts, Kellen Winslow, and Charlie Joiner and turned them into the household names they are today.
Now, in my opinion, the quarterback spot could have easily gone to Philip Rivers just as much as Fouts but Rivers wasn’t a part of any schematic breakthrough and the numbers Fouts put up in that era were wacky. In 1981, he threw for over 4,800 yards. That’s still incredibly hard to do TODAY. Can you imagine doing that 40 years ago when defensive backs could punch you in the mouth without a flag? It’s more and more impressive the longer I think about it.
The final three of Seau, Alworth, and Tomlinson were obvious selections. Three players who surpassed their reps as just Chargers and left their names ringing through history in every NFL circle.
Seau was a 6’3, 250 pound linebacker with the speed and athleticism of a modern day linebacker, but he played in the 1990s. He was so ahead of his time and it only takes watching any one game of his to see how different he was made. The passion and intensity he played with on a weekly basis was the inspiration behind countless future NFL defenders and that’s why he’s far-and-away the most notable defender in franchise history.
What else is there to say about LT? We all know the story. He got drafted, took the NFL by storm, broke a bunch of records, and then retired as one of the greatest to ever do it. To me, it’s still a bummer that he didn’t play his entire career with the Chargers, but that’s how the NFL goes sometimes. Tomlinson is the reason I am a Chargers fan so I can truly thank him for all he’s done for me, for who knows where I’d be without that 2006 season. Certainly not here, writing for all of you incredible people.
Lastly, there isn’t a credible list of greats from the Chargers without Alworth. “Bambi” was the first player in NFL history to average 100.0 yards receiving per game in back-to-back seasons. He was a First-Team All-AFL selection six times and became the face of the franchise during the those years where the Chargers started making the powder blue jerseys iconic.
What a list. Now on to the links.
Jason La Canfora lists the Chargers “franchise five” (CBS Sports)
Hayley Elwood wrote a editorial on RB Justin Jackson (Chargers.com)
Gavino Borquez discusses the players drafted by the Chargers in the NFL re-draft by Pro Football Focus (Chargers Wire)
Are the Chargers’ defensive tackles the weakest link on this defense? (LA Football Network)
Jason Reed lists the 17 most-memorable moments in Philip Rivers’ career (Bolt Beat)
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien will kneel with his players this season (Bleacher Report)
Jenna Laine dives into how Bruce Arians plans to “reignite the fire” in QB Tom Brady (ESPN)