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5 former Chargers nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Which former Bolts will see their legacy enshrined this year?

San Diego Chargers vs Oakland Raiders - October 16, 2005 Photo by Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced their 130 nominees for the 2021 class on Wednesday afternoon and there were five former Chargers players among them.

Fullback Lorenzo Neal, defensive end Leslie O’Neal, safety Rodney Harrison are joined by a pair of short-term Bolts in linebacker Takeo Spikes and safety Bob Sanders this year.

The 130 nominees will be whittled down to 25 players in November and the final 15 inductees will be announced this coming January.

Here are the Bolts’ nominees and a quick-and-dirty summary of their careers.

FB Lorenzo Neal (2003-2007)

Neal is enshrined in Chargers history as the man who paved the way for countless LaDainian Tomlinson touchdowns during some of the most prime years of his career, including the record-breaking 2006 campaign.

His “grown man” style of play was addictive and truly something to watch as one of the last great blocking fullbacks in the modern NFL. His lead blocks were felt through your television screen and it just wasn’t a Chargers game if you didn’t see Neal hollering on the sideline.

During his five years with the Bolts, Neal accumulated 363 rushing yards and a pair of scores to go along with 379 receiving yards and two more scores. He started 59 games in San Diego and played in a total of 77.

DE Leslie O’Neal (1986-1995)

The Chargers all-time sack leader with 105.5 played in San Diego for 10 seasons, starting 125 games and playing in 133 total. As a rookie, O’Neal won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award after notching 12.5 sacks, with five of them coming in one game. He would go on to record 12+ sacks in six other seasons, all of which were with the Chargers. At this moment, he’s still 36 sacks ahead of second place in team annals (Shaun Phillips - 69.5), which truly shows just how dominant he was in his day.

O’Neal ended his career as a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time Second-Team All-Pro. He was also named to the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary Team and a member of the Los Angeles Chargers Hall of Fame.

S Rodney Harrison (1994-2002)

Harrison began his career with the Bolts after being selected in the fifth round of the 1994 NFL draft. He started 97 games for the Chargers and made a pair of Pro Bowls in 1998 and 2001. As a member of the Patriots, he also won a pair of Super Bowls.

During his time in San Diego, Harrison accumulated 760 tackles, 29 sacks, 19 interceptions, three taken back for scores, 70 pass breakups, 16 forced fumbles, and 18 fumble recoveries with one returned for a touchdown. He currently holds the NFL record for sacks by a defensive back with 30.5.

LB Takeo Spikes (2011-2012)

Spikes spent the final two seasons of his career with the Bolts after playing the majority of his years with the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. While in San Diego, Spikes recorded 184 total tackles, six tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, a single interception, four pass breakups, and a pair of forced fumbles across 32 straight starts.

Over his lengthy 15-year career, the 1998 first-round pick finished with 1,431 tackles, 79 TFLs, 29 sacks, 19 picks, three pick-sixes, 70 PBUs, 16 forced fumbles, and 18 fumble recoveries with one returned for a score. He was a two-time Pro Bowler in both 2003 and 2004 and earned his lone First-Team All-Pro nod in that ‘04 season.

S Bob Sanders (2011)

I’m not sure if this one really counts, but he’s a former Iowa Hawkeye like myself and I didn’t feel right not including him on this list.

The 5’8 Sanders was barely with the Chargers, playing just two games during the 2011 season after leaving Indianapolis where he spent the first seven years of his career.

But prior to heading west, Sanders was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time First-Team All-Pro during the 2005 and 2007 seasons. The peak of his career came in ‘07 season when Sanders was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year after collecting 96 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, six pass breakups, and a fumble recovery.

Which of these players 100% need to be in the NFL Hall of Fame? Which ones will have a harder time getting in? Let us know what you think.