The Chargers have a plethora of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While many who made the Hall are simply some of the best to ever play the game, other former Bolts earned their gold jacket from being transcendent talents and who authored record-breaking careers. Players like Lance Alworth and LaDainian Tomlinson should come to mind.
But there’s one former Charger who fits in that first category that somehow still hasn’t heard his name get called for the Hall, despite having the numbers to rival many of those already inducted.
That player is defensive end Leslie O’Neal.
Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports recently published a list of the best players for each of the 32 NFL teams that isn’t currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and O’Neal was his choice for the franchise. Take a look at what he had to say on the matter:
“I’m not going to ignore the strange fact that our receiver streak ends with the Chargers, who were synonymous with high-flying offenses during their first 25 years of existence. Shout outs are in order for former Chargers receivers John Jefferson and Wes Chandler, who enjoyed tremendous stretches of success catching passes from Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts. Russ Washington, the team’s best offensive linemen during the “Air Coryell” era, also received consideration.”
“The top spot here, however, goes to O’Neal, whose 132.5 career sacks is the same career total as Lawrence Taylor. Making O’Neal’s career even more impressive is the fact that he was able to rebound from a severe knee injury that wiped out his entire second season. A six-time Pro Bowler, O’Neal tallied at least 10 sacks in a season eight times. His 12.5 sacks during the 1994 season helped the Chargers capture their first AFC championship. From 1989-95, O’Neal recorded 89 sacks that included a career-high 17 sacks during the 1992 season.”
That first fact about O’Neal is what strikes me the most. This man has as many career sacks as Lawrence freakin’ Taylor. You know, one of the guys who is held in high regards as arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history. Yet somehow, despite taking down the quarterback just as many times, O’Neal is still on the outside looking in.
According to Pro Football Reference, Lawrence Taylor registered more than 10 sacks in a season seven times while — as mentioned above — O’Neal did it eight times. Both players also finished with a pair of defensive touchdowns.
Now this was a different time in football and I’m not going to act like I know nearly enough to make the case I may sound like I’m trying to make, but all of this is just to drive the conversation that maybe, just maybe, O’Neal deserves to be in the Hall of Fame like some of his counterparts.
What are all of your opinions on this matter? Should O’Neal be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Why do you think he hasn’t been inducted yet? Let me know your thoughts below.