When creating a most influential list of people associated with a football team, of course, we all factor in legacy, M.V.P. caliber play, win-to-loss ratio, and overall production. I would also throw in the popularity of an individual too. But, after finally compiling my list of the four most influential Chargers, I was left thinking about one thing, does the significance of a team switching names and locations matter? Well, while selecting the Los Angeles Chargers four most influential people, it absolutely does.
Mount Rushmore: The Four Most Influential People In Chargers History
To explain my reasoning for simply using The Chargers, or The Bolts, which are pretty impressive NFL nicknames, I want to put in perspective the importance of the franchise in regards to relocating from Los Angeles to San Diego, back to Los Angeles. Quite honestly, it’s almost like two different teams of different era’s. You have, on one hand, The American Football League (AFL) San Diego Chargers of the 1960’s that were quite successful. Then you have a few decades of moderate success during the 1980’s after the NFL merger, which is highlighted by the impressive success of The Bolts during the 2000’s era.
Head Coach/General Manager: Sid Gillman
In 1961, after spending the previous year in Los Angeles, The Chargers relocated and became the San Diego Chargers. Their success as a franchise from 1960 to 1965 was astounding. They won five divisional crowns and defeated the Boston Patriots in 1963 to win the AFL Title. I credit The Chargers 1960’s success to their first Head Coach and General Manager Sid Gillman. He is the only coach of the Chargers to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame and San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. It was his innovative approach in the 1960’s, which includes introducing the deep downfield pass to football that made him a lock for this list.
Quarterback: Dan Fouts
This list wouldn’t be authentic without adding Hall of Fame Legend Dan Fouts. I know, I know, he never won a championship. Okay. And? See, Dan Fouts is one of the original, stay with your team forever, put up awesome numbers, break records kind of guy. Between the 1970’s and 1980’s his stellar play made it easy for his Number 14 jersey to be retired by The Chargers. This man, for 15 years, balled out. He led the NFL in passing from 1979 to 1982 and was the first quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Also, during those four years, Fouts led The San Diego Chargers to the playoffs. Most influential Chargers list? Yup.
Running Back: LaDainian Tomlinson
Not including LaDainian Tomlinson would be a travesty. LaDainian Tomlinson, a.k.a. “L.T.,” is perhaps one of the most recognizable figures to ever wear a Chargers uniform. Period. If the yelling of L.T. isn’t enough, gifting his Number 21 jersey can still put a smile on any Chargers fan’s face. He is just that popular.
From 2001 to 2009 L.T. was unstoppable, especially his 2004, 2006, and 2007 years. The recently inducted 2017 NFL Hall of Famer, L.T. was a sensational running back who could do it all: rush, throw and catch. Due to his immense body of work as an elite level football player and popularity, L.T. had to be on this list.
Quarterback: Philip Rivers
The Los Angeles Charges currently have a living legend on their roster, so this pick was easy. Since 2006, Philip Rivers has been the quarterback for The Chargers (he was drafted in 2004 but sat behind Drew Brees for two seasons). Out of all of his accomplishments, from multiple Pro Bowls, gaudy passer ratings, and an exceptional touchdown to interception ratio, he catches more heat for not winning when it matters. I call B.S. He is 36, still performing at an elite level, and is considered by most a top-five quarterback in the NFL. The Chargers have had the luxury of having a dependable quarterback such as Rivers. It’s just hard not to believe in Number 17, especially when you know he can do it all as the leader of the offense.
For a list like this, there were a few names I truly do regret not including. But, my omission of Junior Seau will not sit well for a while. All these players and coach’s hold a special place in the heart of Chargers fans. The Chargers, regardless of being called Los Angeles, or San Diego, has truly kept a loyal fan base due to the marvelous efforts of Head Coach/General Manager Sid Gillman, former quarterback and Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, former running back and Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson, and current Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers.
Was my Mount Rushmore of Chargers History accurate? We are talking about the four most iconic individuals associated with The Bolts. Who would be on your list? Remember, you can only pick four people, so good luck. Let us know below or on Twitter!