San Diego Chargers retired numbers
The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team in the National Football League (NFL) based in San Diego, California. The club began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), and spent its first season in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego in 1961. NFL teams assign each of their players a jersey number ranging from 1 through 99. The Chargers no longer issue three retired numbers. As of 2010, the team's policy was to have the Chargers Hall of Fame committee evaluate candidates for a player's number to retire after the player has retired from the league after five years. The committee consists of Chargers Executive Vice President A. G. Spanos, Chargers public relations director Bill Johnston, San Diego Hall of Champions founder Bob Breitbard, and the presidents of the San Diego Sports Commission and the Chargers Backers Fan Club. There are few recognized guidelines in sports regarding retiring numbers, and the NFL has no specific league policy. "You have to have enough numbers for players to wear," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. The Chargers have rarely retired numbers. The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote, "The [Chargers] tend to honor their heritage haphazardly."
Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Mix in 1969 was the first Charger to have his number retired after he announced he was quitting football. However, he came out of retirement in 1971 to play for the Oakland Raiders. Then-Chargers owner Gene Klein, who hated the Raiders, unretired the number.
Dan Fouts had his number 14 retired in 1988, a year after his retirement. He was the first NFL quarterback to top the 4,000-yard passing mark in three consecutive seasons. He set a then-NFL single-season passing record in 1981, throwing for a career-high 4,802 yards. At the retirement of his number, Fouts asked for "more recognition of former players and a warmer relationship between Charger players and management. I'd like to see Lance Alworth's number retired, too. We've had some great players here."
Alworth's number 19 was retired in 2005, 35 years after he last played for the Chargers and 27 years after he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was still one of the most popular athletes in San Diego history. Nicknamed Bambi for his speed and graceful leaping skills, Alworth was a pioneer for the Chargers and the AFL in the 1960s. He was selected All-AFL seven times from 1963–1969, holds the team record for most career yards (9,584), and averaged more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards a year with San Diego.
The Union-Tribune in 2003 wrote that the Chargers no longer retired numbers, but Chargers president Dean Spanos said Junior Seau might be an exception. "If there's going to be another number retired, that's the one that's going to be retired," Spanos said. Seau made 12 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances with San Diego. He initially retired from the NFL in a 2006 ceremony with the Chargers, and the team planned to retire his number—as early as 2011—after his anticipated induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, Seau signed with the New England Patriots four days later, and continued playing until 2009. Seau's number 55 was retired in 2012 posthumously at his memorial. "His play on the field combined with his leadership and charisma became the face of this team for more than a decade. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this honor," said Spanos.
Bob Wick, the Chargers equipment manager since 2000, said he tried to keep the numbers of LaDainian Tomlinson (No. 21) and Charlie Joiner (18) out of circulation, even though they had not been officially retired. After Tomlinson signed a one-day contract and retired as a Charger in 2012, Dean Spanos said his number would be retired in the future.
|Player||Name of player honored|
|Career||Years played with Chargers|
|Retired||Year number was retired|
|Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame|
|14||Fouts, DanDan Fouts*||Quarterback||1973–1987||1988||
|19||Alworth, LanceLance Alworth*||Wide receiver||1962–1970||2005||
|55||Seau, JuniorJunior Seau†||Linebacker||1990–2002||2012||
- Number was un-retired by the Chargers in 1971.
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- "Politics Lure Charger's Mix". Schenectady Gazette. December 3, 1969. p. 37. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
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- Sullivan, Tim. "'55' remains prime number for Seau". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012.
- Wilson, Bernie (June 18, 2012). "Tomlinson signs 1-day contract with Bolts, retires". U-T San Diego. Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013.
- Jardine, Jeff (November 28, 1988). "Bad Timing". The Modesto Bee. p. D1. Retrieved Mayu 13, 2012.
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