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|Born:||June 10, 1951|
San Francisco, California
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||204 lb (93 kg)|
|High school:||St. Ignatius College Preparatory (San Francisco)|
|NFL Draft:||1973 / Round: 3 / Pick: 64|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Daniel Francis Fouts (born June 10, 1951) is an American former football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1973 to 1987. He led the NFL in passing yards four straight years from 1979 to 1982 and became the first player in history to throw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. The Chargers advanced to the AFC Championship Game twice during his career, but never reached the Super Bowl.
A member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, Fouts was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. He lives in Sisters, Oregon, and was a color analyst for NFL games on CBS television and Westwood One radio. He is the son of Bay Area Radio Hall of Famer Bob Fouts.
High school and college career
Born in San Francisco, Fouts attended Marin Catholic High School, located just north of San Francisco in Kentfield, California, for his two first years, and was the varsity starter as a sophomore in the fall of 1966. He decided to transfer to St. Ignatius College Preparatory (San Francisco) for his final two years of high school, and graduated in 1969.
Fouts was somewhat of an unknown when he accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Oregon to play for the Ducks in Eugene. Things were quite different after the All-Pac-8 quarterback's college football career concluded, as he set 19 school records, including those for career passing yardage (5,995) and total offense (5,871). He was inducted into the university's hall of fame in 1992.
Selected in the third round with the 64th overall pick of the 1973 NFL Draft, Fouts helped lead the Chargers to the playoffs from 1979 to 1982 and twice to the AFC title game (1980 and 1981). Over that span, San Diego finished in the top-4 in the NFL in points scored each season, twice leading the league. Fouts led the league four times in passing yards; ending his career with over 40,000, the third player to surpass that landmark. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Fouts was a six-time Pro Bowl selection (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985) and compiled passer ratings over 90.0 for a 3-year stretch (1981–83). He was the first NFL player to surpass 4,000 passing yards in three consecutive seasons (1979–1981), led the NFL in passing yards in four consecutive seasons (1979–1982) and six times eclipsed the 20-touchdown mark with a career-high 33 in 1981. His career high of 4,802 passing yards during the 1981 season was an NFL record at the time.
Fouts set NFL season passing yardage records in three consecutive seasons from 1979 to 1981 with totals of 4,082, 4,715, and 4,802 yards. He broke Joe Namath's professional record of 4,007 set in the American Football League in 1967, and Dan Marino broke Fouts' record in 1984 with 5,084 yards. The Chargers in 1979 were the first AFC Western Division champion to run more passing plays (541) than rushing (481). Fouts was a runner-up to Earl Campbell in Associated Press (AP) voting for both its NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Offensive Player of the Year Awards. The following season, Fouts set an NFL record with eight games of 300 yards or more passing and became the first quarterback to throw 30 touchdowns in a season since Daryle Lamonica in 1969. In 1982, a season shortened to 9 games because of a strike, Fouts averaged 320 yards passing per game, an NFL record that stood until Drew Brees averaged 342.25 in 2011. Highlights that season included back-to-back victories against the 1981 Super Bowl teams San Francisco (41–37) and Cincinnati (50–34) in which Fouts threw for over 400 yards in each game to lead the Chargers to shootout victories. That season, he was named the NFL MVP by Pro Football Writers Association and Newspaper Enterprise Association. He finished second in the AP poll behind Mark Moseley, the only kicker to ever win the award. However, AP voted him the league's Offensive MVP, as did Pro Football Weekly.
Fouts garnered All-Pro selections in both 1979 and 1982, while also being named 2nd Team All-Pro in 1980 and 1985. In addition, Fouts was also named 2nd Team All-AFC in 1981 and 1983. However, Fouts and the Chargers lost both AFC Championship Games in which they played.
Fouts's first few years in the league were inauspicious, but with the arrival of head coach Don Coryell in 1978 the Chargers' fortunes turned. Yet it was two years earlier, with the arrival of Bill Walsh as the Chargers' offensive coordinator, that the seeds of success were planted. Under Coryell, the Chargers were known as Air Coryell for the deep passing game and the involvement of the tight end as a key receiver. This required a tough, intelligent quarterback with a strong arm. Fouts fit the bill.
Fouts was not a mobile quarterback and the deep passing game led to many hits. Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, a Chargers assistant coach in 1976, said "Dan Fouts had a cool, steel-like nerve and courage ... He took a lot of beatings, a lot of pounding, but continued to play, hurt or otherwise. He played more physical football than anybody on his team, including the linebackers". Rarely using the shotgun, Fouts would drop back from center and look for one of a bevy of great receivers. Wide receiver Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow were the most famous, both now in the Hall of Fame, but John Jefferson and Wes Chandler, among others, were also key. Fouts's passing enabled Winslow to lead the NFL in receptions twice (1980,1981), while Winslow (1982) and Lionel James (1985) led the AFC in receptions on another 2 combined occasions. James set the NFL record (since broken) in 1985 for receiving yards by a running back at 1,027. Jefferson became the first receiver to have 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. Both Jefferson (1980) and Chandler (1982) led the NFL in receiving yards. Chandler's 129 yards receiving per game average in 1982 is still a league record. Both Jefferson (1978, 1980) and Chandler (1982) led the NFL in receiving TDs. In 1980, Winslow, Jefferson and Joiner became the first trio on the same team to have 1,000 yards receiving in a season. When he retired after 1986, Joiner was the NFL's all-time leader in receptions with 750.
Pass protection was also critical for such an offense. The Chargers had an excellent offensive line which protected Fouts well, and included four-time Pro Bowler Ed White, five-time Pro Bowler Russ Washington, 3 time Pro Bowler Doug Wilkerson, Billy Shields and Don Macek. The Chargers led the league in passing yards an NFL record 6 consecutive years from 1978 to 1983 and again in 1985 under Fouts. They also led the league in total yards in offense 1980–1983 and 1985.
Despite going to the playoffs from 1979 through 1982 and playing in two AFC Championship Games, the Chargers never went to the Super Bowl under Fouts (although they went 7 years after his retirement). Usually this is attributed to poor defense and their unwillingness to run the ball. In Fouts's prime the defense was not as stellar, but the running game became far better with the addition of Chuck Muncie, traded from New Orleans in 1980, and the drafting of James Brooks from Auburn in 1981. However, the defense suffered a loss when Fred Dean, an All-Pro sack specialist, was traded away to the San Francisco 49ers in 1981 in a contract dispute, and Dean would win UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year (while playing in only 11 games) that year en route to a Super Bowl victory and help the 49ers to another Super Bowl title three years later. Dean would later be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I can't say how much it affected us, because we did make it to the AFC championship game," said Chargers' All-Pro defensive lineman Gary "Big Hands" Johnson of the loss of Dean. "But I could say if we had more pass rush from the corner, it might've been different." U-T San Diego in 2013 called the trade "perhaps the biggest blunder in franchise history." Fouts himself would almost be traded in 1983 to the Baltimore Colts in exchange for the rights to John Elway due to a contract dispute, but would come to an agreement on an extension and Elway would be infamously traded to the rival Denver Broncos instead.
Overall, the Chargers achieved three wins against four losses in the playoffs under Fouts, who threw for over 300 yards in all but two of those games. One of their more notable wins was the 1982 playoff game known as The Epic in Miami, where Fouts led his team to a 41–38 victory by completing 33 of 53 passes for a franchise record 433 yards and 3 touchdowns on the hot and humid day. His completions, attempts, and yards in the game were all NFL postseason records at the time. The following week in the AFC championship game in Cincinnati, there was a 92 °F drop in temperature compared to the previous week in Miami, and the Chargers lost 27–7 in what is known as the Freezer Bowl.
The following season, he threw for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 31–28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round. Fouts's playoff career ended in the AFC Divisional Playoff game against Miami, where he threw 5 interceptions to only one touchdown pass. Fouts went on to play for four more seasons with the Chargers, retiring in 1987 after 15 years with them. He ended his career as the Chargers' all-time leader in passing yard and touchdowns with 43,040 and 254 respectively.
NFL career statistics
|Led the league|
|NFL Offensive Player of the Year|
Fouts finished his 15 NFL seasons with 3,297 of 5,604 completions for 43,040 yards and 254 touchdowns, with 242 interceptions. He also rushed for 476 yards and 13 touchdowns
Fouts was the second quarterback in NFL history to record two consecutive 30-touchdown passing seasons, following only Y. A. Tittle. He was also the third quarterback in NFL history to pass for 40,000 yards, after fellow Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas and Fran Tarkenton, and the first quarterback ever to throw for over 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
In 1999, he was ranked number 92 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
In 1992, he was inducted into the University of Oregon and State of Oregon Sports Halls of Fame.
Fouts was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993, his first year of eligibility.
In 2010, he received the Davey O'Brien Legends Award during Colt McCoy's award ceremony.
Chargers Franchise Records
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- Passing yards, season: 4,802 (1981)
- Passing yards per game, season: 320.3 (1982)
- Passing touchdowns, game: 6 (11/22/81 vs. Oakland)
- Passer rating, game (min 15 attempts): 158.3 (9/26/76 vs. St. Louis)
- Passing touchdowns, playoff game: 3 (twice, tied with Philip Rivers)
- Passing yards, playoff game: 433 (1/2/82 vs. Miami, also 2nd and 3rd place with 336 and 333 respectively)
- Passing attempts, playoff game: 53 (1/2/82 vs. Miami
- Completions, playoff game: 33 (1/2/82 vs. Miami
- Interceptions, career: 242
In 1988 through 1993, Fouts worked as an analyst on NFL on CBS. He worked with a variety of play-by-play announcers including Dick Stockton, James Brown, Verne Lundquist, Brad Nessler, Jim Nantz, Jack Buck, and Tim Ryan.
Fouts left CBS in 1994 to become a sports anchor for KPIX-TV in his hometown of San Francisco. In the fall of 1997, Fouts returned to network television as an analyst, this time serving as a college football analyst for ABC Sports alongside play-by-play man Brent Musburger.
In 1998 Fouts made his big-screen debut, portraying himself in the football comedy The Waterboy, starring Adam Sandler. Fouts and Musburger appeared late in the film as ABC Sports' broadcast team for the fictitious New Year's Day "Bourbon Bowl" game.
After Jackson's retirement from ABC in 2006, Fouts became a play-by-play announcer, adding his own commentary on the game at times since he was a former player and analyst. His broadcast partner for 2006 and 2007 was Tim Brant, now that Jackson had opted to permanently retire.
On February 11, 2008, ESPN announced they were not re-signing Fouts or his partner Tim Brant.
It was reported in USA Today on August 20, 2008, that Fouts was returning to CBS for NFL games with a variety of play-by-play announcers including Don Criqui, Ian Eagle, and Dick Enberg. In 2009, he was moved to partner with Enberg as the number 3 broadcasting team for the NFL on CBS. Fouts has since teamed with Eagle in the number three slot until 2014, when the pair was elevated to the number two team behind Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (and later, Tony Romo). Fouts and Eagle are often called "The Bird and the Beard".
He had been the play-by-play voice for Chargers preseason games carried on CBS stations throughout Southern California for many years (2012–2016), alongside fellow Charger alum Billy Ray Smith.
In April 2020 it was announced that CBS had parted ways with Fouts.
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