Los Angeles Chargers retired numbers

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The Los Angeles Chargers are a professional American football team in the National Football League (NFL) based in the Greater Los Angeles Area. 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.[1] They returned to Los Angeles in 2017. NFL teams assign each of their players a jersey number ranging from 1 through 99.[2] The Chargers no longer issue four 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 consisted 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.[3] The Chargers have rarely retired numbers.[4] The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote, "The [Chargers] tend to honor their heritage haphazardly."[5]

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.[3][6] However, he came out of retirement in 1971 to play for the Oakland Raiders.[7] Then-Chargers owner Gene Klein, who hated the Raiders, unretired the number.[8]

Dan Fouts had his No. 14 retired in 1988, a year after his retirement.[9] 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.[10] 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."[11]

Alworth's No. 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.[5][9] 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 and averaged more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards a year with San Diego.[12][13] He retired with the most career yards (9,584) in team history, a record that held for almost 45 years.[a]

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.[15] Seau made 12 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances with San Diego.[16] 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.[17] However, Seau signed with the New England Patriots four days later, and continued playing until 2009.[18][19] Seau's No. 55 was retired in 2012 posthumously at his memorial.[8][20][21] "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.[16]

After LaDainian Tomlinson signed a one-day contract and retired as a Charger in 2012, Dean Spanos said his number would be retired in the future.[22] On November 22, 2015, the Chargers retired Tomlinson's No. 21.

Bob Wick, the Chargers equipment manager since 2000,[23] said he tried to keep Charlie Joiner's No. 18 out of circulation, even though it has not been officially retired.[3][8][24]

Retired numbers[edit]

No. Retired number
Player Name of player honored
Position Player position
Career Years played with Chargers
Retired Year number was retired
Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posthumously retired
No. Player Position Career Retired Ref
14 Dan Fouts* QB 1973–1987 1988
19 Lance Alworth* WR 1962–1970 2005
21 LaDainian Tomlinson* RB 2001–2009 2015
55 Junior Seau*† LB 1990–2002 2012
74[b] Ron Mix* OT 1960–1969 1969

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Antonio Gates broke the yardage record in 2014.[14]
  2. ^ Number was un-retired by the Chargers in 1971.


  1. ^ "San Diego Chargers History". Chargers.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012.
  2. ^ Johnston, Darly; Gigliotti, Jim (2005). Watching Football:Discovering The Game Within The Game. Globe Pequot. p. 27. ISBN 0762739061. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Sullivan, Tim (March 4, 2010). "Retiring a number can be tricky math problem". The San Diego Union Tribune. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Scholfield, Steve (July 14, 2005). "Chargers to honor AFL icon Alworth". North County Times. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Sullivan, Tim (August 15, 2006). "This time, icon finally receives proper sendoff". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012.
  6. ^ "Politics Lure Charger's Mix". Schenectady Gazette. December 3, 1969. p. 37. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  7. ^ Sullivan, George (2000). Any Number Can Play:The Numbers Athletes Wear. Milbrook Press. p. 58. ISBN 0761315578. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Canepa, Nick (May 13, 2012). "Chargers have several more numbers they should retire". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Notes: Fields upbeat; Clemson's Crosby confident; Cowboys, Jets deal". USA Today. -Associated Press. July 14, 2005. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012.
  10. ^ Burch, Jimmy (September 22, 2009). "Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts chosen as 2009 recipient of Davey O'Brien Award". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012.
  11. ^ Jenkins, Chris (November 28, 1988). "NFL: 49ers 48, Chargers 10". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  12. ^ Adelson, Andrea (July 17, 2005). "Titans have their share of off field problems". Gadsden Times. Associated Press. p. C8. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  13. ^ Magee, Jerry (November 20, 2005). "Receiving his due". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Alworth averaged more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards a year with the Chargers.
  14. ^ Acee, Kevin (October 23, 2014). "Gates breaks yardage record, still going". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on December 7, 2014.
  15. ^ Trotter, Jim (October 27, 2003). "Seau says his career has been rejuvenated with trade to Miami, but he'd rather be here". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Seau's 55 to be retired by Chargers". Chicago Tribune. The Sports Xchange. May 12, 2012. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012.
  17. ^ Trotter, Jim (August 15, 2006). "Many thanks". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012.
  18. ^ Wilson, Bernie (August 19, 2006). "Seau signs with New England". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Associated Press. p. 4B. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  19. ^ "Patriots LB Seau retires for fourth time in 20-year NFL career". NFL.com. Associated Press. January 13, 2010. Archived from the original on May 15, 2012.
  20. ^ "Charges retire Junior Seau's number at memorial service". FoxNews.com. Sports Network. May 12, 2012. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012.
  21. ^ "Seau honored at Qualcomm Stadium, Chargers retire No. 55". New York Daily News. May 12, 2012. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Jone, Welton (April 9, 2000). "Chargers nurture after-hours shooting star". The San Diego Union Tribune. p. E-3. "Be sure and put that in the paper," says Bob Wick, who replaced the legendary Sid Brooks as Chargers equipment manager this year
  24. ^ Sullivan, Tim (May 10, 2012). "'55' remains prime number for Seau". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012.
  25. ^ Jardine, Jeff (November 28, 1988). "Bad Timing". The Modesto Bee. p. D1. Retrieved May 13, 2012.
  26. ^ Gaughan, Mark (November 18, 2005). "Concussed Holcomb still listed as questionable". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2012.(subscription required)
  27. ^ Gehlken, Michael (June 10, 2015). "Chargers to honor LaDainian Tomlinson". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on June 14, 2015.
  28. ^ Williamson, Bill (May 12, 2012). "Chargers to retire Junior Seau's No. 55". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012.