Chargers’ Quarterback, Philip Rivers
(Eggi821 / bigstockphoto.com)
The San Diego Chargers play in the National Football League’s (NFL) American Football Conference (AFC) West Division. Established in 1959, they were a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) before it amalgamated with the NFL in 1970. Spending its first season in Los Angeles, it moved to San Diego in 1961 and has remained there ever since.
The Chargers may only have made one unsuccessful appearance at the Super Bowl but they have won 15 division championships during their history and made 18 appearances in the playoffs – their last being in 2013. Despite not being one of the big names of American football, they are a popular team and the future looks bright with a possible new stadium being on the horizon.
- Full Name: San Diego Chargers
- Conference: American Football Conference
- Division: West
- Location: San Diego, California
- Stadium Name: Qualcomm Stadium
- Year Established: 1959
- Owner: Alex Spanos, George Pernicano
- Head Coach: Mike McCoy
- Manager: Tom Telesco
- Nickname: The Bolts
- Mascot: None
- Team Colours: Navy Blue, Powder Blue, White, Gold
Inside Qualcomm Stadium
(Christopher Penler / Shutterstock.com)
The San Diego Chargers were formed in 1959 and were one of the original members of the new American Football League (AFL). Going 10-4 in their first AFL season, they lost the inaugural championship game to the Houston Oilers. After just one year being based in Los Angeles, the Chargers relocated to San Diego where they remain today. Winning 12 out of their 14 games in this season, they once again appeared in the AFL title game but sadly once again lost to the Houston Oilers.
The early success of the San Diego Chargers was seen by many to be down to the head coach, Sid Gillman, an innovative and visionary American football coach. It culminated in San Diego with players, such as Lance Alworth and Ron Mix, winning the AFL title against the Boston Patriots 51-10. Unfortunately, this was the last time they would reach the AFL championship game as the Chargers’ form tailed off considerably as the 60s went on.
1970 saw the AFL merge with the National Football League and the Chargers spent much of the 70s struggling, not having a winning season in the first eight years in their new league. However, 1978 saw a turn in fortunes when they hired the experienced Don Coryell as head coach. He worked with Dan Fouts, the Chargers’ quarterback and revolutionised his game, resulting in the Chargers leading the league in passing yards for six seasons in a row. Other superstars emerged during this time including Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner. It was a successful time for the Chargers and they reached the playoffs for four straight seasons between 1979 and 1982. By 1986, Coryell had had enough with the Chargers and he resigned in the middle of a nine-year playoff drought for the Chargers.
1992 saw the Chargers return to the playoffs, although it didn’t look like they would at the start of the season, losing their first four games. Unfortunately, they didn’t progress further after losing their second playoff game to the Miami Dolphins. 1994 was much better and saw San Diego win the divisional title and upset the much-fancied Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game. Playing in their first ever Super Bowl, the Chargers lost to the San Francisco 49ers by 49-26.
After this, Chargers entered into one of their worst ever runs of form, losing at least 11 games in four out of the five seasons between 1997 and 2001 with the year 2000 recording a 1-15 record. However, things were soon to improve and the San Diego Chargers win the AFC West championship in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and made their last playoff appearance in 2013.
Super Bowl Appearances
1994 Super Bowl XXIX San Diego Chargers 26 – San Francisco 49ers 49
Super Bowl XXIX is the only time that the San Diego Chargers have appeared in the Super Bowl. The game was played at the Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida on January 29, 1995 with Kathie Lee Gifford singing the National Anthem and a halftime show featuring Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, and the Miami Sound Machine. The game saw 74,107 spectators and a total audience of 83.4 million watch the favourites the San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers comprehensively 49-26 – the 49ers outscoring the Chargers in every quarter apart from the fourth.
Qualcomm Stadium (Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com)
The Qualcomm Stadium has been home to the San Diego Chargers since 1967 and has formerly been known as the San Diego Stadium (1967-1980), the Jack Murphy Stadium (1980-1997), and the Snapdragon Stadium (2011). The stadium’s most recent name is from when Qualcomm acquired the naming rights in 2011. Situated at 9449 Friars Road, San Diego, it has a capacity of 70,561. As well as being the home of the San Diego Chargers, it is also host to the San Diego Aztecs, the Holiday Bowl, and the Poinsettia Bowl.
The stadium is the first of the Octorad style stadiums and is one of the few ‘cookie cutter’ style stadiums still remaining active along with Washington’s Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. It has hosted a total of three Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XXII, Super Bowl XXXII, and Super Bowl XXXVII. As well as a host of sports, such as soccer, rugby and even supercross, the stadium has hosted a large number of other events. This includes gigs by Metallica, Guns and Roses, and Beyoncé. The stadium has played host to Billy Graham, the evangelist, American Idol auditions, as well as serving as an evacuation site during the Cedar Fire 2003 and the 2007 California wildfires.
Because of its age, a new stadium is badly needed, especially if it is to ever host another Super Bowl. Recently a joint venture with the Oakland Raiders fell through due to financial difficulties but there remains hope that the Chargers will be able to finance a new stadium in the next few years.
Lance Alworth (1962-1970)
Lance Alworth is without doubt the greatest San Diego Charger of all time. Known as “Bambi”, he may not be classed by some as one of the best wide receivers of all time, but that’s down to their lack of knowledge about his game rather than a lack of talent. The first AFL to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his speed and tactical awareness were legendary and he truly deserves his accolade as being the best ever player to play for the Chargers.
Junior Seau (1990-2002)
Junior Seau is undoubtedly one of the most popular players ever to play for the Chargers. Playing 13 seasons for the Bolts, he was voted to the Pro Bowl 12 times and no other Charger has more tackles or fumble recoveries than Seau. The best defender in the Chargers’ history, he’s also one of the best linebackers ever to play the game.
Take a look at the record book of the San Diego Chargers and you’ll see LaDainian Tomlinson’s name mentioned a lot. One of the most versatile and talented running backs ever to play the game, he was an exciting and dynamic player that really got the crowd excited. The only blot on his record is his general underperformance during playoff games but he remains one of the best and most popular players ever to play for the Chargers.
Did You Know?
- For their first ever season, the San Diego Chargers were actually known as the Los Angeles Chargers.
- Sid Gillman coached the Chargers to more victories in the 20th century than any other head coach, finishing his career with a win/loss record of 87-57-6.
- The first eve Charger inducted into the Pro Hall of Fame was Lance Alworth in 1978. He was also the first ever AFL player to be inducted.
- The first ever owner of the Chargers was Barron Hilton of the Hilton Hotels family.
- The San Diego Chargers have a number of famous fans including model, Heidi Klum, the UFC’s Chuck Liddell, golfer Phil Mickelson, and sports broadcaster, Chris Berman.