San Diego Chargers

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 21:33

The history of the San Diego Chargers

About the NFL team San Diego Chargers.

The San Diego Chargers is a professional team in American Football, originally called Los Angeles Chargers. It was founded by Conrad Hilton and originally owned by Barron Hilton. It is currently a member of the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The team began to play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League, spending its first season in Los Angeles, California prior to moving in to San Diego in 1961.

In 1959, the Chargers were founded along with seven other American Football League teams, and, in 1960, they began to play in the AFL at Los Angeles. The early years have been marked by the popular play of Lance Alworth gaining 543 receptions for 10,266 yards and setting the pro football record.

For the ten-year period, Hall of Famer Sid Gillman remained as the team's coach. Teamed with players such as Alworth, John Hadl, Paul Lowe, and Keith Lincoln, the Chargers gained high-scores to win five divisional crowns of the league’s first six seasons including the AFL title in 1963. In August 1966, the team was sold by Hilton to a group headed by Eugene Klein and Sam Schulman. The team started a "head to head" competition with the earlier members of NFL in 1967 that led their loss to the Detroit Lions during the preseason. In September of 1969 the Chargers thumped Super Bowl II defending champion New York Jets with a 34-27 record at San Diego Stadium with a crowd of 54,042 watching the game. The team was then led by Alworth in receptions with 64 and 1,003 yards with 4 touchdowns. Gillman stepped down in the same year due to health but remained as the general manager. Charlie Waller became the head coach after the regular season was completed.

After the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970, the team was placed into the AFC West division. The Chargers experienced difficulties by then; Gillman stepped down in 1971 and several players from the 1960s had either retired or traded. Veteran players like Deacon Jones and Johnny Unitas were drafted at the later stages of their careers, leading the team to struggle gaining third or fourth ranks in the AFC West each year starting from 1970 to 1978. In 1978 the Oakland Raiders did a game-winning play winning 21-20 over the Chargers. This resulted in the NFL changing their rules so that, during the last two minutes of a half or game, the player who originally fumbled is the only offensive player allowed to advance a fumbled ball. On the other hand, if there is another offensive player who recovers the fumble and advances the ball, the spot of the original fumble is the line of scrimmage after the play.

In December 1979, the team beat the Denver Broncos with a 17-7 record and gained their first AFC West division title after the AFL-NFL merger. The team had a short time in the playoffs having lost to the Houston Oilers with 7-14 in the divisional round. The Chargers in 1980 set a club record with 444 yards passing gaining victory over the New York Giants. Again they set their second straight AFC West title when they beat the Pittsburg Steelers in the regular season. During the playoffs, the Chargers won the divisional round against the Buffalo Bills but fell one game short of Super Bowl XV to the Raiders in a 34-27 record.

The team won their third straight AFC West title in 1980 but traded John Jefferson to the Green Bay Packers who was replaced by Wes Chandler. The Chargers played the Bengals in San Diego in 1982 to rematch the 1981 AFC Championship Game. The Chargers generated a total offensive yardage record of 661 that remains as the highest in the team history in beating Cincinnati with a 50-34 score. The team once again played in the playoffs in the 1982 strike-shortened season. They beat the Steelers in the first round but lost to the Dolphins in a rematch of their past game from the earlier season. With that loss, the Chargers then failed to make the NFL playoffs every season from 1983 to 1991.

In 1984 Alex Spanos bought in San Diego a majority interest from Klein and in 1985 Ed White played in 241 NFL games, setting an NFL record on the most all-time among offensive linemen. Al Saunders was named as the seventh head coach of the Chargers in 1986 after Coryell’s resignation. Despite ending up with six straight losses, the team finished with their first winning record since 1982. Fouts retired in 1982 after a 15-year career where he set seven NFL records and 42 club records also becoming the NFL's second most prolific passer of all-time with 43,040 yards.

Dan Henning in 1989 became the eighth coach of the Chargers’ history which lasted for three seasons as in 1992; Bobby Ross was named as the ninth head coach. In a trade with Redskins, quarterback Stan Humphries was drafted by the Chargers. The team had lost their first four games of the season but came back as the first 0-4 team to make the playoffs, winning 11 of the last 12 games finally capturing the AFC West title. Ross became the NFL Coach of the Year. The Chargers shut out the Kansas City Chiefs but they were beaten by the Dolphins in the divisional playoffs. The team finished fourth in their division garnering an 8-8 record. The Chargers made their first and, so far, only Super Bowl appearance in the 1994 season against the 49ers by winning their first six regular season games, the only NFL team to do so in 1994. The team did not have the same success games in 1995 but still managed to get into the playoffs where in the first round they were eliminated by the Indianapolis Colts.

In 1996, the Chargers would see the team struggle in pass protection where Humphries suffered several concussions, which eventually caused his retirement from the game. The Chargers took previous Oregon State University head coach Mike Riley as new head coach. After a series of trades and changes, Marty Schottenheimer was hired as a replacement to Riley in 2002. The team started the season with four straight victories where he became the only coach in the team’s history to win his first four games. In April of 2003, A.J. Smith replaced Butler who succumbed to cancer after a nine-month struggle. He became the Executive Vice President-General Manager. The Chargers also traded Seau to the Dolphins for a draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

In post-season 2004, the team earned a trip back by capturing the AFC West division title. The Chargers were eliminated by the New York Jets in the first round of the playoffs. Brees was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and Marty Schottenheimer the NFL Coach of the Year. In 2005 the Chargers lost their season finale to the Broncos, with Brees suffering from a dislocated shoulder ending the Chargers' 9-7 season.

In 2006, the Chargers started the season with efforts to improve on their 9-7 record in 2005, indeed finishing the campaign being the number one in the AFC with 14-2 record. However, the team losses in the home field playoff for the second time in the past three seasons during the last minutes to the New England Patriots with 24-21 record.

Again the team tried to improve on their record 14-2 in 2006 when they started the 2007 season. They returned a defensive unit that finished the 2006 season #1 in multiple defensive statistical rankings where the offensive unit directed the NFL in scoring.