HOME

TheInfoList




The professional
American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with goalposts at each end. ...

American football
team now known as the
Los Angeles Chargers The Los Angeles Chargers are a professional American football team based in the Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Chargers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the American Football Conference (AFC) ...
previously played in
San Diego San Diego ( , ; ) is a city in the U.S. state of California on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and immediately adjacent to the Mexico–United States border, Mexican border. With a 2020 population of 1,386,932, San Diego is the List of United ...

San Diego
as the San Diego Chargers from 1961 to 2016 before relocating back to
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be u ...

Los Angeles
where the team played their inaugural
season A season is a division of the year based on changes in weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or ...
. The Chargers franchise
relocatedRelocated may refer to: *Relocated (album), ''Relocated'' (album), 2006 album by Camouflage *''Red vs. Blue: Relocated'', 2009 television miniseries *"The Relocated", Inuit people of the High Arctic relocation {{disambig ...
from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961. The Chargers' first home game in San Diego was at
Balboa Stadium Balboa may refer to: Boats * Balboa 16 The Balboa 16 is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of Amer ...

Balboa Stadium
against the
Oakland Raiders Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public ad ...
on September 17, 1961. Their final game as a San Diego-based club was played at
Qualcomm Stadium San Diego Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium A multi-purpose stadium is a type of stadium A stadium (plural stadiums or stadia) is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stag ...

Qualcomm Stadium
in San Diego at the end of the 2016 season against the
Kansas City Chiefs The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectang ...

Kansas City Chiefs
, who defeated them 37–27.


AFL era (1961–1970)


1961–1966

The Chargers played in four of the first five AFL national championship games (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965) -- winning once (1963). In the early years, the
wide receiver A wide receiver (WR), also referred to as a wideout, historically a split end, is an eligible receiver in gridiron football. A key skill position of the offense (American football), offense, WR gets its name from the player being split out "wi ...

wide receiver
,
Lance Alworth Lance “Bambi” Dwight Alworth (born August 3, 1940) is an American former professional American football, football player who was a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (N ...
made 543 receptions for 10,266 yards in his career of 11 AFL and NFL seasons. He made a record at 96 consecutive games with a reception. With players such as Alworth,
Paul Lowe Paul Edward Lowe (born September 27, 1936) is an American retired professional American football, football player who was a Halfback (American football), halfback for the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs ...
,
Keith Lincoln Keith Payson Lincoln (May 8, 1939 – July 27, 2019) was an American professional football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most p ...
and
John Hadl John Willard Hadl (born February 15, 1940) is a former American football player, a quarterback in the American Football League and National Football League for sixteen seasons, with the San Diego Chargers, 1973 Los Angeles Rams season, Los Angele ...
, the Chargers reached the AFL championship game four times and won it once.


First Los Angeles era (1960)

In 1959, the team began as the "Los Angeles Chargers" when they entered the
American Football League The American Football League (AFL) was a major professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any ...
(AFL), joining seven other teams: the
Denver Broncos The Denver Broncos are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular ...
, Dallas Texans,
Oakland Raiders Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public ad ...
, New York Titans,
Houston Oilers Houston ( ) is the List of cities in Texas by population, most populous city in Texas, List of United States cities by population, fourth-most populous city in the United States, most populous city in the Southern United States, as well as th ...
,
Buffalo Bills ''Italic text'' The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference ...
, and
Boston Patriots Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formall ...
. The Chargers' first owner was
Barron Hilton William Barron Hilton (October 23, 1927 – September 19, 2019) was an American business magnate A business magnate is someone who has achieved great success and enormous wealth through the ownership of multiple lines of enterprise. The ter ...
, the son of
Conrad Hilton Conrad Nicholson Hilton Sr. (December 25, 1887 – January 3, 1979) was an American businessman known as the founder of the Hilton Hotels chain. Early life Hilton was born in San Antonio, New Mexico, San Antonio, in what was then the New Mexic ...

Conrad Hilton
, founder of the
Hilton Hotels Hilton Hotels & Resorts (formerly known as Hilton Hotels) is a global brand of full-service hotel A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a mod ...
corporation.
Lamar Hunt Lamar Hunt (August 2, 1932 – December 13, 2006) was an American businessman most notable for his promotion of American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridir ...
, who was instrumental in organizing the AFL, said that he had asked
Gene Mako Constantine "Gene" Mako ( hu, Makó Jenő ; January 24, 1916 – June 14, 2013) was an American tennis Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (Types of tennis match#Singles, singles) or between two ...
for a suggestion for somebody to start a team in Los Angeles and he recommended Hilton. Hunt said that he visited Hilton for less than an hour and Hilton immediately agreed to start a team. Barron Hilton held a contest to find a name for his team. The prize was a trip to Mexico. A man from
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of An ...
named Gerald Courtney submitted the name "Chargers" and won.''The American Football League''
McFarland 1997
Conrad Hilton said, "I liked
he name He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun) In Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the N ...
because they were yelling "charge" and sounding the
bugle The bugle is one of the simplest brass instrument A brass instrument is a that produces sound by of air in a tubular in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips. Brass instruments are also called labrosones or labrophones, fr ...

bugle
at
Dodger Stadium Dodger Stadium is a baseball park A baseball park, also known as a ballpark or diamond, is a stadium, venue where baseball is played. A baseball park consists of the baseball field, playing field and the surrounding spectator seating. While ...

Dodger Stadium
and at
USC USC most often refers to: * University of South Carolina The University of South Carolina (USC, U of SC, South Carolina, SC, or simply Carolina) is a Public university, public research university in Columbia, South Carolina. It has seven satel ...

USC
games". Hunt said he thought Hilton picked the team name from the first batch of letters as publicity for his new charge account business
Carte Blanche ''Carte Blanche'' (French, literally 'blank/white card', but figuratively 'unlimited discretionary power to act') may refer to: * ''Carte blanche'', or blank cheque, a cheque with no monetary value entered, figuratively an open-ended agreement ...
. The team's first general manager was
Frank Leahy Francis William Leahy (August 27, 1908 – June 21, 1973) was an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven ...
, a former
University of Notre Dame The University of Notre Dame du Lac, known simply as Notre Dame ( ) or ND, is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British ...
football coach. The team's first head coach was
Sid Gillman Sidney Gillman (October 26, 1911 – January 3, 2003) was an American football player, coach and executive. Gillman's insistence on stretching the football field by throwing deep forward pass, downfield passes, instead of short passes to runnin ...
from the
Los Angeles Rams The Los Angeles Rams are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangu ...
. His strength lay in offense innovation and he was later honoured in the Hall of Fame. Gillman (87-57-6) signed a contract with the team for three years. When Frank Leahy resigned due to poor health, Gillman became the general manager in addition to his coaching role. The Chargers planned to play at the
Rose Bowl Rose Bowl or Rosebowl may refer to: * Rose Bowl Game, an annual American college football game * Rose Bowl (stadium), Pasadena, California, site of the football game, and the home stadium of the UCLA Bruins Football, UCLA Football team * Rose Bowl ( ...
, but instead signed a lease to play at the
Los Angeles Coliseum The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (also known as the L.A. Coliseum) is a multi-purpose stadium in the Exposition Park, Los Angeles, Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Conceived as a hallmark of civic pride, the Coliseum was ...
. The Chargers were to host the first ever AFL national championship game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1961 (for the 1960 season). However, as its attendance for home games was falling below 10,000 league and ABC television officials fearing that showing empty seats in the 100,000+ seat Coliseum might jeopardize the entire league persuaded the Chargers to give up the advantage and move the game to Houston (where they lost).


San Diego

In December 1960, reports surfaced that Chargers were considering relocation offers from San Diego, Atlanta and Seattle. Greg Gregston of the
San Diego Union ''The San Diego Union-Tribune'' is an American metropolitan daily newspaper, published in San Diego, California. Its name derives from a 1992 merger between the two major daily newspapers at the time, ''The San Diego Union'' and the ''San Dieg ...

San Diego Union
reported that the Chargers "have learned in one season that Los Angeles has been saturated beyond sensible proportions with sports." In January 1961, the team announced the move to
Balboa Stadium Balboa may refer to: Boats * Balboa 16 The Balboa 16 is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of Amer ...

Balboa Stadium
in Balboa Park,
San Diego San Diego ( , ; ) is a city in the U.S. state of California on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and immediately adjacent to the Mexico–United States border, Mexican border. With a 2020 population of 1,386,932, San Diego is the List of United ...

San Diego
. Hilton was reported to have lost $900,000 in the first season. San Diego would spend $250,000 to increase stadium seating from 22,000 to 30,000; adding back rests for reserved seats; raising the scoreboard; upgrading the locker rooms; moving the football field closer to the stands and reseeding it; and improving security measures. The Junior Chamber Commerce reported that there were 10,000 firm commitments for season tickets. Seating was increased even more in May 1961 with upper deck bring the total capacity to 34,000; both Atlanta and Seattle would later get NFL teams of their own, when the
Falcons Falcons () are birds of prey in the genus ''Falco'', which includes about 40 species. Falcons are widely distributed on all continents of the world except List of birds of Antarctica, Antarctica, though closely related raptors did occur there i ...
were enfranchised in 1966, and the Seahawks began play in 1976, respectively. By then,
Detroit (strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both sides and through the strait in either direction. Mo ...

Detroit
native
George Pernicano George Pernicano (December 12, 1917 – October 6, 2016) was an American businessman. Along with Barron Hilton and other prominent San Diegans, Pernicano brought the Los Angeles Chargers to San Diego in 1961. He originally owned 7% of the team, bu ...
(19172016) had become a minor shareholder in the team. In the 1961 season, their first in San Diego, the team's defense made forty-nine pass interceptions. The term, "Fearsome Foursome" described the 1961 Chargers' defensive players' lineup. The anchoring players were
Earl Faison Earl Faison (January 31, 1939 – June 12, 2016) was an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players ...
and
Ernie Ladd Ernest Ladd (November 28, 1938 – March 10, 2007), nicknamed "The Big Cat", was an American professional American football, football player and professional wrestling, professional wrestler. A standout athlete in high school, Ladd attended Gram ...
. The "Fearsome Foursome" phrase was later used by other NFL teams. In 1961, the Chargers lost the championship to Houston 10–3, with 29,556 patrons attending the game at Balboa Stadium. In 1962, the team went 4–10, losing eight of the final nine games of the season, mostly due to injuries. In the 1963 season, eight Charger players scored in the final week.
Paul Lowe Paul Edward Lowe (born September 27, 1936) is an American retired professional American football, football player who was a Halfback (American football), halfback for the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs ...
rushed ''Rushed'' is a 2021 American mystery thriller drama film directed by Vibeke Muasya and starring Siobhan Fallon Hogan (who also wrote the screenplay and co-produced the film) and Robert Patrick. Plot Barbara O’Brien, an Irish-Catholic mother in ...
over 183 yards, scoring 2
touchdown A touchdown (abbreviated as TD) is a scoring play in gridiron football Gridiron football,
touchdown
s on 17 carries. In the final regular season game, the Chargers beat
Denver Denver () is a consolidated city and county, the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more forma ...

Denver
58–20 and became the AFL West champions. The season ended a week late due to a postponement of games after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The Chargers won the 1963 AFL title when they defeated the Boston Patriots 51–10. Spectators numbering 30,127 attended the game at Balboa Stadium.
Keith Lincoln Keith Payson Lincoln (May 8, 1939 – July 27, 2019) was an American professional football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most p ...
's effort made up 349 yards of the total offense. In 1964, the Chargers played the
New York Jets The New York Jets are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangula ...
resulting in 17–17 tie. A reported attendance of 50,222 attended the game at
Shea Stadium Shea Stadium (; formally known as William A. Shea Municipal Stadium) was a multi-purpose stadium A stadium (plural stadiums or stadia) is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or s ...

Shea Stadium
, New York. The game earned $46,828 in entrance fees. On
Thanksgiving Day Thanksgiving is a national holiday A holiday is a day set aside by Norm (social), custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work including school, are suspended or reduced. Generally, holidays are intended to all ...
, Buffalo defeated the Chargers 27–24 at Balboa Stadium. The attendance was 34,865 spectators. The Chargers won their fourth AFL West title by defeating the Jets 38–3 before 25,753 spectators at Balboa Stadium. Lance Alworth left the game with a knee injury, and the fullback, Keith Lincoln was sidelined in the first quarter with a fractured rib. At the 1964 championship game in Buffalo, the Chargers were beaten 20–7. The AFL teams signed a five-year television contract with the
National Broadcasting Company The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), c ...
for $36 million to commence in 1965. On December 12, 1965, San Diego (9-2-3) won their fifth AFL West title by defeating Houston 37–26. Lowe came first and Alworth second in the player chosen for AFL Player of the Year honors. Buffalo shut out the Chargers 23–0 in front of 30,361 spectators at Balboa Stadium for the AFL championship. At half time, a new automobile, the "
Charger Charger or Chargers may refer to: * NATO code name for the Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic transport * Convair Charger prototype light attack and observation aircraft * Charger (table setting), decorative plates used to fancify a place setting * Battery ...

Charger
," was introduced by Chrysler officials. It would enter production made by Dodge the following year. In 1966, Hilton sold the Chargers to a 21-member group of business executives for $10 million. The leading investors were Eugene V. Klein and
Sam Schulman Samuel Schulman (April 10, 1910 – June 12, 2003) was an American businessman from New York who was a founding owner and President of the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association and an owner of the San Diego Chargers of the ...
. The Chargers finished third in the AFL West that season, 7-6-1.NFL History: 1961–1970
NFL.com. Accessed July 29, 2007.
During the sale process, a then-23 year old
Jerry Jones Jerral Wayne Jones (born October 13, 1942) is an American businessman who has been the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football American football, referred ...
(who would go on to become the owner of the
Dallas Cowboys The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport p ...

Dallas Cowboys
) offered $5.8 million for the team, but backed off after his father disapproved of his plans. In 1967, the Chargers and the Rams played three preseason games at the new San Diego Stadium. The AFL and the NFL announced plans to merge for the 1970 season.


1967–1970

In August 1967, the Chargers moved to the newly completed
San Diego Stadium San Diego Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium in San Diego, San Diego, California. The stadium opened in 1967 as San Diego Stadium, and was known as Jack Murphy Stadium from 1981 to 1997. From 1997 to 2017, the stadium's naming rights were owned ...
. In 1967, the Chargers played the NFL's Detroit Lions in a pre-season game with 45,988 spectators in attendance. Detroit defeated the Chargers 38–17. In the fifth week of the season, Leslie "Speedy" Duncan had 203 yards in returns, 35 yards on a fumble recovery for a touchdown, 68 yards on four kickoff returns, and 100 yards for a touchdown. In the Charger's game against Kansas City, the team won 45–31. In this game, the team's combined effort was 897 yards offense and 622 yards in returns. In the 11th week, the Chargers were defeated by Oakland 41–21 with 52,661 spectators at the game. In addition, 2,018 viewers watched the game on
closed-circuit television Closed-circuit television (CCTV), also known as video surveillance, is the use of video camera A video camera is a camera A camera is an optical Optics is the branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπισ ...
in the San Diego Sports Arena. In 1968, the Chargers played a first pre-season game at the San Diego Stadium against the NFL team, the
San Francisco 49ers The San Francisco 49ers (also written as the San Francisco Forty Niners) are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport ...
. The Chargers won 30–18, before 39,553 spectators. "Speedy" Duncan set an AFL record with a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown in a game where the Chargers were defeated by the New York Jets 37–15. The Chargers came third in the West Division, with a 9–5 record. Quarterback John Hadl led the AFL that year with 440 pass attempts, 208 completions, 3,473 yards taken and 27 touchdown passes. He also led in passes intercepted, with 32. In the 1969 season, the Chargers lost their first two games. They then defeated the Jets in an at home game with 54,042 spectators.
Joe Namath Joseph William Namath (; ; born May 31, 1943) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any ...

Joe Namath
played for the Jets. Hadl and Alworth played for the Chargers. Hadl made a professional record with a pass reception in his 96th consecutive game. The Chargers won the next three games and then lost four. Their last game was against Buffalo where they won 45–6. The team finished with an 8–6 record and out of the playoffs. Charlie Waller, the offensive backfield coach was named head coach. Gillman had resigned after the season's ninth game due to illness but continued as the team's general manager.


1970–1977 (Joining the NFL)

In 1970, the San Diego Chargers settled into the
AFC West The American Football Conference – Western Division or AFC West is one of the four division Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication *Division algorithm, a method for computing the ...
division following the NFL merger with the AFL. The years after the merger were difficult for the Chargers. Charlie Waller took over as the head coach, but after finishing 5-6-3, he stepped down, and Gillman returned to the job. Gillman resigned midway through the 1971 season, which ended with six wins and eight losses. In 1972,
Duane Thomas Duane Julius Thomas (born June 21, 1947) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players o ...
and
Deacon Jones David D. "Deacon" Jones (December 9, 1938 – June 3, 2013) was an American professional football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is th ...

Deacon Jones
joined the team, which finished with a 4–9–1 record. In 1973, veteran
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
Johnny Unitas John Constantine Unitas (; May 7, 1933 – September 11, 2002) was an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams o ...

Johnny Unitas
, formerly from the Baltimore Colts joined the Chargers. Unitas was almost 40 and had chronic injuries. He played three games and then was replaced by the rookie
Dan Fouts Daniel Francis Fouts (born June 10, 1951) is an American former American football, football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons. He led the NFL in passing yards four straight years from 19 ...

Dan Fouts
. The Chargers finished with a 2–11–1 record. In the 1974 season, Fouts was named the new the starting quarterback.
Don Woods Donald Woods (1933–2001) was a South African journalist and activist. Donald or Don Woods may also refer to: * Donald Woods (actor) (1906–1998), Canadian-born American film and television actor * Donald Devereux Woods (1912–1964), British mi ...
also joined the team. Woods ran for over 1,000 yards but the team had a 5–9 record. However, in 1975, Woods and Fouts underperformed and the team finished 2–12. In 1976, the Chargers began with a three-game win streak but finished with a 6–8 record. In 1977, the Chargers again began strongly. However, the team lost four out of five games. Fouts in a contract dispute did not report to training camp; and held out until it was resolved when he rejoined his team for The 11th week. They went 2–2, losing to the powerhouse Steelers and Broncos by a combined total of 9 points. The team finished 7–7.


Air Coryell era (1978–1986)

San Diego hired head coach
Don Coryell Donald David Coryell (October 17, 1924 – July 1, 2010) was an American football coach, who coached in the National Football League (NFL) first with the St. Louis Cardinals (NFL), St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) from 1973 St. Louis ...
in 1978, who would coach the team until 1986. Coryell developed a pass-heavy offensive scheme and philosophy known as
Air Coryell In American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with go ...
, also known as the "Coryell offense" or the "vertical offense". With
Dan Fouts Daniel Francis Fouts (born June 10, 1951) is an American former American football, football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons. He led the NFL in passing yards four straight years from 19 ...

Dan Fouts
as quarterback, the San Diego Chargers' offense was among the greatest and most exciting passing offenses in
National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any s ...
history, setting league and individual offensive records. The Chargers led the league in passing yards an NFL record six consecutive years from 1978 to 1983 and again in 1985. They also led the league in total yards in offense 1978–83 and 1985. Under the tutelage of Coryell,
Dan Fouts Daniel Francis Fouts (born June 10, 1951) is an American former American football, football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons. He led the NFL in passing yards four straight years from 19 ...

Dan Fouts
, wide receiver
Charlie Joiner Charles B. Joiner Jr. (born October 14, 1947) is an American former professional American football, football player who was a wide receiver in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons. He is best know ...

Charlie Joiner
, and tight end
Kellen Winslow Kellen Boswell Winslow Sr. (born November 5, 1957) is an American former professional American football, football player in the National Football League (NFL). A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1995), he is widely recognized as one of ...
blossomed on the field and would all be inducted into the
Pro Football Hall of Fame The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame A hall, wall, or walk of fame is a list of individuals, achievements, or animals, usually chosen by a group of electors, to mark their fame Fame is the quality of being well-known and in the ...
. The Chargers earned four consecutive playoff appearances (1979–82) during the Air Coryell era, including three AFC West division championships (1979–81).


1978

In 1978, the NFL increased the season schedule to sixteen games. The rules were changed so that defensive backs could no longer block wide receivers more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. In the opening game of the season, the Chargers beat Seattle 24–20. On September 10, 1978, the second game was played against the Oakland Raiders at
Jack Murphy Stadium San Diego Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium in San Diego, San Diego, California. The stadium opened in 1967 as San Diego Stadium, and was known as Jack Murphy Stadium from 1981 to 1997. From 1997 to 2017, the stadium's naming rights were owned ...
in San Diego. The game became known as the "Holy Roller" game, or, the "Immaculate Deception" because the Raiders made a game-winning play.Inside the "Holy Roller" play
NFL.com. Accessed July 29, 2007
With 10 seconds left in the game, the Raiders had possession of the ball at the Chargers' 14-yard line. The Chargers were ahead 20–14. The Raiders quarterback,
Ken Stabler Kenneth Michael Stabler (December 25, 1945 – July 8, 2015), nicknamed "Snake", was an American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 17 seasons, primarily with the History of the Oakland Raiders, Oakland Ra ...
, took the snap but was about to be sacked by the Chargers' line-backer, Woodrow Lowe on the 24-yard line. Stabler fumbled the ball forward, and it rolled forward towards the San Diego goal line. Running back, Pete Banaszak, tried to recover the ball on the 12-yard line, but could not keep his footing, and the ball was pushed even closer to the end zone. The Raiders' tight end, Dave Casper, was the next player to reach the ball but he also could not get a hand on it. He batted and kicked the ball into the end zone, where he fell on it for the game-tying touchdown as time ran out. With the ensuing extra point by kicker, Errol Mann, the Raiders won 21–20. The Chargers' fans saw the fumble as an incomplete pass or an intentional grounding. In the remaining minutes of the game, the teams battled for the ball towards the end zone where the Raiders ultimately recovered it for a touchdown. The Chargers lost their third game to Denver then in week four, the Chargers played the
Green Bay Packers The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Spo ...

Green Bay Packers
in an interconference match in San Diego. At the kickoff, the temperature was around 102 °F (38 °C). The Packers won 24–3. After this loss, the Chargers' head coach,
Tommy Prothro James Thompson "Tommy" Prothro Jr. (July 20, 1920 – May 14, 1995) was an American football coach. He was the head coach at Oregon State Beavers football, Oregon State University from 1955 to 1964 and the UCLA Bruins football, University of Cali ...
was dismissed. He was replaced by Don Coryell of the St. Louis Cardinals. In
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...

New England
, the Chargers won their first game under Coryell's coaching. When they returned, San Diego was still recovering from the recent
PSA Flight 182 Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) Flight 182 was a Boeing 727-214 commercial airliner, registration A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration may refer to: Arts entertainment, and media Music * ...
. The Chargers' defeating Denver in San Diego was morale boosting for the city. Coryell coached the team in his "Air Coryell" offense: Fouts threw to a trio of receivers (
Charlie Joiner Charles B. Joiner Jr. (born October 14, 1947) is an American former professional American football, football player who was a wide receiver in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons. He is best know ...

Charlie Joiner
,
John Jefferson John Larry Jefferson (born Washington; February 3, 1956) is an American former professional football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is ...
and tight end
Kellen Winslow Kellen Boswell Winslow Sr. (born November 5, 1957) is an American former professional American football, football player in the National Football League (NFL). A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1995), he is widely recognized as one of ...
). The Chargers won nine games and lost seven, thus missing the
playoff The playoffs, play-offs, postseason or finals of a sports league A sports league is a group of sports team A sports team is a group of individuals who play sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activi ...
s.


1979

In 1979,
The Sporting News ''Sporting News'' is a website and former magazine publication owned by Sporting News Holdings, which is a U.S.-based sports media company formed in December 2020 by a private investor consortium. It was originally established in 1886 as the pri ...
named the Chargers' team general manager, John Sanders, the NFL Executive of the Year. Fouts set an NFL record by playing four consecutive 300-yard passing games. His achievement was established in a game in which he threw over 303 yards against the
Oakland Raiders Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public ad ...
. The Chargers defeated the
New Orleans Saints The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectan ...

New Orleans Saints
35 points to nil and proceeded to the playoffs, the first time in fourteen years. On December 17, 1979, the Chargers won their first AFC West division title by defeating the
Denver Broncos The Denver Broncos are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular ...
17–7 before a national
Monday Night Football ''ESPN Monday Night Football'' (abbreviated as ''MNF'' and also known as ''ESPN Monday Night Football on ABC'' for simulcasts) is a live television Live television is a television production A television show – or simply TV show – ...
television audience and their home crowd. In the divisional round, the
Houston Oilers Houston ( ) is the List of cities in Texas by population, most populous city in Texas, List of United States cities by population, fourth-most populous city in the United States, most populous city in the Southern United States, as well as th ...
defeated the Chargers 17–14. Ron Mix became the second AFL player and second Charger to be nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The announcement was made during the
half-time In several team sport A team sport includes any sport where individuals are organized into opposing sports team, teams which compete to win. Team members act together towards a shared objective. This can be done in a number of ways such a ...
of the AFC-NFC
Pro Bowl The Pro Bowl is the all-star game of the National Football League (NFL). From the AFL–NFL Merger, merger with the rival American Football League (AFL) in 1970 up through 2013 and since 2017, it is officially called the AFC–NFC Pro Bowl, match ...
.Chronology 1970–1979
Chargers.com. Accessed July 29, 2007.


1980

In 1980, running back Chuck Muncie was traded to the team from the New Orleans Saints. Fouts set a club record with 444 yards passing in the Chargers' 44–7 defeat of the New York Giants.
Chargers. com. Accessed July 29, 2007.
Kellen Winslow caught 10 passes for 171 yards. The Chargers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 26–17, winning their second straight AFC West title. They finished the season with 11–5 losses, a record for the team. Jefferson (1,340), Winslow (1,290), and Joiner (1,132) became the first three players on the same team to have 1,000 yards receiving in a season. The Chargers' defense led the NFL in sacks (60). The defensive front line included the 1975 Chargers' draftees
Fred Dean Frederick Rudolph Dean (February 24, 1952October 14, 2020) was an American professional American football, football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL). A two-time first-team All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowler, ...
,
Gary "Big Hands" Johnson Gary Lynn "Big Hands" Johnson (August 31, 1952 – August 4, 2010) was an American professional American football, football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL). He was a four-time All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowl ...
and
Louie Kelcher Louis James Kelcher (born August 23, 1953) is an American retired professional American football, football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL), spending most of his career with the San Diego Chargers (now the Los ...

Louie Kelcher
. Together with
Leroy Jones Image:leroy-jones_DSC08944.jpg, 300px, Leroy Jones in Denmark 2017 Leroy Jones (born February 20, 1958) is a jazz trumpeter from New Orleans, Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana. Jones began playing trumpet at the age of ten, and by the time he was ...
, the front line was known as the " Bruise Brothers". In the playoffs, the Chargers defeated the Buffalo Bills 20–14. However, their season ended in the AFC Championship Game at the hands of the eventual
Super Bowl The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). It has served as the final game of every NFL season since 1966, replacing the NFL Championship Game. Since 2004, the game has been played on the first Sunday ...
champion
Oakland Raiders Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public ad ...
34–27.


1981

In
1981 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years). This day is known as New Year's Day since the day ...
, the Chargers won their third straight
AFC West The American Football Conference – Western Division or AFC West is one of the four division Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication *Division algorithm, a method for computing the ...
title with a 10–6 record. After the division titles of the 1979 and 1980 seasons, contract disputes arose. Klein, the team owner, refused to renegotiate players' contracts. The Chargers' owner traded the wide receiver, John Jefferson, to the
Green Bay Packers The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Spo ...

Green Bay Packers
after a salary raise could not be agreed upon. Jefferson was replaced by Wes Chandler. Defensive end, Dean was traded to the 49ers again after a pay dispute.Say it ain't so: San Diego Chargers
Sports Illustrated. Accessed August 4, 2007.
Dean said his wage was similar to that of his brother, a truck driver. After playing eleven games of the season, Dean went on to become the UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year. In 1980 and 1981, without Jefferson, the Chargers no longer had the most passing yards in the NFL. "I can't say how much it ean's leavingaffected us, because we did make it to the AFC championship game", said Johnson on the loss of fellow lineman Dean. "But I could say if we had more pass rush from the corner, it might've been different." In the 1981 playoffs divisional round, the Chargers defeated the
Miami Dolphins The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular ...

Miami Dolphins
41–38 at the
Miami Orange Bowl The Miami Orange Bowl was an outdoor athletic stadium in Miami, Florida from 1937 until 2008. Located in the Little Havana neighborhood west of Downtown Miami, Downtown, it was considered a landmark, and was the home stadium for the Miami Hurri ...

Miami Orange Bowl
where the temperature on the humid day was 85 °F (29.4 °C). The game became known as "
The Epic in Miami The Epic in Miami was the National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridir ...
".
ESPN ESPN (originally an initialism for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is an American multinational basic cable Cable television Cable television is a system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequen ...

ESPN
journalists named the epic the best game in NFL history. Both teams showed strong offense. The Chargers were led by Fouts who made an NFL single season record of 4,802 yards and 33
touchdown A touchdown (abbreviated as TD) is a scoring play in gridiron football Gridiron football,
touchdown
s. This game set records for the most points scored in a playoff game (79 points);1981 Chargers/Dolphins Playoff Game Honored
Chargers Stats. Accessed July 29, 2007.
the greatest total yards by both teams (1,036 yards); and the most passing yards by both teams (809 yards). The Chargers placekicker,
Rolf Benirschke Rolf Joachim Benirschke (born February 7, 1955) is an American former professional football Football is a family of s that involve, to varying degrees, a to score a . Unqualified, normally means the form of football that is the most p ...

Rolf Benirschke
kicked the winning 29-yard field goal after 13 minutes and 52 seconds overtime. The tight end, Kellen Winslow, made 13 receptions for 166 yards, a touchdown and one blocked field goal. He became exhausted and was assisted from the field by his teammates. The win sent the Chargers to their second consecutive AFC Championship Game. At the
championship game A champion (from the late Latin ''campio'') is the victor in a challenge, contestCONTEST is the United Kingdom, United Kingdom's counter-terrorism strategy. It was first developed by Sir David Omand and the Home Office in early 2003 as the im ...
in Cincinnati, the defeated the Chargers 27–7. The game became known as the "
Freezer Bowl In National Football League lore, the Freezer Bowl is the nickname given to the 1981 NFL season, 1981 American Football Conference, AFC AFC Championship Game, Championship Game between the 1981 San Diego Chargers season, San Diego Chargers and t ...
". The temperature was a record low with a wind-chill factor of −59°.


1982–1986

During the strike-shortened 1982 season, Fouts averaged 320 yards passing per game. At that time, that average was a record. The Chargers defeated San Francisco 41 points to 37 and Cincinnati 50 points to 34. In each game, Fouts threw for over 400 yards. In the game against Cincinnati on December 20, 1982, the Chargers' made 501 yards passing and 175 yards rushing. Chandler set a record of 129 yards receiving per game. The Chargers reached the playoffs for the fourth straight year, finishing 5th in the AFC (divisional standings were disregarded due to the abbreviated schedule). The team upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh 31–28, but the Dolphins would exact revenge from their loss the previous year the next week 34–17. In
1984 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years). This day is known as New Year's Day since the day m ...
, Klein decreased salaries in preparation for the team's sale. The defensive linemen, Johnson and Kelcher, left for San Francisco. On August 1, 1984,
Alex Spanos Alexander Gus Spanos (September 28, 1923 – October 9, 2018) was an American billionaire real estate developer, founder of the A. G. Spanos Companies, and the majority owner of the Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). Ea ...
purchased a majority interest in the Chargers. Benirschke was named "Miller Man of the Year". Joiner set an NFL record with his 650th pass reception in the fourth quarter of the game at Pittsburgh. In offensive guard Ed White set an NFL record by playing in 241 NFL games. , a 5'6", 171 pound running back, set an NFL record of 2,535 all-purpose yards and of 1,027 receiving yards by a running back.


Changing head coaches (1986–1993)

During the
1986 San Diego Chargers season The San Diego Chargers List of San Diego Chargers seasons, season was the franchise's 17th season in the National Football League (NFL), and its 27th overall. the team failed to improve on their 8–8 record from 1985 NFL season, 1985. Followin ...
, following the resignation of Coryell,
Al Saunders Alan Keith Saunders (born February 1, 1947) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a ...
was named head coach. In 1987, Joiner retired to become the Chargers' receivers' coach. The team finished the season 8–7, including a 3–0 record by the "replacement" team during the player's strike. The only other team to go undefeated during that time was the Super Bowl Champion Washington Redskins. In Fouts retired after a 15-year career. He set seven NFL records and 42 club records, and became the NFL's second most prolific passer of all time with 43,040 yards. Fouts's jersey, the number 14, was retired at halftime at the "Dan Fouts Day" game in San Diego. In the 1989 season,
Dan Henning Daniel Ernest Henning, (born June 21, 1942) is a former American football player and coach. A quarterback, he played college football at the College of William & Mary and professional football in 1966 for the San Diego Chargers of the American F ...
, a former Chargers'
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
,
Washington Redskins The Washington Football Team is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular ...
assistant, and
Atlanta Falcons The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport ...
head coach, became the Chargers' head coach. A first year running back,
Marion Butts Marion Stevenson Butts, Jr. (born August 1, 1966) is a former professional American football running back who played seven seasons in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots and the Houston Oilers from ...
, set a club record with 39 carries and a team
rookie A rookie is a person new to an occupation, profession, or hobby. In sports, a ''rookie'' is a professional athlete in their first season (or year). In contrast with a veteran A veteran () is a person who has significant experience (and i ...
record of 176 yards in the Chargers' 20 points to 13 win against Kansas City.
Steve Ortmayer Conrad Stephen Ortmayer (February 13, 1944 – March 9, 2021) was an American football player, coach, and executive who served as the general manager of the National Football League's San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams. Early life and playing ...
, the director of football operations for the past three years, left and was replaced by
Bobby Beathard Robert King Beathard Jr. ( ; born January 24, 1937) is an American former American football, football executive who was a general manager in the National Football League (NFL). Over the course of his 38 years in the NFL, his teams competed in seve ...

Bobby Beathard
. The team would post double-digit losses between 1988 and 1991. In the
1992 season Year 199 (Roman numerals, CXCIX) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was sometimes known as year 952 ''Ab urbe condita''. The denomination 199 for this year has been ...
,
Bobby Ross Robert Joseph Ross (born December 23, 1936) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any spo ...

Bobby Ross
became the Chargers' head coach. The quarterback,
Stan Humphries William Stanley Humphries (born April 14, 1965) is a former professional American football quarterback. He played for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. He played high school football at Southwood Hig ...
was obtained in a trade with the
Washington Redskins The Washington Football Team is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular ...
.Chronology 1990-1999
Chargers.com. Accessed July 29, 2007.
The Chargers finished the season 11–5 and won the AFC West title, making their first playoff appearance in a decade. Ross was named AFC Coach of the Year. In the Wild Card Round, the Chargers shut out the
Kansas City Chiefs The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectang ...

Kansas City Chiefs
17–0. Then, they were shut out by the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round, 31–0. In 1993, the Chargers finished 8–8, finishing fourth in the division.


1994–2005


1994: AFC Champions

In the 1994 season, the Chargers won 11–5. Quarterback Stan Humphries and wide receiver Tony Martin, worked together to make a 99-yard touchdown completion. The players contributing to the Chargers' 1994 AFC West Division championship included linebacker, Junior Seau, defensive tackles Reuben Davis and Shawn Lee and defensive end, Leslie O'Neal, and running back Natrone Means, Humphries and Martin who made offensive moves. In the playoffs, the Chargers unexpectedly defeated the Dolphins 22–21 in the divisional round and the Steelers 17–13 in the AFC Championship Game. The Chargers were defeated by the 49ers 49–26 in Super Bowl XXIX. Despite the Super Bowl loss, Beathard, who was responsible for the team lineup and the choice of coach, was named the "NFL's Smartest Man" by
Sports Illustrated ''Sports Illustrated'' (''SI'') is an American sports magazine owned by Authentic Brands Group, and was first published in August 1954. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the National Magazine Award for General ...
. The Chargers'
1995 season 1995 was designated as: * United Nations Year for Tolerance * World Year of Peoples’ Commemoration of the Victims of the Second World War This was the first year that the Internet was entirely privatized, with the United States government ...
was less successful. The team reached the playoffs with a 9–7 record then were defeated by the Indianapolis Colts 35–20.


1996–2001

During the 1996 season, running back
Rodney Culver Rodney Dwayne Culver (December 23, 1969May 11, 1996) was an American football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL) for four seasons. During this time, he played for the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers. Over the ...
was killed in the crash of
ValuJet Flight 592 ValuJet Airlines Flight 592 was a regularly scheduled flight from Miami International Airport Miami International Airport , also known as MIA and historically as Wilcox Field, is the primary airport serving the Miami area, Florida ...
in the
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
Everglades The Everglades is a natural region A natural region (landscape unit) is a basic geographic unit. Usually, it is a region which is distinguished by its common natural features of geography, geology, and climate. From the ecology, ecological ...

Everglades
. Linebacker David Griggs had been killed in a single motor vehicle accident in
Davie, Florida Davie is a town in Broward County, Florida, United States, approximately north of Miami. The town's population was 110,320 at the 2020 United States Census, 2020 census. Davie is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to ...
, eleven months earlier. In the 1997 season, Beathard dismissed Ross.
Kevin Gilbride Kevin Bernard Gilbride (born August 27, 1951) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players o ...
became the Chargers' new head coach. Gilbride encouraged a more open passing attack, a major change in offensive style. Humphries suffered several concussions due to a lack of pass protection and retired. After trades of players and draft choices to the
Arizona Cardinals The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Cardinals compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the National Football Conference (NFC) NFC West, West divisio ...
, Beathard selected quarterback
Ryan Leaf Ryan David Leaf (born May 15, 1976) is a retired American American football, football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for four seasons. He played for the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys between 1998 ...
with his second pick in the
1998 NFL Draft The 1998 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and al ...
. In the 1998 season, the Chargers went 5–11.
Rodney Harrison Rodney Scott Harrison (born December 15, 1972) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven pl ...

Rodney Harrison
said, "If I had to go through another year like that, I'd probably quit playing." When Gilbride left, he was replaced by an interim head coach,
June Jones June Sheldon Jones III (born February 19, 1953) is an American football coach and former player who served as head coach and general manager of the Houston Roughnecks. Jones was the head football coach at the University of Hawaii at Manoa from 1 ...

June Jones
, a member of the Chargers' staff. Jones left the team at the end of the 1998 season to coach at the
University of Hawaii A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanisms which govern the behavior Behavio ...
. The Chargers' new head coach was
Mike Riley Mike Riley may refer to: *Mike Riley (American football) (born 1953), American football coach *Mike Riley (referee) (born 1964), English football referee *Mike Riley (musician) (1904–1984), American trombonist *Mike Riley (curler) (born c. 1946), ...
from the
Oregon State University Oregon State University (OSU) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisation (English in ...
. Due to his poor play and attitude, Leaf was released after the 2000 season.
Jim Harbaugh James Joseph Harbaugh (; born December 23, 1963) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven player ...
, who was acquired in a trade with the
Baltimore Ravens The Baltimore Ravens are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport ...
for a conditional draft choice in 2000, became the Chargers' starting quarterback. Beathard retired in April 2000 and was replaced in January 2001 by John Butler, former general manager of the Bills.Chronology 2000–
Chargers.com. Accessed July 29, 2007.
From to , the Chargers had eight consecutive seasons where they finished with just as many, if not more losses than wins. In
2001 2001 was designated as International Year of Volunteers. Events January * January 1 – Kolkata (in West Bengal, India) officially restores its name from Calcutta. * January 9 – iTunes is launched. * January 10 – The U.S. ...
, Riley chose
Norv Turner Norval Turner (born May 17, 1952) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangul ...
, the former head coach of the Redskins, as his
offensive coordinator An offensive coordinator is a member of the coaching staff of an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes ...
. Turner coached an offense method which he had employed at the
Dallas Cowboys The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport p ...

Dallas Cowboys
. The Chargers signed the former Bills'
quarterback The quarterback (commonly abbreviated "QB"), colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
quarterback
,
Doug Flutie Douglas Richard Flutie (born October 23, 1962) is an American former American football, football quarterback whose professional career spanned 21 seasons. He played 12 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), eight seasons in the Canadian ...
. They also traded the team's first overall selection in the
2001 NFL Draft The 2001 NFL Draft was the 66th annual meeting of National Football League (NFL) franchises to select newly eligible football players. The draft, which is officially referred to as the "NFL Player Selection Meeting," was held at the Theater at Ma ...
to the
Atlanta Falcons The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport ...
in return for the first-round selection (fifth overall) and third-round selection in the same draft. In addition the Chargers obtained the wide receiver-kick returner,
Tim Dwight Timothy John Dwight Jr. (born July 13, 1975) is a former professional American football player who was a wide receiver and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL) for ten seasons. He played college football for the University o ...
, and the Falcons' second-round draft selection in the 2002 NFL Draft. The Chargers used those selections in the 2001 draft to select the
Texas Christian University Texas Christian University (TCU) is a private university, private research university in Fort Worth, Texas. It was established in 1873 by brothers Addison Clark, Addison and Randolph Clark as the Add-Ran Male & Female College. It is affiliated ...
running back
LaDainian Tomlinson LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979) is an American former professional American football, football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 seasons. He is widely considered one of the greatest runn ...
and the
Purdue University Purdue University is a in , and the flagship campus of the . The university was founded in 1869 after businessman donated land and money to establish a college of science, technology, and agriculture in his name. The first classes were hel ...
quarterback
Drew Brees Drew Christopher Brees (; born January 15, 1979) is a former American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes ...

Drew Brees
.


2002–2005: Marty Schottenheimer era

For the 2002 season,
Marty Schottenheimer Martin Edward Schottenheimer (; September 23, 1943 – February 8, 2021) was an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by t ...
replaced Riley. Under Schottenheimer, the Chargers won their first four games. Butler would succumb to cancer after a nine-month struggle in April 2003. Butler was replaced by A. J. Smith, who was named the Executive Vice President and General Manager. In 2003, the Chargers traded Seau to the Dolphins for a draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. Before he left, Seau's teammates awarded him the Emil Karas Award for the team's Most Inspirational Player. Tomlinson accumulated 195 total yards from scrimmage in a late season game against the Packers to raise his season total to 2,011. He became the first Chargers player and the eighth player in NFL history to record consecutive 2,000-yard seasons. Tomlinson also became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in the same season. The Chargers were the host team for the
Super Bowl XXXII Super Bowl XXXII was an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American foo ...
and
Super Bowl XXXVII Super Bowl XXXVII was an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American foo ...
. The 2004 season saw the Chargers win their first divisional title since 1994 with 12–4 record. They quickly were eliminated by the New York Jets in the first round of the playoffs, 20–17 in overtime. During the
2005 NFL Draft The 2005 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and ...
, the Chargers drafted key rookies who would help carry the momentum from the team's 2004 season. The Chargers used their first pick to gain
Shawne Merriman Shawne DeAndre Merriman (born May 25, 1984), nicknamed "Lights Out", is a former American football linebacker. He played college football at Maryland Terrapins football, Maryland and was drafted 12th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 2005 ...

Shawne Merriman
from the University of Maryland. Their next picks included Luis Castillo from Northwestern University, Vincent Jackson from Northern Colorado, Darren Sproles from Kansas State, Wesley Britt from Alabama University, Wes Sims (American football), Wes Sims from Oklahoma University, and the center, Scott Mruczkowski from Bowling Green State. The Chargers lost their first game of the 2005 season to the
Dallas Cowboys The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport p ...

Dallas Cowboys
at home 28–24, and their second game 20–17 in Denver against the Broncos. Through Tomlinson's efforts, the Chargers won their third game, which was a home game against the New York Giants. Tomlinson took 220 yards in total, 3 rushing touchdowns, and threw for a touchdown helping the team to win 45–23. The Chargers then defeated the defending Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots 41–17. At their fifth game, which was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chargers wore their throwback uniforms. The Steelers defeated the Chargers 24–22 after Jeff Reed (football player), Jeff Reed made a 40-yard field goal. The Chargers won the sixth game against the Oakland Raiders, 27–14. In the seventh game, against the Eagles in Philadelphia, the Chargers were leading 17–13 until late in the game. Then, the Chargers' field goal was blocked and returned 65 yards by Matt Ware. This led to the game winning touchdown for the Eagles 20–17. After winning three games and losing four, the Chargers won the following five games. These included an at home game against the
Kansas City Chiefs The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectang ...

Kansas City Chiefs
won 28–20 and an away game against the
New York Jets The New York Jets are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangula ...
31–26. The tenth week was a Bye (sports), bye. Next, the Chargers won at home in their throwback uniforms against the Buffalo Bills, 48–10. Then, the team won against the Washington Redskins, 23–17 in overtime and the next week against the Oakland Raiders at home, 34–10. The Chargers were defeated 23–21 by the Miami Dolphins. On December 18, 2005, the Chargers defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 26–17 who had won their previous 13 games. The Kansas City Chiefs then defeated the Chargers 20–7, and the team was officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Chargers lost their final game of the season 23–7 to the Denver Broncos. The Chargers completed the 2005 season with a 9–7 record.


2006–2012: Rise of Philip Rivers

In the 2006 San Diego Chargers season, 2006 season, the Chargers finished the season 14–2, their best record ever. Their only losses came against the Ravens and Chiefs. The team lost Drew Brees in free agency to the
New Orleans Saints The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectan ...

New Orleans Saints
, setting the stage for 2004 draft pick Philip Rivers to take over at quarterback. They were seeded first in the AFC playoffs. In the divisional round, the Chargers were defeated by the Patriots 24–21. After the season, Schottenheimer left and
Norv Turner Norval Turner (born May 17, 1952) is an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangul ...
became the head coach. In the 2007 San Diego Chargers season, 2007 season, the Chargers went 11–5. In the playoffs, the Chargers defeated the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts. In the AFC championship game, the Chargers were defeated by the Patriots. In the 2008 San Diego Chargers season, 2008 season, the Chargers posted an 8–8 record. Despite that, they won the AFC West title over a weak field. The Chargers defeated the Colts in the wild card round then lost their game against the Steelers in the divisional round. In the 2009 San Diego Chargers season, 2009 season the Chargers first won two games and lost three. For the rest of the season the Chargers won each game, including those against the NFC East teams. Having lost a game against the Broncos, the Chargers defeated them in the eleventh week, 32–3. In the twelfth week, the Chargers defeated the Cleveland Browns 30–23. In this game,
LaDainian Tomlinson LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979) is an American former professional American football, football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 seasons. He is widely considered one of the greatest runn ...
broke Jim Brown's rushing record and was congratulated by him. The Chargers secured another division title and became the AFC second seed. The Chargers then played and lost 17–14 to the Jets at home on January 17, 2010.


2010–2012

Prior to the 2010 San Diego Chargers season, 2010 season Tomlinson departed. He was aging and an expensive contract. The Chargers lost the first game to Kansas City, 21–14. The second game was at home was a win against the Jaguars. However, low ticket sales resulted in a blackout. The third game, an away game, was a 27–20 loss against Seattle. The fourth game was a win for the Chargers against the Cardinals, 41–10 at home. There was blackout during the game. Then in the next game, after many wins against the Raiders, the Chargers were defeated by them. The Chargers won the next four games then again were defeated by the Raiders at home, 28 points to 13. After a game where they tied with the Raiders, the Chargers were defeated by the Bengals 34–20 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Chargers defeated Denver and ended the season with a 9–7 record. The Chargers finished the season as the eighth team in NFL history to rank first in overall offense (395.6 yards/game), and overall defense (271.6 yards/game). Despite these statistics, the team did not make the playoffs, a situation only shared with the 1953 Eagles team. The Chargers ended the season second to the Colts in passing yards per game (282.4), second to the Patriots in points scored per game (27.6), first in passing yards allowed per game (177.8), fourth in rushing yards allowed per game (93.8), and tied for second in sacks (47). In contrast, the Chargers gave up the most punt return yards per game (18.9) and gave 29 turnovers. Rivers had a career highlight of 4,710 yards, 294 yards passing per game, 66 percent completion; 30 TDs, 13 INTs and a 101.8 passer rating. Tolbert made 11 rushing TDs and Gates made 10 receiving TDs. Phillips made 11 sacks. The Chargers started the 2011 San Diego Chargers season, 2011 season 4–1 before losing to the Patriots. They went on to lose to the Jets, Chiefs, Packers, Raiders, the Bears and Broncos. The team was fraught with injuries. On December 5, 2011, the Chargers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars. Three wins followed including a solid defeat of the Ravens. The Chargers were then defeated 38–10 by the Detroit Lions. After a 38–26 win against the Raiders in the seventeenth week, the Chargers finished the season with an 8–8 record. The Chargers, Broncos and Raiders all finished 8–8, but the Broncos won the AFC West by virtue of tiebreakers. During a game on October 21, 2012, a line judge saw what he thought was a suspicious substance, such as a banned adhesive, on hand towels used by the Charger's players. However, on November 7, the NFL announced that the Chargers did not cheat. Even so, the team was fined $20,000. After the 2012 San Diego Chargers season, 2012 season where the Chargers again failed to reach the playoffs, Smith and Turner were dismissed.


Final Years in San Diego (2013–2016)

On January 9, 2013, the Chargers announced that Tom Telesco, former Vice President of Football Operations for the Indianapolis Colts, would become the Chargers' General manager (American football), general manager. On January 15, 2013, Broncos
offensive coordinator An offensive coordinator is a member of the coaching staff of an American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport A team sport includes ...
, Mike McCoy (American football coach), Mike McCoy, was hired as the Chargers' new head coach and Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator. D. J. Fluker, Manti Te'o, and Keenan Allen were selected in the first three rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft. Under McCoy, the Chargers won two and lost three games. The team then defeated Indianapolis in the Monday Night Football and then Jacksonville. After a bye, the Chargers won four of the next five games. They then won all the remaining regular season games. The team finished 9–7, and made the playoffs as a Wild Card team. On the 50th anniversary of the 1963 AFL Championship, the Chargers beat Cincinnati 27–10. In the wild card playoff, Denver defeated the Chargers 24–17. On January 13, 2014, Ken Whisenhunt left the team to join the Titans. On January 14, 2014, the Chargers announced Frank Reich, the quarterback coach, would replace Whisenhunt as the team's offensive coordinator. The Chargers also brought back Donald Butler, Chad Rinehart, and Darrell Stuckey; dismissed Derek Cox; and engaged the running back Donald Brown (running back), Donald Brown. The Chargers selected Jason Verrett, Jeremiah Attaochu, and Chris Watt in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. In September and October 2014, the Chargers won five games after losing their first game of the season and then lost a further three games. Some players sustained injuries and the team finished the season with nine wins and seven losses. The Chargers did not qualify to enter the playoffs. In three of their last four games, and five of their last eight, the Chargers did not score more than one touchdown. Compared to 2013, the offense dropped in points (from 12th in the league to 17th), yards (5th to 18th), first downs (3rd to 15th), net yards per pass (2nd to 8th), rushing yards (13th to 30th) and yards per rush (21st to 31st). It was the second time in three years the team had finished second-to-last in yards per carry. In the AFC West division the Chargers finished the season with two wins and four losses. In the 2015 NFL draft, the Chargers selected Melvin Gordon, Denzel Perryman, and Craig Mager in the first three rounds. The season started off with a win against the Detroit Lions at home. The Chargers lost to the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings in away games before defeating the Cleveland Browns on a last second field goal. Following their 2 wins and two losses, the Chargers lost their next six games to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, the Chicago Bears, and the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers then won against the Jaguars in an away game. In week 15, defeated the Miami Dolphins, 30–14. The Chargers finished the season in last place in the AFC West and third-last ahead of the Titans and the Browns in the American Football Conference with a 4–12 record. The Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa in the third overall pick of the 2016 draft. Other selections included Hunter Henry, Max Tuerk, Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown, Drew Kaser, Derek Watt, and Donavon Clark. The Chargers started their 2016 season in Kansas City, playing against the Chiefs and at half time, held a lead of 21–3. The Chiefs rallied in the second half, defeating the Chargers 33–27. In San Diego, the Chargers defeated the Jaguars 38–14. Running back Danny Woodhead did not play due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury. The Chargers then lost to the Colts, the Saints and the Raiders before winning against the Broncos 21–13 and the Falcons, 33–30. There were further losses including to the Dolphins, 31–24; to Kansas City, 37–27 in San Diego; and to the Browns in week 16.


Return to Los Angeles

The owner of the Chargers, Dean Spanos advocated for many years for the city of San Diego to build a new stadium. With no success, the Chargers, in association with the Raiders, planned to construct a new stadium in Carson, California. Immediately after the conclusion of the season, the Chargers, Rams, and Raiders all filed applications to relocate to Los Angeles. On January 12, 2016, the NFL owners voted 30–2 to allow the Rams to return to Los Angeles, approving their Inglewood stadium project. The Chargers, however, were given an approval to relocate in one year's time, under the condition they negotiate a lease or partnership agreement with the Rams. The Chargers registered the trademark, "Los Angeles Chargers". They submitted to the Santa Ana, California, City of Santa Ana the grading and landscape plans for a five-acre parcel of land which would serve as an interim headquarters and training facility. The Chargers and Rams came to an agreement in principle on sharing the planned SoFi Stadium, City of Champions Stadium to commence on January 29, 2016. The Chargers would contribute a $200 million stadium loan from the NFL and personal seat license fees to the construction costs, and they would pay $1 per year in rent to the Rams. The NFL then encouraged the Chargers to stay in San Diego by offering the team $100 million if they were to enter into an agreement with the city of San Diego. On January 29, 2016, Spanos, the Chargers' chief executive officer, announced that the team would remain in San Diego for the season. The Chargers continued to seek public approval of a new stadium in San Diego. On February 23, 2016, the Chargers announced that their preferred location for a new stadium was the East Village, San Diego, East Village, in Downtown
San Diego San Diego ( , ; ) is a city in the U.S. state of California on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and immediately adjacent to the Mexico–United States border, Mexican border. With a 2020 population of 1,386,932, San Diego is the List of United ...

San Diego
. The funds for the stadium would come from the team, the NFL and the City of San Diego. Even though it was a more economical proposal, the Chargers dismissed the city's alternative plan for a stadium in Mission Valley. Between April 21 and June 10, 2016, the Chargers collected 110,786 signatures in support of a new Downtown stadium. On July 9, 2016, the San Diego city clerk received the signatures and on July 18, 2016, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to put the Downtown Stadium plan to a public ballot. On July 28, 2016, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced its support of the Chargers' Downtown stadium proposal, and on October 3, 2016, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced his support. However, on November 8, 2016, the proposal (Measure C) failed to receive support at public ballot (57 percent against and 43 percent for). In December 2016, the NFL owners approved the terms of a lease agreement between the Chargers and the Rams and the Chargers debt ceiling. On December 23, 2016, the Chargers leased a property of approximately 3 acres in Costa Mesa, California, Costa Mesa for offices, practice fields, and training facilities. On January 12, 2017, Spanos announced the Chargers would move back to Los Angeles for the 2017 season. The team would play in Dignity Health Sports Park (known as the StubHub Center until 2019) in Carson, California, and eventually, be tenants of the Rams at SoFi Stadium. In 2017, when the Chargers moved their practice facility to Orange County, California, Orange County, the Chargers removed all references to the city of San Diego from their website and merchandise. In returning to Los Angeles, the Chargers became the third franchise to relocate to a previous home city (after the Raiders, who left Oakland in and returned in , and the Rams, who left Los Angeles in and returned in ). Additionally, they were the second former San Diego franchise to play in the City of Angels (after the Los Angeles Clippers, Clippers, who relocated in ).


Records


Seasons


Footnotes

* As a result of the AFL–NFL merger, the league was broken into two conferences; the AFL teams moved into the American Football Conference. *This season included the Holy Roller (American football), Holy Roller game. *The Chargers finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on better net points in division games. *The Chargers finished ahead of the Denver Broncos based on better divisional record. *This game is known as
The Epic in Miami The Epic in Miami was the National Football League The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridir ...
. *This game was known as the
Freezer Bowl In National Football League lore, the Freezer Bowl is the nickname given to the 1981 NFL season, 1981 American Football Conference, AFC AFC Championship Game, Championship Game between the 1981 San Diego Chargers season, San Diego Chargers and t ...
. *The 1982 season was National Football League Players Association#1982 strike, shortened by a strike, so the league was divided up into two conferences instead of its normal divisional alignment. *The National Football League Players Association#1987 strike and decertification, strike of 1987 reduced the regular season schedule from 16 to 15 games.


Retired numbers


Chargers members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

(*) Indicates Player or Coach began his tenure in Los Angeles


Chargers Hall of Fame

The San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame was founded in 1976. The members of the Hall of Fame are honored at the Chargers' "Ring of Honor", founded in 2000. Eligible candidates must have been retired for at least four seasons. Selections for admission to the Hall of Fame are made by a five-member committee chaired by Spanos. The Chargers in 2012 allowed fans to vote for the newest member.


50th Anniversary Team

in 2009, the Chargers announced their 50th Anniversary Team. It honored the top players and coaches in the team's history. The team included 53 players and coaches selected from 103 nominees. Online voting accounted for fifty percent (400,000 votes) of the results. The remainder were from members of the Chargers Hall of Fame and five members of the local media.
Dan Fouts Daniel Francis Fouts (born June 10, 1951) is an American former American football, football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons. He led the NFL in passing yards four straight years from 19 ...

Dan Fouts
and
LaDainian Tomlinson LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979) is an American former professional American football, football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 seasons. He is widely considered one of the greatest runn ...
were the most popular players. The resulting team included seven members of the
Pro Football Hall of Fame The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame A hall, wall, or walk of fame is a list of individuals, achievements, or animals, usually chosen by a group of electors, to mark their fame Fame is the quality of being well-known and in the ...
and eleven players from the 2009 San Diego Chargers season, 2009 Chargers' team.


San Diego Hall of Champions

The San Diego Hall of Champions includes Lance Alworth, Ron Mix, John Hadl, Charlie Joiner, Don Coryell, Sid Gillman, Gary Garrison, Dan Fouts, Ed White, Kellen Winslow, Earl Faison, Rolf Benirschke, Keith Lincoln, Russ Washington, Stan Humphries, Ernie Ladd, and Doug Wilkerson. The Hall of Champions admits athletes from the San Diego area as well as those who have played for San Diego-based professional and college football, collegiate teams.


Franchise records


Passing

∗ = minimum 15 attempts, # = min. 100 attempts, + = min. 500 attempts


Rushing

∗ = minimum 15 attempts, # = min. 100 attempts, + = min. 500 attempts


Receiving

∗ = minimum 4 receptions, # = min. 20 receptions, + = min. 200 receptions


Special teams, defense, other

∗ = minimum 20; # = min. 5; + = min. 3


Exceptional Performances


Other career records


Team records


See also

*History of the National Football League in Los Angeles *History of the Los Angeles Chargers


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:History Of The San Diego Chargers San Diego Chargers History of the Los Angeles Chargers, San Diego Chargers American football teams in San Diego