The Los Angeles Chargers are a professional American football team in the National Football League (NFL) based in the Greater Los Angeles Area. The club began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), and spent its first season in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego in 1961. They returned to Los Angeles in 2017. NFL teams assign each of their players a jersey number ranging from 1 through 99. The Chargers no longer issue four retired numbers. As of 2010, the team's policy was to have the Chargers Hall of Fame committee evaluate candidates for a player's number to retire after the player has retired from the league after five years. The committee consisted of Chargers Executive Vice President A. G. Spanos, Chargers public relations director Bill Johnston, San Diego Hall of Champions founder Bob Breitbard, and the presidents of the San Diego Sports Commission and the Chargers Backers Fan Club. There are few recognized guidelines in sports regarding retiring numbers, and the NFL has no specific league policy. "You have to have enough numbers for players to wear," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. The Chargers have rarely retired numbers. The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote, "The [Chargers] tend to honor their heritage haphazardly."
Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Mix in 1969 was the first Charger to have his number retired after he announced he was quitting football. However, he came out of retirement in 1971 to play for the Oakland Raiders. Then-Chargers owner Gene Klein, who hated the Raiders, unretired the number.
Dan Fouts had his No. 14 retired in 1988, a year after his retirement. He was the first NFL quarterback to top the 4,000-yard passing mark in three consecutive seasons. He set a then-NFL single-season passing record in 1981, throwing for a career-high 4,802 yards. At the retirement of his number, Fouts asked for "more recognition of former players and a warmer relationship between Charger players and management. I'd like to see Lance Alworth's number retired, too. We've had some great players here."
Alworth's No. 19 was retired in 2005, 35 years after he last played for the Chargers and 27 years after he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was still one of the most popular athletes in San Diego history. Nicknamed Bambi for his speed and graceful leaping skills, Alworth was a pioneer for the Chargers and the AFL in the 1960s. He was selected All-AFL seven times from 1963-1969 and averaged more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards a year with San Diego. He retired with the most career yards (9,584) in team history, a record that held for almost 45 years.[a]
The Union-Tribune in 2003 wrote that the Chargers no longer retired numbers, but Chargers president Dean Spanos said Junior Seau might be an exception. "If there's going to be another number retired, that's the one that's going to be retired," Spanos said. Seau made 12 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances with San Diego. He initially retired from the NFL in a 2006 ceremony with the Chargers, and the team planned to retire his number--as early as 2011--after his anticipated induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, Seau signed with the New England Patriots four days later, and continued playing until 2009. Seau's No. 55 was retired in 2012 posthumously at his memorial. "His play on the field combined with his leadership and charisma became the face of this team for more than a decade. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this honor," said Spanos.
After LaDainian Tomlinson signed a one-day contract and retired as a Charger in 2012, Dean Spanos said his number would be retired in the future. On November 22, 2015, the Chargers retired Tomlinson's No. 21.
|Player||Name of player honored|
|Career||Years played with Chargers|
|Retired||Year number was retired|
|Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame|
Alworth averaged more than 50 catches and 1,000 yards a year with the Chargers.
"Be sure and put that in the paper," says Bob Wick, who replaced the legendary Sid Brooks as Chargers equipment manager this year