NFL History 101

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Take another dive into NFL history, but use proper pressurized air breathing, for we’re plunging into a void…

Know thy enemy…

NFL History – The Chargers

The Chargers actually started in Los Angeles in 1959 as one of the original members of the new AFL. Their owner was Barron Hilton, son of the Hilton Hotel guy Conrad.  If things had gone right, Paris Hilton could be the owner today. Just think how their uniforms would look now!  The name Chargers was chosen because “they were yelling ‘charge’ and sounding the bugle at Dodger and USC games”.  The bugle was probably playing taps.   They could have named them the bugles, but that would be an insult to a decent snack food.  The bugle people were only in L.A. for a season before they moved to San Diego.  They first started playing there at Balboa stadium, with a capacity of 15,000.  With the Chargers moving in they increased that capacity to 34,000.  They probably didn’t have to.   The stadium was demolished in the 1970s due to seismic concerns, although it certainly wasn’t from the roar of the crowd…  Anyways… the Chargers eventually moved to playing at the San Diego Stadium, which was also named Jack Murphy Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, and SDCCU Stadium (San Diego County Credit Union).  Most people just called it empty.   The Chargers joined the NFL with the merger in 1970.

The team had a lot of successful seasons in their first 10 years.  This is why, even 50+ years later, the national media still picks them to win the division and Super Bowl.  During the 1973 season, it was bad enough that they went 2-11-1, but they were also part of the NFL’s first major drug scandal.  While the main problem drugs were steroids and uppers, the owner, Gene Klein, thought it was pot, and he blamed their losses on it.  He was so upset about it that he contacted the commissioner, Pete Rozelle,  for help.  Rozelle suggested that they hire some investigators to document things, and then he’d determine what the league could do.  This investigation involved wire-wearing hookers amongst other things.  While the charges against Robert Kraft didn’t stick, they ended up finding out that the Chargers’ own psychiatrist was writing prescriptions for most of the drugs.  Ironically, they brought the guy in to reduce the drug use!  They did draft Dan Fouts that year, so they did something right…

Don Coryell was hired as head coach in 1978, bringing “air Coryell” to the NFL.  While they had some success, with a record setting offense, they never made it to the Super Bowl and had as many losing seasons as winning ones.  Dan Fouts retired in 1988, and so did their ability to win.  They resided in or near the basement of the division except for 2 seasons where they won it, ’92 and ’94.  After the ’95 season they didn’t have a winning record for 8 years.  They are kind of like a cicada, going to sleep for many years, popping up for a year, and then back to sleep. 

Moving on, other than a couple of pop-up decent seasons, things were kind of blah-blah for a long while.  This changed in the 1998 draft when they traded their 1998 #3 first and second round picks, as well as the next year’s 1st round pick to the Cardinals so they could move up one single spot and select…Ryan Leaf.   This elite quarterback enabled them to go from blah-blah to dumpster fire in a way only the Chargers could.  The next season, after going 5-11, Safety Rodney Harrison said “If I had to go through another season like that, I’d probably quit playing”.  The rest of the team apparently already had.

In 2002, they drafted Drew Brees, but apparently they didn’t think he wasn’t good enough, so in 2004 they drafted Eli Manning.  Apparently he didn’t think the Chargers were good enough, so Manning was traded to the Giants for Phillip Rivers.  Confusing? Think how Rivers felt.   This may explain the look often seen on Phillip Rivers face during his career…

In 2006, they went 14-2 under Marty Shottenheimer.  Apparently in an effort to get higher draft choices they decided to fire Marty.  Their plan almost worked – while new coach Norv Turner didn’t win as much as Marty, they were still having winning records.  Something had to be done, so in 2010 they cut LaDainian Tomlinson.  They still managed to have the league’s number one offense and defense, but successfully failed to make the playoffs.  The Chargers were finding their identity, as they wouldn’t win the division again for the next 10 years and counting.  However, they were still the national media’s choice to win the division every year…

Next comes the Chargers move to Los Angeles.  As with all things Charger, it gets a bit confusing (see Phillip Rivers’ picture)… In 2014 the Chargers said they were moving to LA. Then in December they said they weren’t.  In 2015 the Rams said they were moving to LA.  The Chargers said “me too”.  They claimed the move was to protect the 25% of its fan base that lived there.  Apparently those 20 people didn’t want to commute to San Diego.   Later in 2015 the city of San Diego announced plans for a new stadium.  The Chargers team turned this down, wanting their stadium in the downtown area.  The general belief is that they felt they could increase attendance by drawing in more of the homeless people if they were within walking distance…  Somewhere in the midst of all of this, the Raiders also decided they want to go to LA too.  Probably thinking that the higher traffic would make their victory lap around the stadium take longer, making it seem like they won more games than they did.

Anyways, in 2016 the league tried to sort this all out.  They approved the Rams move to LA and gave the Chargers “conditional approval”…kind of like the “top secret probation” in Animal house.  The Raiders said “what about us?”.  The league said “go away”.  So in a big pout they headed to Las Vegas.

The Chargers were welcomed to LA with open arms – Only the arms were waving “get away”.  The LA Times welcomed them with an article titled: “We don’t want you”, saying the Chargers were the 3rd favorite NFL team in LA – and only 2 teams were there. 

In 2020, in typical Charger fashion, the team doctor decided to puncture starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s lung just before game-time.  Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert was thrust into starting against the Chiefs that game, and actually did a pretty good job.  Since this new QB shows promise, concern about winning reared its ugly head again, so they promptly fired their head coach, Anthony Lynn, and hired the Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.  It is believed he was offered the position because the Chargers could save the cost of a relocation package…

And this brings us up to date.  While they finished last year at 7-9, they will likely be picked by the national media to win the division.  The good news is that no one in LA cares.

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04/06/2021 10:38 pm

The Chargers did have some teams, coaches and players that were great for the league even if their team never did pan out. I always thought the Chargers ownership and fan base was more responsible for that than anything although I never thought Rivers took the game seriously enough. AJ Smith had to be the lowest GM that ever held the title.
The bright spots over the years started with John Hadal and Bambi, Air Coryell with Fouts and those great teams. The Fouts years were great for the game and changed the game for the good. Brees and Tomlinson. Ect. The Chargers never realized their dream but were a blast to watch play in their hayday.

Severely Concussed
Severely Concussed
04/06/2021 1:38 pm

These are a hoot to read.

04/06/2021 12:55 pm

Chargers/Clippers, pretty much the same team. Exercises in futility.

04/06/2021 12:50 pm

Allowing them to share the Rams stadium was a totally idiotic decision by the NFL

04/06/2021 12:48 pm

Double secret probabtion

04/06/2021 11:41 am

Good stuff 🙂

04/06/2021 11:33 am

I’m about as interested in the Chargers as the people in the cities they call ‘home’…which is to say, not very.

Reply to  NM_ChiefsFan
04/06/2021 12:56 pm

Right back at you …….

Reply to  probablyamistake
04/06/2021 2:45 pm


04/06/2021 10:38 am

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04/06/2021 10:28 am

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Still a better charger than the San Angeles football team.

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