<strong>July 14, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://www.chargers.com/news/pr_headline_detail.cfm?press_release_key=512">Chargers.com</a>
In tribute to the accomplishments of legendary wide receiver Lance Alworth, the first American Football League player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and one of the most popular athletes in San Diego history, the San Diego Chargers will formally retire jersey number 19 at a halftime ceremony during the Chargers-Bills game on November 20.
Alworth's famous number 19 joins Dan Fouts' number 14 as the only two retired numbers in the team's 46-year history. Fouts' number was retired in 1988.
"Lance Alworth played a significant role in the initial success of the Chargers and the American Football League," said Dean Spanos, Chargers President & Chief Executive Officer. "His play on the field became a trademark for this team and an entire league. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this honor."
Nicknamed "Bambi" for his spectacular speed and graceful leaping ability, Alworth embodied the old AFL's wide-open attack that is the basis of the modern-day West Coast Offense. Under the tutelage of Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman and teamed many years with quarterback John Hadl, Alworth dominated the AFL through the 1960's creating records that still stand today.
"Lance Alworth, absolutely, was the greatest receiver football has ever had," said Hadl. "If he could have played in the rules they have today, he would have doubled his capacity as far as catches and yardage and touchdown passes. He wanted to catch a football more than anyone in the world. He was one of the best forces to play with. He was absolutely the best, without question."
Alworth began his career with the Chargers as a rookie in 1962 out of University of Arkansas. Known for his leaping grabs and after-the-catch runs, Alworth set 15 pass receiving team records. Today, 13 of these 15 records still stand including most career touchdowns, 81; most consecutive game touchdowns, 9; and most career yards, 9,584. He also was voted the Chargers MVP by his teammates twice and named All-AFL seven times for the 1963-1969 seasons.
Alworth finished his 11-year career recording 542 receptions for 10,266 yards and 87 total touchdowns, averaging an incredible 19 yards per reception. He ranks among the NFL's all-time receivers in seven categories including a NFL record with five career 200-yard games.
"It is a well deserved honor," said Earl Faison, Alworth's teammate for four seasons. "He was a fine athlete and person to play football with. I always rushed to the bench when we were leaving the field to get the best seat to watch our offense perform. I always marveled at the catches Lance would make. He would always make an outstanding play."
"Lance was exceptional among a bunch of special teammates," added Pro Football Hall of Famer Ron Mix. "He never dropped a pass. He had great speed, leaping and running ability. He could and would block. He is simply the best I have ever seen."
Lance Dwight Alworth, Jr. was born August 3, 1940 in Houston, Texas. He won 15 letters in sports at Brookhaven High School in Mississippi and passed up an offer to join the New York Yankees. At Arkansas, he was three times named first-team All-America and played in the Cotton, Sugar, Gator and Hula Bowls.