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Special day for Alworth

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.pe.com/sports/football/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_chargers_20.26a6b81c.html" target="_blnk">The Press-Enterprise</a>

    By Jim Alexander

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/alworth02.jpg" class="left"alt="Lance Alworth" />SAN DIEGO - Lance Alworth, the first Charger to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has seen enough of the current club's games to realize one thing: If the rules limited defensive backs in his day the way they do now, his job wouldn't have been nearly as challenging.

    Of course, he might have wound up with twice the number of receiving yards that he compiled in his 11-year career. As it was, he amassed 10,266 yards and 85 receiving touchdowns and still holds or shares two NFL and 11 team receiving records. Today he will become just the second Charger to have his number retired, at a ceremony at halftime of the game with the Buffalo Bills at Qualcomm Stadium.

    But just think of what could have been.

    In Alworth's era, which lasted from 1962 to 1970 with the Chargers before he finished his career with two seasons in Dallas, the bump-and-run involved as much bumping as running. There was no 5-yard limit on contact past the line of scrimmage, and defensive backs had a lot more leeway.

    "These guys play a different kind of football than we did," Alworth said. "... I wouldn't know what that game was like. I don't think it'd be any fun for me. It might be fun to see the results, but it wouldn't be fun for me to play that way.

    "I like to watch the contact between the ends and the defensive backs. I mean, the defensive backs are getting the bad end of it. The offensive guy knows where he's going. You're running forward, and the poor defensive guy is running backwards and has no idea what's happening. You need to give him a little something, and they've taken everything away from him.

    It's a different game, a different time. But it's still fun to watch."

    The eras met during Wednesday's practice. Earlier in the day, Coach Marty Schottenheimer showed the players a brief film with highlights of Alworth's career. After practice, the fleet flanker who drew the nickname "Bambi" talked to the team briefly and then signed autographs.

    "That was really cool because a lot of the young guys really didn't know who he was," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "As a Charger fan, growing up in San Diego, I knew all about it. But it was cool to watch him, not just as a Hall of Famer but as one of the marquee guys in the San Diego organization. It was really great to have him out here."

    Added running back LaDainian Tomlinson: "It's going to be a special weekend. He's going to get his jersey retired, and we definitely want to make it special for him by letting him enjoy a good game."

    Alworth's No. 19 will hang from the top of Qualcomm Stadium alongside that of Dan Fouts' No. 14, and the Chargers will mark the occasion by wearing their throwback powder blue uniforms against Buffalo, like San Diego one of the charter members of the old American Football League.

    A group of more than 50 Chargers alumni are expected to attend, and the Hall of Fame busts of Alworth and five other former Chargers -- Fouts, Ron Mix, Sid Gilman, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow -- will be displayed at Gate G.

    Alworth led the AFL three times each in receptions, receiving yards and overall touchdowns. He appeared in seven AFL All-Star Games, surpassed 1,000 receiving yards seven times, had 41 games with more than 100 receiving yards and set the club record for receiving yards in a season with 1,602 in 1965 (when he scored a career-high 14 TDs).

    That was at the end of a three-year stretch when the Chargers appeared in the AFL Championship Game three straight times and won the franchise's only league championship (in 1963).

    Alworth, who has become a successful businessman in Del Mar, got emotional when the Chargers announced the retirement of his number last summer.

    "Now that it's finally gotten to me, maybe I'm even more emotional," he said. "It's a little scary, because I don't like to show it that much, but I have a feeling I'm going to.

    "I really had no inkling, and I was kind of shocked. I felt like my time had more or less passed, because it was such a long time ago. Our decade of players hadn't been overlooked, but (it was) just the fact that it had been such a long period of time ... It's really fun to see the guys asking for your autograph. It's been 40 some odd years, a long, long time, and you think everybody's going to forget about you."

    Not a chance now.

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