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Tackle this question: Who is the greatest Chargers player ever?

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Is it Tomlinson? Alworth? Fouts? Or someone else? Union-Tribune columnists Nick Canepa and Tim Sullivan debate the question

    NICK CANEPA: As a rule, when I sit down to read my Tim Sullivan, I need a dictionary, thesaurus and Google access nearby. But the other day, although you were terribly wrong, you made a point a Dickens street urchin could understand. You wrote, quite clearly, that “LaDainian Tomlinson is the greatest player the Chargers have ever employed.” Never mind that, for a brief spell, Johnny Unitas was on their payroll (and I know how you feel about Johnny U). But he was long past his prime when he stopped here on the way to retirement. The greatest Charger of them all was Lance Alworth and will remain Lance Alworth, probably long after LT retires or moves on to play for Detroit, or wherever he may go.

    TIM SULLIVAN: My memories of Lance Alworth's playing career are limited to black-and-white television images, yet they remain vivid 40 years after his competitive peak with the Chargers. He was, undoubtedly, a spectacular player, as well as my personal favorite from the old American Football League. No player of that era could match his speed and leaping ability. None of his contemporaries exceeded his ability to make the extraordinary catch or his reliability on routine receptions. Praising LaDainian Tomlinson does not diminish anything Alworth did, no more than praising Jerry West diminishes Elgin Baylor.

    Still, if we're going to define greatness in terms of peak performance, “Bambi” never had a year to match Tomlinson's 2006. If we're going to define greatness in terms of a body of work – you know, the way you're always pushing Paul Newman over Spencer Tracy – LT wins there, too. Alworth scored 83 touchdowns for the Chargers in nine seasons and gained 9,721 yards from scrimmage. Tomlinson has scored 141 touchdowns in eight years, thrown seven touchdown passes and accounted for 15,561 scrimmage yards.

    Obviously, they don't play the same position, but both were paid to move the ball toward the goal line. You don't need a dictionary, a thesaurus or Google to know who made more impact. That is, of course, assuming you know how to count.

    NICK: I can count to zero, which is how many clues you have on this one (I notice you didn't mention Unitas). I never will even try to diminish LT's accomplishments. He's been a magnificent player, a Hall of Fame player. I look at those two lummoxes on the Giants running for all those yards through those immense holes and wonder what LT would do. I would have loved to have seen him replace Emmitt Smith behind those great Dallas lines. But Alworth wasn't just the Chargers' face, he was the face of the AFL. I truly believe, given the time and the rules he played under – receivers were mauled all the way down the field then – he's the greatest of all receivers. Better than Jerry Rice. Better than Don Hutson. Better than Vincent Jackson.

    TIM: That might depend on Jackson's blood-alcohol level.

    NICK: Remember, I can't count.

    TIM: Not to split hairs – I have too few of them left to be wasting any – but the Johnny Unitas the Chargers employed was like the Willie Mays who played for the New York Mets. His greatness was attained at a previous stop, and it did not travel. He has no place in this conversation. It seems to me that the only other Chargers who belong in this debate would be Dan Fouts, Ron Mix, Junior Seau, Kellen Winslow and, just to humor him, Hank Bauer.

    That said, your account of the difficulties Alworth faced places primary emphasis on rules that benefited later generations while neglecting the context in which he himself competed. Though defensive backs may have had more latitude in the 1960s, they didn't always have the legs to stick with speedy receivers or the schematic sophistication to consistently prevent the deep pass.

    In the 10 years of the AFL, various receivers averaged at least 20 yards per catch 27 times. In the last 10 years in the NFL, it's happened only five times. The AFL, at its peak, had 10 teams. The NFL now has 32 teams. So it's hard to prove that it was more difficult to get downfield back then than it is now, even if that's the way you want to remember it.

    Granted, Lance Alworth would have been a terrific player in any era. But the game is more difficult today than it was then. Players are bigger, stronger and faster. Coaching is more advanced. LaDainian Tomlinson stands out against better competition.

    NICK: I think it would have been easier for Alworth today. Not being able to touch Alworth after 5 yards? Are you joking? I know LT would have been a great back in any era, but I can't worry much about stats. I'd take Gale Sayers over LT, and Sayers doesn't have anything close to those numbers.

    I'll argue right now that Winslow was just as great as LT. The game never had seen anything like him and I'm not so sure it has since. And being that we're getting into former Chargers, although he was a comet and had so many problems, Chuck Muncie had more physical ability than LT. He may have been the greatest athlete I've been around. Steve Ortmayer, who came here to be GM from Oakland, once told me the Raiders (meaning Al Davis) thought Muncie was the best football player who ever lived. I don't know if LT could have beaten out Chuck in 1981. Seriously. It would have been a battle. A remarkable talent. If Chuck had LT's work ethic? Mamma mia.

    As for Bauer, along with another Charger, Walter Francis Sweeney, he was the best special teams player I've seen. Fifty-four tackles in a season? Not enough people know that. But then, the game's changed. Don't they still play football, Timothy?

    TIM: If we're going to talk about raw talent, you might want to mention John Jefferson along with Muncie. But the question here is greatness, and that's more a function of production than potential. Muncie spent the better part of five years with the Chargers and produced one 1,000-yard season. LT, so far, is eight for eight.

    Just to be clear, I've never said Tomlinson was the most gifted running back who ever lived. That debate would likely come down to Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, O.J. Simpson and Barry Sanders. But there are multiple paths to greatness, as Shakespeare explained in “Twelfth Night”: “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

    Chuck Muncie was born to greatness and squandered it. LaDainian Tomlinson was born to greatness and made himself greater. The only running back with more touchdowns was Emmitt Smith. And Smith was not nearly the receiver Tomlinson has been.

    Tomlinson is not the receiver Lance Alworth was, of course, but guess which guy has caught more passes for the Chargers.

    NICK: Somehow I knew we wouldn't get through this without you bringing in The Bard. What position did he play? Would he sell one of his plays today? Anyway, arguing with you is nothing if not stimulating. I'm used to arguing football with my sons, who know less about Chargers history than you do.

    Knowing where you come from, you probably think Ickey Woods is the greatest Bengal of them all.

    TIM: The Bard never goes out of style or out of print. The greatest Bengal of them all was Anthony Muñoz. Not that it's a long list.

    NICK: You finally got something right. Muñoz. Best offensive lineman ever. Couldn't catch a deep ball, though.

    You can vote here if you want http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stor...pa-sullivan-greatest-charger-player/?chargers
     
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  2. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    Not a mention of Fouts.... sad.
     
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  3. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    I'll go with Alworth, he put the face on the AFL for excitement.
     
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  4. turbo_turtle

    turbo_turtle In Disguise

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    Alworth

    Football

    League

    Enough said.

    He Lance Alworth put San Diego Football on the map.

    That is my opinion.
     
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  5. SDRaiderH8er

    SDRaiderH8er Well-Known Member

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    Alworth - for us "OLD TIMERS"

    Fouts - for the Middle Aged


    LT - for all you youngsters

    and there is a lot more youngsters than old timers so we are going to lose this vote I see.
     
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  6. nickelbolt

    nickelbolt Fuggedaboutit

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    Philip Rivers :icon_eek:
     
  7. Boltdiehard

    Boltdiehard Well-Known Member

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    :abq1::abq2:
     
  8. nickelbolt

    nickelbolt Fuggedaboutit

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    You watch. Your boy is going down as the greatest ever. Fouts is gonna be pissed. :lol:
     
  9. Boltdiehard

    Boltdiehard Well-Known Member

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    I love the guy- there's no quit in him.

    As for the topic my personal top three would have to be:

    1. Fouts
    2. Seau
    3. LT
     
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  10. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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  11. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    Lance Alworth 13% 123 votes
    Dan Fouts 24% 223 votes
    Ron Mix 0% 6 votes
    Junior Seau 7% 64 votes
    LaDainian Tomlinson 51% 470 votes
    Kellen Winslow 2% 25 votes
    911 total votes
     
  12. nickelbolt

    nickelbolt Fuggedaboutit

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    Currently... Yeah. I'd have to go in that order too.

    Although, Fouts & Seau are 1a & 1b, respectively.
     
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  13. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    ME :flag: :bolt: :icon_party:
     
  14. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    Hey T. Where you been lately?
     
  15. Thumper

    Thumper WHS

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    Seau in the top three? Are you on crack?

    THUMPER'S TOP 3

    1) LT
    2) Alworth
    3) Fouts

    As the best Charger ever, Seau lands around 7th or 8th best.
     
  16. Boltdiehard

    Boltdiehard Well-Known Member

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    Seau gave me some great memories on some of our worst teams.

    I love the guy. :bolt:
     
  17. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    I was happy the day Seau was cut loose, I never liked the guy.
     
  18. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    No mention of Humphries?

    He may not be HOF material but he's the only QB that's led us to the Super Bowl so far.
     
  19. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

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    1. LT - Charger fans are witnesses to history.
    2. Winslow - Without him there would be no Antonio Gates - he changed the way the game was played.
    3. Fouts / Seau - I can't pick one over the other. MFIC on Offense, Say-Ow on Defense.

    I'll always have a special place in my heart for Stan Humphries - his career was ended too soon by cheapshots.
     
  20. Kwak

    Kwak ....

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    Didn't get to see Alworth paly, but from the old footage I have seen, the guy was amazing.

    For me:

    1a)LT
    1b)Alworth (he was on another level then the competition)
    3)Fouts
     
  21. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    All time

    1. LT
    2. Alworth
    3. Fouts
    4. Winslow
    5. Seau
    6.Charlie Joiner
    7.Wes Chandler

    Now

    1. LT
    2. Gates
    3. Merriman
    4. Williams
    5. Rivers
     
  22. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    1. Alworth
    2. LT
    3. Fouts
    4. Winslow
    5. John Jefferson
     
  23. Kwak

    Kwak ....

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    I was thinking about him. One of my all time favs, but he was here for a short time. Like Alworth, he was on another planet, butt never reached his full potential. What could have been if Klein wasn't a moron paying more attention to his horses then the team.
     
  24. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    JJ got that towel waving thing going in San Diego. Fans went nuts when he did it.

    I have the photos up from the underground playoff party we attended in San Diego for the Steelers game.... :icon_toast:

    http://profootballxxx.com/index.php/topic,236.0.html
     
  25. Kwak

    Kwak ....

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    Cool pics! I miss living in SD...
     
  26. TheBeast

    TheBeast BoltTalker

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    In my opinion:

    1.Kellen Winslow
    2.LT
    3.Alworth

    Winslow is the best TE ever, especially with his warrior like mentally.
     
  27. TheBeast

    TheBeast BoltTalker

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    Although I must say I loved watching Chuck Muncie and Fred Dean.
     
  28. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    I hate Winslow!!!

    I loved him as a player but I can't stand him as a person. He's always bees a dick head!! At the Browns game two seasons ago, he refused to have his picture taken with a marine. WTF!!!

    Then there is his son... Well a**holes breed a**holes!!!
     
  29. LV Bolt Fan

    LV Bolt Fan Well-Known Member

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    Dan Fouts is the greatest Charger of all-time. End of Story! :bow:
     
  30. Gridreaper

    Gridreaper BoltTalker

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    ...Well said HEXEDBOLT! Just so incredibly graceful and scary fast. I loved watching him burn defenses long, over and over. That was one quick white boy:yes::yes:
     

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