The Greatest Chargers Of All Time: Wide Receivers

Continuing in our journey to name the 50 Greatest Chargers Ever, we look at the wide receiver position. Helped by the high-powered offenses installed by Sid Gilman and Don Coryell, Chargers wide receivers have long been considered some of the best ever. It is interesting to note that no current Chargers player made the Greatest Chargers wide receivers list, one of only two categories to have that distinction.

Leading the list is former AFL superstar Lance Alworth, widely considered to be the best player in AFL history. "Bambi" had a rare combination of athletic ability and grace, leading to a stellar career and his eventual Hall of Fame induction in 1978 (the first AFL player inducted into the Hall Of Fame). He is #1 in team history with 9584 yards receiving, and he also holds team records for receiving yards in a season, and average yards per catch (season and career), career receiving TD's, and most consecutive games with a catch.

Other wide receivers nominated as Greatest Chargers Ever include:


Wes gained 6132 yards receiving as a Charger between 1981-1987, while scoring 41 TD's over that timeframe. Wes was the replacement for John Jefferson, after JJ was traded to Green Bay following an ill-advised hold-out. His 129-yards per game in 1982 is still an NFL record.


Nicknamed The Ghost, I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about Gary Garrison. If you can believe Wikipedia, he holds the SDSU record for TD receptions with 26, and played for the Bolts from 1966-1976, gaining 7533 yards and scoring 58 TD's. Gary had some good years for the Chargers following their AFL Championship era, but I'm afraid that he may lose out in fan voting based in a lack of name recognition alone.


JJ spent 3 spectacular years with the Chargers, becoming the first player to gain 1000+ yards receiving in each of his first three years in the league. He easily could have been the Greatest Charger Ever...had he not decided to hold-out before the 1981 season. The hold-out got his talented hands and inflated ego kicked off the team, and he never had another 1000+ yard season in his career.


Joiner played 11-years for the Chargers, gaining 9203 yards receiving and scoring 47 TD's for the team. Joiner was extremely reliable and built a special bond with QB Dan Fouts throughout the Air-Coryell years. He made the Pro Bowl 4-times, and has the distinction of being the last AFL player to retire from Pro-Football. At the time of his retirement, Joiner was the NFL career leader with 750 receptions. Bill Walsh called Joiner "the most intelligent, the smartest, the most calculating receiver the game has ever known."


Martin was a Charger from 1994 to 1997, teaming with QB Stan Humphries to average over 1000-yards per year as a Bolt, by far the best 4-year period of his career. Most memorably, Martin was on the receiving end of the longest reception in team history, a 99-yard catch and dash to the end-zone in 1994. He also scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XXIX.


Anthony Miller was a great wide receiver on some bad Chargers teams, leaving before the team's 1994 Super Bowl season. As a Charger he gained 5582 yards receiving and scored 37 TD's. As the team's only serious receiving threat for most of his career, he averaged 930 yards per year with the Bolts.


Norton was one of the stars of the early Sid Gillman Chargers' teams until the arrival of Lance Alworth. He played from 1960-1966, gaining 3486 yards receiving and scoring 27 TD's. In 1961 and 1962 Norton was an AFL All-Star.

Charger fans, you get to pick five receivers from this list- far too many in my opinion. The problem that most fans will have is deciding between a few names who don't immediately come to mind when you think about the Greatest Chargers Ever. Hopefully this will help you give guys like Garrison and Norton their due.

August 20, 2009

Join our team:


Anonymous said... Aug 21, 2009, 1:52:00 PM

I like Charlie Joiner--a clutch receiver who never complained. I've been a fan since the LA Chargers were born. Go Bolts--maybe this year is our year.

Mike--Columbus, Ohio

Anonymous said... Aug 21, 2009, 7:42:00 PM

Chargers dream team is Fouts, Wes, JJ, Kellen, Joiner, and LT.

Anonymous said... Aug 23, 2009, 5:38:00 PM

Lance Alworth?

Rob Zepeda said... Aug 23, 2009, 5:59:00 PM

Alworth is the first guy mentioned :)

Papa Joe said... Aug 23, 2009, 10:58:00 PM

Most memorable Alworth play for me was actually on defense against the Jets in the old Balboa Stadium. (Namath was a rookie that year.) Lance ran down an interception and saved a TD. He looked so small and fragile in person. But he was tough as nails and never gave up on a play.

Gary Garrison was to Alworth what Joiner was to JJ, steady, reliable and unspectacular. I miss those mid 60s Chargers.

But JJ was the best I ever saw. His stoopid ego just got in the way...

Anonymous said... Aug 24, 2009, 1:31:00 PM

Getting Chandler after JJ was banished to GB was an amazing rebound - he was unreal and also he was an excellent punt returner. But I often wondered what SD would have been like with JJ - he was electric. Perhaps no better, as their inferior D brought them down.

Anonymous said... Aug 25, 2009, 12:30:00 PM

Losing JJ was a heartbreak, but the offense was still loaded. Losing Fred Dean that same year was like taking away Merriman from the defense. They couldn't get off the field. It was painful watching him wreak havoc for the Niners as they went on to win their first SB.

Anonymous said... Aug 26, 2009, 10:22:00 PM

I worked with Dan Fouts in his post-NFL days (ABC sports). One day during a production meeting, we were all just sititng around...eating sandwhiches, etc. We started talking about Dan's Charger days. Usually Dan doesn't like to talk much about his career/team/teammates--because he's a pretty private person/a loner. But on this day...when someone asked him who HE thought was the best-ever WR? His reply:

Wes Chandler

He said JJ had pure raw talent...Joiner the dedication and smarts...but he said Wes as just a special player.

Jackson said... Sep 9, 2009, 9:21:00 PM

LT??? When are charger fans gonna get over this overrated quitter! If you breathe on him he'll fall to the ground. Chuck Muncie would own him, little train james would've schooled him. Thanks to LT and the stupid charger fans we gave up probably the best back in the league right now in Michael Turner, we would be unstoppable in '09/10 this season with turner. Thanks LT can't wait to see you quit in the playoffs like every other year!!!!!

Charger Fan said... Dec 4, 2009, 10:43:00 AM

Chargers have had some great receivers. Lance Alworth along with Paul Warfield of the Dolphins were the best deep threat receivers of all time. Randy Moss is challenging them, but I honestly don't think he could have played and survived in the '60s and '70s, he would have been killed.

Charlie Joiner is another one of my favorite Chargers. You asked about Gary Garrison, he was a solid receiver, reminds me of Bob Chandler if you want to compare him to another famous wide receiver.

Anonymous said... Aug 3, 2010, 7:59:00 PM

wes, alworth, jj......not just the top three chargers but all in the top ten of all time along with rice,carter,brown,warfield,lofton,sharpe and largentswannstallworthbiletikoffmonkhutson

Richard1vaux said... Nov 18, 2010, 1:37:00 AM

if garyy garrison could have played with dan fouts on air coryell ie would have been amazing
he was a truly gifted receiver in college and the pros check his stats huge ave per catch

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