The Greatest Chargers Of All Time: Quarterbacks

In case you haven't noticed, this year the NFL is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AFL. As one of those original AFL teams, the Chargers are celebrating their own 50-year history by inviting fans to vote for the 50 Greatest Chargers and the 20 Greatest Charger Moments. What better time than now to break down the candidates for Greatest Chargers?

At the position of quarterback, I think there is at least one obvious choice: Dan Fouts, the one and only MFIC*. The director of "Air Coryell" and the unquestioned leader of the team during his time with the Chargers, he ended his career with over 40,000 yards passing and 254 passing touchdowns, leading to his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1993. It's tough to argue against a Hall of Fame QB.

Other quarterbacks nominated by the team for Greatest Chargers include:


Played 11 season for the AFL Chargers, throwing for over 33,000 yards in his career with almost 27,000 coming as a Charger. He was a 4-time AFL All-Star who led the league in passing yards 3-times and in passing TD's twice as a Charger.


The 6-year starter for the Chargers took the team to their lone Super Bowl appearance. He threw for just over 16,000 yards with the Chargers while earning a reputation for his strong arm and gutty performances. Stan "The Man" was quarterback during some of the biggest wins in Chargers history in the 1994 playoffs.


A Charger from 1960-1962, he led the team to consecutive Western Division Championships before injuring his finger. Apparently in an effort to open a roster spot while his finger healed, Kemp was placed on waivers, allowing the Buffalo Bills to snatch him out from under the Chargers. Kemp later led the Bills to consecutive AFL championships in 1964 and 1965 against our own Chargers. I love Kemp, but I can't imagine voting for him as one of the Greatest Chargers for that reason alone.


Is there a Chargers fan alive who doesn't like Philip Rivers? In just his 3rd season as a starter he set team records for passing touchdowns (34) and passer rating (105.5). But as is usually the case, the stats don't tell the whole story. My favorite Rivers moment that really defined his toughness and determination involves a cold AFC Championship game against the presumed Super Bowl champs (not), where Rivers played the game on a torn ACL...if you are a regular reader of BOLTHYPE, I imagine you remember the moment well. Still, can you vote a 3-year starter as one of the Greatest Chargers?


Great quarterback and MVP of the AFL in 1963 when the he led the Chargers to an AFL Championship win over the Boston Patriots. He played two season for the Chargers, replacing Hadl in the 1963-1964 seasons. But again, with only two seasons on the team is he really one of the greatest?

In my book this is a race between four quarterbacks for three spots, but all of the names listed here do stand out in Chargers history (especially when you compare them to names like Whelihan, Tolliver, Friesz, Malone...and Leaf). But don't forget guys like Drew Brees and Doug Flutie, who were fan favorites to some extent and will always hold a place in the history of the Chargers and in jersey collections of the fans (I swear, I have seen both a Brees and Flutie jersey in just the last week).

Feel free to chime in with you thoughts and opinions!

Next up, the Greatest Chargers Wide Receivers.

*Mo-Fo In Charge. If you still need help figuring that out...well, this just isn't that kind of site.

August 11, 2009

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Wildcat21 said... Aug 12, 2009, 9:06:00 AM

Stan the Man was awesome. Ahh, those were the years! Natrone Means, Junior, Rodney, Stan...good times!

Anonymous said... Aug 12, 2009, 3:29:00 PM

My vote would be for Fouts. If we only had a defense back then...

Anonymous said... Aug 12, 2009, 3:32:00 PM

Don't forget Johnny Unitas... It was only one year and he didn't build up any stats. But he is arguably one of the greatest QB's of all time.

Having said that.... for a QB who was a charger his whole term in the NFL, it has to be Fouts.

Anonymous said... Aug 13, 2009, 3:50:00 AM

I can't help it, I'll forego the obvious and pick a "sleeper" candidate who only played here only sparingly (like Unitas), but his contributions almost supercede the game of football itself:
I'm referring to the ground-breaking (and often overlooked) work of QB JAMES "SHACK" HARRIS. He came out of Grambling (under Eddie Robinson) and was the first black QB to start an NFL season, and only the 2nd to start a GAME in the so-called "modern era" (see Briscoe). When Harris was let go from the Rams to come to the Chargers for a 4-year stay, his 55.4% pass completion percentage there was the highest of any Ram QB in that franchises history and an integral part of 4 championships there.

Anonymous said... Aug 13, 2009, 6:28:00 AM

1. Fouts (what would he have done if the Chargers had a decent Owner and GM?!)
2. Rivers (he may overtake Fouts, but not today)
3. Humphries (underrated by most)
4. Hadl (low % passes completed)
5. Kemp (close to Hadl)
6. Rote (only Charger QB with a league Championship)
7. Flutie (he brought respectability back to the Chargers)

Jeff Williams said... Aug 13, 2009, 7:19:00 AM

James Harris- groundbreaking QB with the Rams, but was never the same QB after the trade to the Bolts. More in the Unitas mold, where his none-Chargers play was the most significant aspect of their career.

Humphreys or Hadl seems to be the decision I'm having the most difficulty with.

Anonymous said... Aug 17, 2009, 6:10:00 PM

Fouts is by far the greatest... Rivers can (and will) top his stats and bring us our first SB win. Stan "the man" was an average QB with an above average determination and will to win!!! Sometimes it takes more "bawls" than Bowls to get it done.

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