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Fouts, Tomlinson top vote-getters for All-Time Greatest Chargers
Future NFL Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts were the leading vote-getters among the 53 players and coaches selected as the Greatest Chargers of all time during the team’s 50th Anniversary Season. More than 400,000 votes were cast online during the popular fan campaign, presented by Pepsi and AT&T.
The Greatest Chargers, who will be officially introduced on Nov. 27 at the Chargers 50th Anniversary Block Party in Downtown San Diego, include seven Pro Football Hall of Fame members, four NFL Man of the Year winners and 11 current players. The giant Block Party is part of a three-day Celebration Weekend, presented by Coors Light, set to take place Nov. 27-29, culminating when the all-time greats are introduced on the field at Qualcomm Stadium prior to the Chargers-Chiefs game on Sunday, Nov. 29.
“This is an amazing list of athletes and coaches,” said Chargers President Dean Spanos. “These names bring back so many great memories for me. It really makes you appreciate the rich history and tradition of this team and organization.”
Tomlinson, the NFL’s 12th all-time leading rusher with 12,145 yards, currently holds or shares a total of 28 team records. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first eight NFL seasons, one of only three players in NFL history to do so. Tomlinson has earned multiple honors throughout his career, including NFL MVP, NFL Player of the Year and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2006.
“It’s a great honor, especially when you think about all of the players that have come through here throughout the 50 year history,” explained Tomlinson. “To be considered to be one of the greatest in the organizations history is a great honor and something you take pride in.”
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Chuck Muncie was known for his smooth, powerful running style. Muncie ran for 1,144 yards and a NFL-high 19 touchdowns in 1981. He rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers’ epic playoff victory in Miami during the 1981 season, and followed that with 94 yards in that season’s AFC title game, known as the Freezer Bowl. He was named an All-NFL selection in 1982 and ranks second in team history for most career rushing touchdowns (43) and most in a season (19).
“For me, it’s one of the biggest honors that I have ever received,” Muncie said. “To just be nominated amongst a group of elite athletes like that is amazing for me and to be actually selected is fantastic. It’s the fact that the combination of my whole career and everything that I’ve tried to accomplish is starting to be recognized, and when you get a chance to be in a group like that, it’s amazing.”
Quentin Jammer is the current veteran leader of the Chargers’ secondary. In 2008, he broke up 19 passes and had three forced fumbles. The Chargers' top selection and the No.5 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Jammer has become one the league's premier shutdown cornerbacks. He's the epitome of consistency at the cornerback position and ranks among the team's best tacklers and pass defenders year after year.
“It’s great to be recognized as one of the greatest players in Chargers history,” Jammer said. “There have been a lot of great players who have come through here and just to be mentioned with that group really makes me proud and happy to be recognized.”
Gill Byrd, currently in his fourth season as a coach for the Chicago Bears, compiled a standout 10-year NFL career with the Chargers. Byrd is the team’s all-time leader in interceptions (42) and interception return yards (546). He led all NFL cornerbacks in interceptions for three consecutive seasons (1989-91) and paced the Chargers in four straight years (1988-91).
“Being selected as one of the greatest Chargers in team history is an honor, it really is,” Byrd said. “In a nutshell, it means that a lot of the sacrifice, hard work, time and commitment that I put into being one of the best has paid off and I am just appreciative that I was chosen as one of the top Chargers of all time. I am honored and humbled.”
These Greatest Chargers will be honored during pre-game festivities on Nov. 29 when the Chargers take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. All fans in attendance will receive a commemorative 50th Anniversary wrist band, compliments of AT& T.
The Chargers 50th Anniversary Block Party is set for Friday, Nov. 27 from 5-11 pm in the Gaslamp Quarter. The largest tailgate party of the year will take place on Fifth Avenue in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, between Island and J Streets. The team and the San Diego Hall of Champions have partnered on the event that will celebrate 50 years of Chargers football with live entertainment on two stages, interactive games, celebrity and player appearances and much more. Tickets to celebrate 50 years of Chargers football are just $35 and are available through www.Chargers.com as well as at the Chargers Ticket Office at Qualcomm Stadium and the San Diego Hall of Champions. Additional information is available at www.Chargers.com.
Here is a position-by-position look at the players and coaches selected by vote of the fans as well as the current members of the team’s Hall of Fame:
Billy Ray Smith