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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Thu., Jul. 30, 2015 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM PDT
Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM PDT
Dielman’s version of the underdog story
SAN DIEGO – Kris Dielman packed his pickup truck with a Tupperware bin full of clothes and drove to San Diego from Indiana as a long-shot rookie defensive lineman.
Nine years later, he departed Chargers Park one of the most decorated offensive lineman in team history, riding off to retirement with his family in Pacific Beach.
Dielman, a tight end and defensive tackle for the Hoosiers in college, was an afterthought that first training camp in 2003. He felt his chances of making it past training camp with the Chargers hovered around “slim” and figured a concrete labor job was his next option, so he reverted to what he knew how to fight metaphorically and literally.
“Playing football has always been my dream. When the opportunity came about, it was like, either that or concrete, so let’s do it,” Dielman said. “It was a good decision.
“I knew I had to find my spot and fight hard and battle. Thankfully they were patient enough to keep me around.”
San Diego’s coaching staff saw something in Dielman.
“I was in the hall going to the D-line room and Marty (Schottenheimer) grabbed me and took my book and handed me the offensive line book and said, ‘You’re a guard now.’
“I went with it. I didn’t really have much to say. I said, ‘As long as you give me a chance to take enough time to learn how to do it, I’ll be good at it.’ Thankfully they did.”
A young, aggressive lineman with a mean streak, Dielman worked the wedge on kickoff returns and tried to convince the team to deploy him as an oversized red zone tight end.
Dielman spent the next two years learning a new position on the practice squad and as a reserve, emerging as the starting left guard early in 2005. He replaced an injured Toniu Fonoti in the fourth quarter against Denver on Sept. 18.
“I was able to get in the game and I was ready to go,” Dielman said. “I had watched enough.”
He started 14 games that season and relinquished his spot in the starting lineup just three times in the next 100 games after that contest.
“It was an honor to stay here for this long,” Dielman said. “Nine years? I wasn’t supposed to make it through the first training camp.
“I wouldn’t see myself anywhere else but Pacific Beach. We live in a beautiful city, so I’m just going to enjoy it. There’s a lot of things I can do now that I’ve never been able to do. I’ve got no plans for anything right now. Just enjoy this transition and enjoy my family.”