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Pro Bowl guard well-respected

Posted Feb 29, 2012

SAN DIEGO – Guard Kris Dielman, voted one of the 50 greatest players ever to play for the San Diego Chargers, will announce his retirement Thursday at a press conference.

“I love this game. I’ve given it everything I have,” Dielman said. “It’s time for me to focus on my future and my quality of life.

“I want to thank the Spanos family and the Chargers for giving me the opportunity in the NFL. Because they believed in me, I was able to realize a dream and for that I will be forever grateful.”

Dielman was a four-time Pro Bowl lineman and a member of the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was a two-time Associated Press second-team All-Pro and was selected by teammates as the Chargers’ Lineman of the Year three times during his career.

“Kris played the game the way it’s supposed to be played: with heart and passion,” Chargers President Dean Spanos said. “He’s a throwback … an old-school player. All he cares about is his family and playing football and today he’s making family his top priority, as it should be, and I respect him tremendously for that.

“He’s universally respected by the players and coaches around the league, who voted him to the AFC Pro Bowl squad four times. He’s respected by his teammates, who voted him Lineman of the Year three times. And he’s a fan favorite. It was the fans who voted him to the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary Team as one of the franchise’s 50 greatest players.

“Kris has had a career to be proud of and we’re all tremendously proud of him.”

Dielman’s career began in 2003 when he signed with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Indiana. He originally came in as a defensive lineman, but was convinced to move over to the offensive line by the coaching staff. He had played both tight end and defensive tackle in college.

Dielman spent his first two-plus years as a backup at left guard before moving into the starting lineup prior to the Chargers’ third game of the 2005 season. From then until the midpoint of the 2011 season, he started 97 of the next 100 games, missing only three contests due to injury during the next six-plus seasons.

By the end of his first full season as a starter (2006), Dielman’s reputation around the NFL had begun to take shape as he was named a first-alternate to the AFC Pro Bowl squad. A year later (2007), he earned his first Pro Bowl invitation after playing an entire season without allowing a sack. Dielman played in four straight all-star contests following the 2007-10 seasons and was named a starter for the Pro Bowls that followed the 2008 and ’10 seasons.

“To me, Kris epitomizes what an NFL player should be: tough, hard-nosed and always team-first,” General Manager A.J. Smith said. “He’s a winner. We’ve won a lot of football games because we’ve had Kris and the toughness and leadership he brings to our team. I’m grateful for everything he’s given to the Chargers.”

Dielman started the first six games in 2011. Following the Chargers’ Week 6 game versus the New York Jets, he was diagnosed with a concussion sustained in the game. He was inactive for the Chargers’ next three games before being placed on Reserve-Injured Nov. 16.

Dielman helped the Chargers win four AFC West titles from 2006-09 and the Chargers went 66-31 with him in the starting lineup. He helped the Chargers rush for at least 1,700 yards in all but one season since ’05 and he was in the starting lineup for two of the top three single-game rushing performances in team history, including a club-record 289 yards in an AFC West-clinching win over Denver in 2008.

“It has been an honor to play next to Kris for so many years,” center Nick Hardwick said. “His loyalty and toughness gave me and the guys who played with him a sense of security, knowing that we had the baddest guy on the field. And we knew nobody wanted to find out how bad a dude he was.

“He taught us about loyalty, will power and friendship. I will certainly miss being in the huddle standing next to my best friend and personal protector.”

For the last several years, Dielman has worked closely with the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation (MCLEF), an organization that raises money to provide advanced education for the children of Marines and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. His father, Mike, an Army veteran, died when Kris was a 17-year-old high school senior, and he has cousins who served in both the Army and Navy.

Kris and his wife Sandy have two sons: Reid and Blake.

What they said about Kris

Chairman of the Board – President Dean Spanos: “Kris played the game the way it’s supposed to be played: with heart and passion. He’s a throwback … an old-school player. All he cares about is his family and playing football and today he’s making family his top priority, as it should be, and I respect him tremendously for that.

“He’s universally respected by the players and coaches around the league, who voted him to the AFC Pro Bowl squad four times. He’s respected by his teammates, who voted him Lineman of the Year three times. And he’s a fan favorite. It was the fans who voted him to the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary Team as one of the franchise’s 50 greatest players.

“Kris has had a career to be proud of and we’re all tremendously proud of him.”

General Manager A.J. Smith: “To me, Kris epitomizes what an NFL player should be: tough, hard-nosed and always team-first. He’s a winner. We’ve won a lot of football games because we’ve had Kris and the toughness and leadership he brings to our team. I’m grateful for everything he’s given to the Chargers.”

Head Coach Norv Turner: “Kris has been a great player for the Chargers from the moment he was inserted into the lineup. He’s one of the most competitive, physical and dependable players I have ever been around.”

C Nick Hardwick: “It has been an honor to play next to Kris for so many years. His loyalty and toughness gave me and the guys who played with him a sense of security, knowing that we had the baddest guy on the field. And we knew nobody wanted to find out how bad a dude he was.

“He taught us about loyalty, will power and friendship. I will certainly miss being in the huddle standing next to my best friend and personal protector.”

QB Philip Rivers: “As a player, you wish you had 53 Kris Dielmans on your team, just because of how much he cared and how hard he played. We won a bunch of games because of him. He had a lot to do with our success offensively.

“I love the guy and I loved playing with him. I’ll always have great memories of him being right there with me at left guard and us being out there playing together. He meant a great deal to this team when he was here and he was a guy that earned everything he got. I’m not talking financially. He earned the position he got as a Pro Bowl left guard, one of the best guards in professional football. He came here as a free agent defensive lineman and worked and worked and worked to get where he was.

“He loved being a teammate. You always appreciate those kind of guys and he was one of them. As a teammate, you wouldn’t want anybody else. That’s the kind of teammate you want playing in front of you as a quarterback. What a presence he had in that huddle. He’s been described as a nasty player, but to me what stood out was that he played offensive line the way it’s supposed to be played. He played to the whistle and after the whistle and he played as hard as he could. He played the way you’d play in the back yard and that’s the way I’ve always tried to play. He did that at his position.

“He played the way he did because of his love for the game, and that never changed.”

RT Jeromey Clary: “He’s one of the best offensive linemen I’ve ever played with and one of the best I’ve ever watched. It’s been an honor to work with the guy. He’s an extremely talented guy and works hard. It’s amazing to come in on Mondays and you’d watch film and some of the stuff he would do, you’d just go, ‘I can’t believe that this guy is doing this kind of stuff to other NFL football players.’

“He did some stuff that just was unbelievable and we truly enjoyed working with him and I’m really, really happy that he was on our team most of the time, because if I was a D-lineman I wouldn’t want to face him on Sundays and I’m sure a lot of people we played against didn’t really want to have to deal with him either. He was a high-motor guy who was extremely strong and had a lot of talent. There are a lot of things there with that combination that made him a very dangerous football player.”

RB Ryan Mathews: “Coming in as a rookie, he really helped me out a lot. He showed me that he really cared and he really believed in me. He was probably the first guy that I clicked with, one of the first linemen to accept me into the group of guys.

“He’s so tough and he’s so aggressive. He loves to play the game of football. You can just tell he was born to play. Everything he did, he did it to the best of his ability. He made sure that he was doing everything right.

“I’m going to miss him a lot. I have a lot of love for Diel. It’s going to be real tough to replace a guy like that. You don’t find guys like that very often. Me personally, it sucks. It sucks from a professional standpoint of him blocking for me, but as a friend, from that standpoint, with him retiring, I’m really going to miss him a lot.”

Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter: “I think he epitomizes the old-school, self-made player. Just a tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar type guy. And he had all those other things that didn’t take talent like toughness, work ethic and dependability. He was really, really smart and he combined all those things to be the player that he was. He had everything in a player that you could want.

“He was really an easy guy to coach. I’ll miss the attitude that he brought to the meeting room, to practice and to the game. There’s a lot of guys who are tough, but Kris was intimidating. Guys didn’t want to mess with him. He intimidated his opponent and he did it to the point where the guy he was battling didn’t want to deal with him anymore.”

Agent Mike McCartney: “I am extremely proud of Kris Dielman. He’s a man who has overcome much. His hard work, discipline and perseverance propelled him to success despite being undrafted and having to change positions at the highest levels of football. Four Pro Bowl appearances are a testament to that. Having experienced this with one team, the San Diego Chargers, makes his story all the more special, and a great one in the NFL.”

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