It has been 50 years since a group of six men, in love with football and desperate to lead their own professional franchise, agreed to start their own league. Thus, the American Football League was born.
And it didn’t take long for Southern California’s team and its lightning bolt emblem to grab the attention of the football world and so appropriately symbolize the spirit of the new franchise.
The original Chargers were a big-play, sudden-strike offensive-minded outfit that took the pro football world by storm. They played the game with abandon; a let-it-fly style that matched the lightning bolts on their uniforms.
The first play in Chargers’ history was a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Paul Lowe that took all of 14 seconds off of the Los Angeles Coliseum clock.
Renowned offensive performers with names like Alworth, Lowe, Lincoln, Hadl, Post, Woods, Fouts, Joiner, Jefferson, Winslow, Muncie, Chandler and Humphries have passed the torch to Tomlinson, Gates, Jackson and Rivers to carry on the tradition today.
It’s that tradition of acrobatic athletes and edge-of-your-seat excitement that the San Diego Chargers will revive and honor throughout their 50th season in 2009, and Charger fans will be involved every step of the way.
“The Chargers are more than a football team to the people of San Diego,” said team President Dean Spanos. “Generations have grown up with this team. The Chargers are an institution; a lifestyle. Nothing else has shown it can unite this community and create great memories the way sports teams like the Chargers have done.
“50 years … that’s a lot of great memories.”
The team’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will focus on the fans’ three main passions: the greatest moments in Chargers history, the countless memories those moments have created, and the men that made them happen.
With so many great moments, plays and games in Chargers history, how could anyone possibly select the single greatest moment? That’s exactly what the fans are going to do. The team developed a list of the 50 greatest moments from which the Chargers Hall of Fame members along with a handful of team historians will reduce the list to the top 20 Greatest Moments. Fan voting will begin August 1 to determine the greatest single moment in team history. Voting will take place at all Brigantine Family of Restaurants locations and online at www.Chargers.com. Each home game will feature video salutes to these memorable moments culminating with an announcement of the single greatest moment at the Chargers-Redskins game on Jan. 3.
The Brigantine Family of Restaurants includes seven Brigantine Seafood Restaurants, three Miguel’s Cocinas, two Zócalos, Miguelito's Sala de Artes y Comer and their newest addition, The Steakhouse at Azul La Jolla.
The Chargers have created memories that span generations, and the team will salute the fans and their favorite Chargers memories in 2009. The fans will have an opportunity to relive and share those personal memories and mementos with other Chargers fans through a special program on www.Chargers.com. The most unique, colorful and poignant memories will be shared on the Chargers’ giant Jumbotron screen at the team’s home games.
The fans also will have a chance to select the 50 All-Time Greatest Chargers from a list of 100 names. In the program presented by Pepsi, the fans’ ballot will count 50% of the poll while a select group that includes the members of the Chargers Hall of Fame will count the other 50% of the vote. Fans will cast their votes at www.Chargers.com beginning August 1.
The 50 All-Time Greatest Chargers will be introduced during the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary Weekend, a three-day extravaganza set to take place Nov. 27-29 and culminating when the Chargers play the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 29. The weekend, presented by Coors Light, will begin with a giant Anniversary Celebration Party on Friday, Nov. 27. The team will also host a private party for the players on Saturday, Nov. 28 before introducing the 50 Greatest Chargers at the game the next day.
The National Football League also is joining in the 50th Anniversary Celebration. In addition to the Chargers’ 50th Anniversary Weekend, the NFL has designated three Chargers games as “Legacy Games” to honor the 50th anniversary of the American Football League. Those games include San Diego’s season opener in Oakland on Monday night, Sept. 14; the Chargers-Broncos game in San Diego on Monday, Oct. 19, and the game in Kansas City on Sunday, Oct. 25.
For those games, the Chargers and their original AFL opponent will wear their chosen Throwback uniform from the ‘60s. The Chargers’ Throwback uniform is identical to the uniform worn by the 1963 AFL Championship team. The games will be played with a special set of commemorative game balls and the end zones and field markings will look as they did in the early days of the upstart AFL. Other anticipated features for the team’s Legacy Game at home include special commemorative uniforms for the Charger Girls, who will dance to the music of the 60s, as well as retro uniforms worn by the game officials.
The Chargers Team Store at Qualcomm Stadium will offer special 50th Anniversary merchandise, including a commemorative 50th Anniversary yearbook and a 90-minute historical DVD to be released in September. This merchandise will also be available at www.Chargers.com.
Chargers.com, the official website of Chargers football, will be the official site for the team’s 50th Anniversary Celebration as well. Through Chargers.com, the team hopes to provide the fans with every conceivable opportunity to enjoy and relive 50 years of Chargers football.
Beginning in September, fans will find a myriad of entertaining and informative looks back at the 50 years of Chargers football. The features will include:
• “This Day in Chargers History,” a daily reminder of the many impactful moments produced by the team
• “Where Are They Now” stories about the men who created those moments
• “Great Battles,” featuring the most memorable games against that week’s opponent
• “The Way it Was,” featuring the players’ recollections of a memorable time
• “I Remember When…” will be the fans’ recollections and fondest memories
• “Remembering the AFL” will take us back to the ‘60s and early days of the Chargers