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Malcom Floyd: A Charger Unlike Any Other

Look through the best moments of Malcom Floyd's 12 year career with the Chargers.

Every single player should strive to emulate Malcom Floyd on the field.

Every single person should strive to be like him off of it.

One of the greatest wide receivers in Chargers history, and one of the best human beings the league has ever seen, Floyd's NFL career has come to an end as he announced before the season that 2015 would be his final year.

He hangs up his cleats with 321 career catches for 5,550 yards and 34 touchdowns over 121 games.  His 17.3 yards per catch are the fourth highest in team history (minimum 250 receptions) and are second most in the NFL since he arrived in 2004.  Overall, he ranks eighth in franchise history in receiving yards, 10th in TD catches and 10th in total catches.

Even with all of his on field success, Floyd hopes his legacy is a simple one.

"I just want to be known as a good team player who was always there for my teammates," he said.  "That is what the game is all about.  Just being there for your teammates and putting your body on the line for your brothers.  They would do the same for you, so that is what I hope to be remembered for.  That is what I tried to do every day."

Mission accomplished.

One glance at Chargers Park during his final practice was all the proof you'd need.  Every single player and coach wore custom-made shirts emblazoned with one message-  "Thank You #80".

It was a simple gesture that spoke volumes for what Floyd stood for over 12 seasons donning the lightning bolt.  He joined the Chargers as a raw, undrafted free agent out of Wyoming.  Nobody could have imagined the career he went on to post, which is why the Bolts were one of only two teams to offer him a contract.

"I came here because they were the only team that wanted me other than Baltimore.  I thought I might have a chance at success here.  I came out here to try to make plays every day, and I think my size and speed is what helped me make the team."

Another young rookie happened to be flinging him the ball back in 2004 – Philip Rivers.   It didn't take long for the quarterback to be impressed by the wideout with the gangly, lanky frame who went on to join the practice squad to start the year.

"I could tell out here on the practice field all season (he was special) when he would kill it on the look squad," he said.  "He would make unbelievable plays every day out there.  We knew he had something to it. He was a little bit raw from the standpoint of routes, technique and those kinds of things. But we knew he could make the plays that you couldn't really explain. You'd look around and go, 'Man, he keeps doing that!' The first time, it was a little lucky and second time, it was, 'Man, he got lucky again.' Then it became, 'That's just what he does.'"

Fast forward a dozen years later and Rivers is now the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown passes.  His connection with Floyd is a main reason number 17 has attained such a high level of success that dates back to his very first touchdown pass which just so happened to be Floyd's first TD as well. 

The wide receiver was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad late in 2004. In the season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, he ran a slant-and-go and high-pointed a perfectly thrown 13-yard pass in the back left corner of the end zone.

To this day, Floyd considers that his number one NFL moment and keeps the game ball in a special place as a memento.

"That was an awesome feeling," Floyd recalled. "I was undrafted and he was the superstar first round pick.  And it was awesome because we were trying to go to that play the whole game. I caught my first pass from Doug Flutie at first. And then we called the slant-go, Philip threw it up to me and I tip toed in (bounds)…That catch was my first TD and Philip's, so that is my favorite memory on the field."

Asked to name his favorite win, Floyd furrows his brow and looks up to the sky like he's done thousands of times while answering questions over his career.  Always wanting to give the best answer, he racks his brain and names a number of wins before landing on one he knows to be true.

His favorite win isn't one in which he scored a TD or set any record.  It wasn't even one in which he had a single catch. But instead, in true team-first Malcom Floyd fashion, it was the memory of clinching the division title in 2004 with a victory in Cleveland over the Browns.

"It has to be when we clinched in Cleveland.  First of all, it was so cold.  It was snowing and 15 degrees. We couldn't feel our skin, and we crushed them 21-0.  Antonio (Gates) and LT had crazy scores in that game. Man, that was nuts!"

Nowadays, Floyd is synonymous with the number 80.  However, he actually began his career wearing number 13.  He most likely would have worn 13 his entire career had his wide receivers coach, Hall of Famer James Lofton, not encouraged him to switch to his old number.

"Coach Lofton was number 80, and he wanted me to be number 80," Floyd said. "So I switched to that number my second year.  That was crazy to me.  It meant a lot because he was a Hall of Famer, so I said, 'Ok, coach! I got you!'"

Soon enough, his M80 nickname took hold as teammates watched in wonder as he hauled in deep bombs with regularity.  In fact, one of his fellow wide receivers came up with the moniker.

"Greg Camarillo gave it to me," Floyd said. "He was really witty and smart, and he made it up one day and it just stuck."

M80 suited him to a tee as he struck fear into the opposition with his ability to stretch the field.  He repeatedly made the impossible catch look routine, but never took the credit upon himself.

"I really just watched my older brother when I was growing up. He played in the NFL too, and he had a knack for going deep.  Philip has a great deep ball, so that is what really helped me.  I think just my size and speed against the average corner is what helps out.  I guess I always knew I had an advantage, but it's really because of Philip."

While Floyd went on to author a legendary career, it wasn't always smooth sailing.  He didn't become a mainstay in the Bolts' offense until 2008, and battled numerous injuries over the years. The wideout only played a full 16 game slate twice, the second of those coming in 2014 after he battled back from his biggest injury scare to start 16 games for the only time in his career.

Floyd was on fire to start Week 2's tilt vs. the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 15, 2013.  He caught five passes for 102 yards in the first half, and Rivers looked his way over the middle on the second play of the third quarter.  As Floyd tried to make the catch, he absorbed a violent hit that snapped his neck back.  He lay motionless for what seemed like an eternity. Immobilized, he was carted off the field. At that moment, football was the furthest thing from anyone's mind.

Except for Floyd.

The first thing he did when he saw Rivers was apologize for not being able to make the catch.

Determined to return to the game he loved, Floyd rehabbed diligently for months and was on the field when the Chargers opened OTAs for the 2014 season.  He went on to post career-highs in starts (16), yards (856) and touchdowns (6), while his 53 catches were the second most of his career and just four less than his personal best set in 2012.  Floyd was named the Chargers' Most Inspirational Player and the Ed Block Courage Award winner for his stirring comeback.  But for him, it was nothing special.

"I really don't think that says anything about me; it's just what football players do," he said. "We like to compete and play through things.  To me, it's no different than Philip playing when he had a messed up knee or (Antonio) Gates with his Plantar Fasciitis. If you can play, you play in order to benefit your team."

 For all those reasons and more, there will never be another Malcom Floyd.  From his all-out hustle and acrobatic catches to his humble nature and bright-eyed smile, anyone who has ever come across the wide receiver is better for having known him.

"He is not underappreciated in here, but he is probably an underappreciated guy on the outside I would think for the most part," Rivers said.  "I think the guys who play against him certainly respect him, but he doesn't have that flashy style, is so humble and he just kind of goes about his business.  But he's had a heck of a run. A 12-year career as an undrafted free agent, and staying with one team the whole time, that's pretty special.  And his yards per catch are up there with the best all-time, right there in the top couple."

So what's next for Floyd now that his playing days are over?

"I'm going to definitely spend some time back home in Sacramento helping my mom and the community," he said. "I'm going to help my mom in her school, and spend a lot of time with my kids.  But the main thing is I make sure and give back to the less fortunate.  My brothers and I are going to start a nonprofit foundation to help the kids at my mom's school and in those neighborhoods.  I'll also spend time in San Diego, but the majority of my time will be helping out in Sacramento.  I am also going to go back to school at some point, but not to get any degree.  I just want to learn more. I want to learn more about bioengineering, electronics and stuff like that.  I want to be able to build things on my own."

While he may no longer be suiting up for the Bolts, you can count on him watching the Chargers each week, cheering them on loudly every Sunday.

"I'm a Charger for life.  I'll always be a Chargers fan no matter where I am, or where they are.  This team stands for so much and I owe them a lot.  This is a team that has had my back, and I've been here over a third of my life.  I'll bleed gold and blue forever."

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