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These AFL Team pages were salvaged from the defunct site aflfootball.tripod.com, which inspired my AFL pages.
They are dedicated to that site's creator, Robert Phillips, who has re-created his site at afl-football.50.webs.com.

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Chargers Facts

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LA CHARGERS
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

The Chargers were born on August 14, 1959, when Barron Hilton, a 32-year-old hotel executive, was awarded a franchise for Los Angeles in the new American Football League. Even though they won the AFL Western division championship in 1960, the Los Angeles Chargers received meager fan support so Hilton, buoyed by the encouragement of San Diego sports editor Jack Murphy, moved his team 120 miles south to San Diego in 1961. Historic Balboa Stadium was expanded to 34,000 capacity to accommodate the Chargers.

In San Diego, the Chargers, spurred by coach Sid Gillman, developed into one of the true glamour teams of any decade. Gillman's first teams were high-scoring, crowd-pleasing juggernauts that won divisional championships five of the AFL's first six years and the AFL title with a 51-10 win over Boston in 1963. Such stars as wide receiver Lance Alworth, running backs Keith Lincoln and Paul Lowe and quarterback John Hadl not only made the Chargers a winning team but they also provided image, impetus and respect for the entire AFL that was fighting a life-and-death struggle with the established and well-financed NFL. Gillman, Alworth and tackle Ron Mix, another 1960's superstar, are now members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Chargers moved into a new 60,835-seat stadium --- it is now called San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium -- in 1967. While the new home assured the future of pro football in San Diego, the team itself did not win another championship until 13 years later in 1979. Gillman suddenly retired from coaching because of failing health after nine games in 1969. He did coach 10 more games for the Chargers in 1971 but the glory days of the early 1960's could not be duplicated. Gillman's 87-57-6 record in 11 seasons in San Diego is easily the best in Chargers history.

Hilton sold the Chargers to Eugene V. Klein in 1966. Klein in turn sold the team to Alex G. Spanos, a successful Stockton, California, businessman, in 1984. Spanos serves today as Chairman of the Board of the Chargers.

Chargers Facts

  • Franchise Granted:
    August 14, 1959 as the Los Angeles Chargers and Charter Member of AFL
  • First Season:
    1960
  • Moved to San Diego:
    1961
  • Stadium:
    Balboa Stadium, Jack Murphy (now Qualcomm) Stadium
  • Head Coaches:
    Sid Gillman, Charlie Waller
  • AFL Championship:
    1963
  • AFL Western Division Championship:
    1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965
  • All-Time AFL Record:
    87-52-6

Chargers' Historical Performance

REGULAR SEASON
YEAR GP W L T PF PA PCT. HEAD COACH
1960* 14 10 4 0 373 336 0.714    Sid Gillman
1961 14 12 2 0 396 219 0.857    Sid Gillman
1962 14 4 10 0 314 392 0.286    Sid Gillman
1963 14 12 2 0 399 255 0.857    Sid Gillman
1964 14 8 5 1 341 300 0.607    Sid Gillman
1965 14 9 2 3 340 227 0.750    Sid Gillman
1966 14 7 6 1 335 284 0.536    Sid Gillman
1967 14 8 5 1 360 352 0.607    Sid Gillman
1968 14 9 5 0 382 310 0.643    Sid Gillman
1969 14 8 6 0 288 276 0.571    Sid Gillman, Charlie Waller

Chargers Totals 140 87 47 6 3528 2951 0.643  
* - Los Angeles Chargers

 
POSTSEASON
YEAR W L PCT. RESULT
1960* 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
1961 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
1963 1 0 1.000 AFL CHAMPIONS
1964 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
1965 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
* - Los Angeles Chargers
 

Ernie Ladd takes on the Boston Patriots' Billy Neighbors, 1963.

Photo from Murray Olderman's The Defenders

Firsts, Records, and Odds and Ends

  • Original Franchise Location:
    The Chargers moved to San Diego in 1961, after one season in Los Angeles.
  • First Regular-Season Game:
    A 21-20 victory over the Dallas Texans, 9/10/60.
  • First Winning Season:
    1960 (10-4).
  • First Playoff Appearance:
    A 24-16 loss to the Houston Oilers in the American Football League Championship game, 1/1/61.
  • First All-League Selections:
    T Ron Mix, QB Jack Kemp, HB Paul Lowe, DT Volney Peters, DB Dick Harris, 1960.
  • First Charger Elected to the Hall of Fame:
    WR Lance Alworth, 1978.
  • First to Rush 100 Yards in a Game:
    Paul Lowe, 137 yards vs. the Boston Patriots, 10/28/60.
  • First 1,000-Yard Rusher:
    Paul Lowe, 1,010 yards (1963).
  • Most Yards Rushing, Career:
    Paul Lowe, 4,963 yards (1960-67).
  • It's A Fact:
    The Chargers' uniform was unveiled on March 20, 1960. Models for the uniform were future Hall of Famer Ron Mix and quarterback/Congressman Jack Kemp.
Copyright 1997-2004 Robert Phillips. All rights reserved.

USA Today ~ July 14, 2009

Chargers' days with Al Davis set stage for Raiders rivalry
Former Chargers receiver Lance Alworth said the team's rivalry with the Raiders flared up after Al Davis left San Diego to run the Oakland franchise when both were in the AFL. "He would give us heck every time we played," Alworth said.
By Denis Poroy, AP
Former Chargers receiver Lance Alworth said the team's rivalry with the Raiders flared up after Al Davis left San Diego to run the Oakland franchise when both were in the AFL. "He would give us heck every time we played," Alworth said.
If the AFL sought to present itself as the perfect embodiment of the 1960s — a hip, wide-open alternative to the stodgier NFL — perhaps no team better represented that ideal than the high-flying San Diego Chargers.

Under innovative head coach Sid Gillman and a staff that included Chuck Noll, Bum Phillips and, perhaps most telling, Al Davis, San Diego featured a new breed of passing attack that was unheard of in the pre-Kennedy era. Gillman, who coached the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, ran what Hall of Fame receiver Lance Alworth calls "the original West Coast offense."

Alworth was the Chargers' biggest name. He led the AFL in receiving yards and receptions three times each and remains the franchise's all-time leader with 9,584 receiving yards.

But Gillman had plenty of other talent. Jack Kemp, who would become a star in Buffalo, was the original quarterback before John Hadl took over in 1962. Hadl twice led the AFL in passing, and only Hall of Famer Dan Fouts has surpassed Hadl's 26,938 passing yards and 201 touchdown throws in San Diego.

The backfield also featured Paul Lowe, who led the AFL in rushing in 1965. Hall of Fame tackle Ron Mix anchored a strong offensive line.

"It was the most explosive offense I'd ever seen," Mix said recently from his San Diego law office. "We were doing things that weren't done by other coaches: running halfbacks into pass patterns, using (multi-) receiver (formations), running pitches to the back around end.

"The scheme was aided by tremendous football talent. At any moment, you could expect to see Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln or Lance Alworth exploding for a touchdown."

That quick-strike approach helped the Chargers to the AFL Championship Game five times between 1960 and 1965. But they walked away with only one title, a 51-10 drubbing of the Boston Patriots in 1963 when San Diego's offense paced the AFL in points scored and yards gained.

Alworth and Mix agree that the defense played by teams such as the Buffalo Bills and Houston Oilers hindered their ability to win numerous titles. Alworth also feels injuries played a major factor in his team's failure to win multiple AFL crowns.

"I had been hurt in the previous game, I found out years later," Alworth says of a knee injury that hampered him in the team's 20-7 loss to the Bills in the 1964 title game. "I had torn an ACL."

Mix has other ideas about why the Oilers bested the Chargers in 1960 and 1961.

"The Houston Oilers had done a great job of putting together a team and had gotten NFL players," Mix says of a club that signed NFL veteran George Blanda as its quarterback and halfback Billy Cannon, winner of the 1959 Heisman Trophy. "They bought the championship."

While the Bills and Oilers gave the Chargers problems in the postseason, their biggest rivals were situated just up the coast in Oakland. Davis' defection to the Raiders in 1963 helped set the stage for a decades-long rivalry.

"Sid Gillman created the rivalry," Mix says. "To Sid, the ultimate act of disloyalty was to leave his coaching staff. ... Before Al got to the Raiders, we used to beat them by 40 points a game. He took great pleasure in turning that around. Not because it was (his former team), but because the Chargers were the gold standard at that time."

Alworth makes it clear that Davis also fueled the rivalry. "He would give us heck every time we played," he says.

But Alworth admits that he owes much of his success to Davis, who recruited him out of Arkansas and converted him from running back to receiver. Alworth calls Davis "a very knowledgeable guy, a great judge of character and athletes."

While the offense got all the attention, Mix says the defense played a huge role in San Diego's success.

"The defense was really overlooked," Mix says of a group that was consistently ranked near the top of the AFL. "Every time (they took the field), it was three-and-out. Chuck Noll, Jack Faulkner and Bum Phillips were outstanding coaches."

But AFL battles aside, Mix admits that the biggest rivalry in those days was with the NFL. He talks about being drafted by the powerful Baltimore Colts and recounts how their offer fell far below San Diego's.

"I told (Colts owner) Carroll Rosenbloom about the Chargers' offer, and he said, 'Go ahead, take it. That league's going to fold anyway.'

"That's how they viewed it. When they lost Joe Namath to the Jets (who outbid the St. Louis Cardinals for the QB), that's when they finally started paying attention."

Both Mix and Alworth got a taste of the NFL after the 1970 merger. Following a brief retirement, Mix received an offer from, of all people, Davis in 1971. He said playing for his longtime rivals was not that difficult. "Guys are the same on every team," says Mix, who started four games in his lone year with Oakland.

Alworth, a Houston native, had a different experience after joining the Dallas Cowboys, also in 1971. Upon arriving, Alworth was brought in to meet with head coach Tom Landry.

"He said, 'Look, the reason I traded for you was to block,' " says Alworth, who averaged 55 receptions per season over his nine years in San Diego but caught 49 balls total in two years with the Cowboys. "He said, 'If you block, we'll win the Super Bowl.'

"And we did."

The Chargers are still awaiting their first Super Bowl title. But San Diego will always retain a championship legacy from its days as an AFL powerhouse.


         "The Houston Oilers had done a great job of putting together a team and had gotten NFL players," Mix says of a club that signed NFL veteran George Blanda as its quarterback and halfback Billy Cannon, winner of the 1959 Heisman Trophy
. Mix thus rationalizes the Chargers' losses to the Oilers.
              
Blanda was indeed a player that the conservative NFL under-appreciated and cut. His career afterwards shows the folly of that decision. Blanda considers himself to be an AFL player. Billy Cannon was never in the NFL. He signed with both leagues, but played for the AFL's Oilers. The Oilers' championship teams also had Other *pure AFL* Oilers such as Jim Norton, Charlie Hennigan, Bob Talamini, Don Floyd, Bill Groman, Charlie Tolar and many others.
               The Chargers were a great American Football League team. The Oilers, in 1960 and 1961, happened to be a better *AFL* team. That doen't diminish the importance of the Chargers' impact on the AFL and all of Professioanl Football. Often featured in the second game of the AFL's pioneering, nationally televised "doubleheaders", the Chargers gained exposure to fans around the country, even in NFL cities. Too bad the NFL writers were too busy trying to meet their deadlines to watch those games, or players like Hadl, Keith Lincoln, Paul Lowe, Dave Kocourek, Walt Sweeney, Earl Faison and Ernie Ladd might have gotten enough "ink" to join Mix and Alworth in the "Pro Football" Hall of Fame.
               Sid Gilman's influence on Professional Football can't be overstated. His "coaching tree" of men who benefited from his mentorship includes head coaches whose teams have won a total of twenty Super Bowls.
~ REMEMBER the AFL
 

USA TODAY Series on the AFL:  

  How the AFL changed the NFL
   Boston Patriots
   Miami Dolphins
     CincinNati Bengals
    Denver Broncos
    OAKLAND RAIDERS
     Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs
    New York TITANS/JETS
    BUFFALO BILLS
    HOUSTON OILERS
 
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Last revision: 20 July 2012 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com