CHARGERS ‘92 : Why Wait to Do the Honors?

The Chargers’ 1992 Media Guide has a powerful cover with jagged lightning bolts screaming across a dark blue background.

It looks like it might explode if you plugged it in.

Inexplicably, Nate Lewis is the “cover boy” in the lower right corner, triumphantly holding a football aloft. Putting Lewis on the cover is a little bit like the Padres featuring Jerald Clark, which they didn’t. Nothing against Lewis & Clark, but both teams have more prominent performers.

However, the biggest question that crossed my mind as I thumbed through the Chargers Media Guide had to do with Page 200 rather than the cover.

The listing: “San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.”

The Chargers’ Hall of Fame seems to have slammed its doors since Gary Garrison and Sid Gillman were inducted in 1985.

No Admittance . . . Do Not Enter.


I mean, it’s beginning to look like it’s easier to get onto the U.S. Supreme Court than into the Chargers’ Hall of Fame. Who would have thought the day would come when it would be easier to get into the Kremlin, for heaven’s sake.

You might say, “Wait a minute! What have the Chargers done since 1985 to merit admission to anything but a Hall of Shame?”

You’re right.


Not since 1982, in fact.


The problem is that the Chargers’ Hall of Fame has thus far ignored one of the most electrifying and exciting eras in the history of San Diego sports.

For all you’d know from the guys the Chargers have honored, Air Coryell never got off the ground . . . if it existed at all. Maybe those 1979 through 1982 teams should have an exhibit at the Aerospace Museum rather than their franchise’s Hall of Fame.

You know who is missing?

Let me give you a brief rundown on who’s in and who’s out:

* Lance Alworth is in, but not Charlie Joiner.

* Ron Mix is in, but not Russ Washington.

* Barron Hilton is in, but not Gene Klein.

* Ernie Ladd is in, but not Louie Kelcher.

* Walt Sweeney is in, but not Ed White (or Doug Wilkerson).

* John Hadl is in, but not Dan Fouts.

* Gary Garrison is in, but not John Jefferson (or Wes Chandler).

* Sid Gillman is in, but not Don Coryell.

Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln and Chuck Allen are also in, but Kellen Winslow, Fred Dean and Gary Johnson are not. You may have some ideas on others looking in from out.

A few names and faces are missing from this Hall of Fame portrait, right? This gap since 1985 has created a situation in which the “should be in” numbers more than the 11 who are in.

It is almost as if the Chargers are taking the wrong era and sweeping it under the rug, as though it never existed. Maybe it represents an annoying legacy that the Alex Spanos Era as owner has not been able to come close to matching.

Surely, it has been frustrating to Spanos. He has enjoyed neither success nor acclaim as an NFL owner. He has maintained consistently high hopes, often unrealistically high hopes, since he bought the club in 1984, but his team has never made as much as a serious flirtation with a postseason appearance.

Has this Hall of Fame business been shoved onto a back burner . . . or off the stove . . . until such time that a Spanos team creates cause for celebration?

If so, it’s a mistake.

Maybe history cannot repeat itself if its existence is not acknowledged. The Chargers cannot stubbornly seek tradition in the future. It’s already there for them, waiting to be dusted off.

Alex Spanos has not enjoyed much popularity during his tenure as owner, the nadir being that Sunday in 1988 when he was booed while doing something nice. He was retiring Dan Fouts’ uniform number. It did not help on that occasion that it was halftime of a 48-10 pummeling at the hands of San Francisco.

Perhaps the best thing he could do would be to personally make the announcement that the doors to the Charger Hall of Fame are open again . . . and people like Coryell and Fouts and Joiner are this year’s inductees.

If guys like that are not in this franchise’s Hall of Fame, then you may as well close it down and tear Page 200 out of the Media Guide. You leave out those people from that era and what you have is a very empty place.