Surprising Chargers Wide Receiver In Top 5 in Pro Football History, Per NFL Analyst

Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Keen observers of football history aren’t surprised by this, but to today’s average Los Angeles Chargers fan, Lance Alworth is not a household name. But Alworth may have been the world’s first modern pass catcher and certainly one of its best.

In his recent article for the 33rd team, Ian Valentino reminded us all of the greatness that was Alworth’s career ranking him as the 5th best receiver of all time. This is what he wrote about “Bambi”;

“Lance Alworth’s case could be challenging if we harshly dinged his pre-merger production for the lack of competition, but his overwhelming dominance throughout his prime years is undeniable.

Nicknamed “Bambi” because the 6-foot, 184-pounder was as graceful and agile as anyone had seen, Alworth redefined the receiver position and how passing games operated. He led the NFL in receptions, yards, and touchdowns three times.

The raw stats are impressive enough. Alworth posted seven 1,000-yard seasons, including years with 1,602, 1,383, and 1,312 yards. But he averaged 18.9 yards a catch throughout his 11 seasons, including 19.4 during his nine-year stint with the San Diego Chargers. He led the AFL by almost 400 receiving yards in 1965 and set the stage for offenses to change how they attacked defenses in later years completely.”

Lance Alworth Among Other Chargers Greats

NFL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive Chargers
Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alworth retired in 1972 with the Chargers, AFL, and NFL records in receiving yards. His Chargers receiving yards record took over 40 years to break. Antonio Gates finally broke it in 2014. It took Gates 11 seasons to do what Alworth did in nine. Keenan Allen was the first Chargers wide receiver to pass him. Aleen was also in his 11th season before passing Alworth.

Elliot Harrison of pointed out in his WR rankings that Alworth’s accomplishments were done in a different era for pass catchers. He also compares him to Randy Moss, but better.

“What Alworth was able to accomplish in the 1960s, given the rules of the day — when defensive backs could bump receivers all the way down the eld — is remarkable. Alworth was the Moss of his day — except more complete. He just wasn’t as prolic late in his career. That said, “Bambi,” as he was known, was the ultimate home-run hitter. His 1965-66 seasons still might be the best back- to-back campaigns a receiver has ever had: In those two seasons, he averaged more than 110 yards and exactly one touchdown per game, at more than 20 yards per catch. Give me a break.”

In 1972, Alworth was inducted to the San Diego Hall of Champions. In 1977, he was inducted in the Chargers Hall of Fame. In 1978, he became the first San Diego Charger and the first AFL player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports