SDUT: No. 19 a good start

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FU Spanos and Dundon
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

Alworth deserves jersey retired; so do Winslow, Joiner, Mix

November 18, 2005

With the exception of a botched play-call here, an unnecessary suspension there, and a public and childish name-calling spat with a city official, the Chargers seemingly have done everything right in recent years.

On the field, they have a legitimate chance at back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in a decade; off the field, they've regained the confidence of a skeptical and frustrated fan base.

Their decision to retire Lance Alworth's jersey during Sunday's game against Buffalo is another example of a step in the right direction. By leaning on their past, the Chargers can strengthen their future. Alworth is one of the true athletic immortals, and his being recognized was long overdue.

But let's hope the Chargers don't stop there. Now that the door has been opened, Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner and Ron Mix should be allowed to pass through the portal of franchise immortality by having their jerseys retired alongside those of Alworth and Dan Fouts.

Each of the five is a member of the most elite fraternity in football – the Pro Football Hall of Fame – and it makes no sense that two of them would have their jerseys retired while three others do not. Right?

"Lance is a special, special case; he was the first AFL player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Jim Steeg, the team's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Lance made No. 19 synonymous with the wide receiver position. No pass catcher will ever do justice to No. 19 the way Lance did."

Steeg is absolutely correct. Alworth was a great player and remains a class act. Fred "The Hammer" Williamson considered himself one of the game's hardest hitters during his era, and he once said Alworth was the toughest player he ever faced, regardless of position. Alworth's tenacity, speed, athleticism and flypaper hands made him the face of the wideout position during his day, just as Winslow later became the signature player for tight ends during his career.

It is not a reach to say that Winslow revolutionized the position. He was big, strong and agile, with hands that were better than some wideouts'. There has been a frosty relationship between Winslow and the organization for some time, but that shouldn't get in the way of the organization doing what's right, which is to add Winslow, Joiner and Mix to the list of players whose numbers should be retired.

"We have no plans to retire any other numbers," Steeg said by e-mail. "The committee meets annually to discuss inductees into the Charger Hall of Fame, and this year they unanimously recommended this idea."

For that, the five-member committee that included Chargers President Dean Spanos, should be applauded. If the committee members didn't know what the honor meant to Alworth before the official announcement, they did at the subsequent news conference when, choked with emotion as he thanked Spanos, Alworth said the retirement ceremony would mean more to him than going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We can only hope it doesn't take 17 more years for another Chargers jersey to be retired. Greatness should be recognized and embraced, particularly when it resides within your own family.

Truth be told, Alworth's number should have been immortalized before Fouts'. And the remaining Hall of Famers should be honored before the franchise even thinks about retiring the jerseys of Junior Seau, LaDainian Tomlinson and, possibly, Rodney Harrison. That would be the smart move for an organization that has made a lot of wise decisions of late.


Oct 18, 2005
Kellen Winslow is a fan favorite here in SD. But the reason why Winslow's jersey hasn't been retired yet is because of his falling out with the organization. Ron Mix and Charlie Joiner should defintely have their jerseys retired. Besides, no one is wearing #18 anyways.


Nov 20, 2005
Sevilla, España
Congratulations, Lance Alworth! And thanks for all of those thrilling performances at Balboa and San Diego stadiums. What a player!