By Tom Blair
What are the nuts and bolts that comprise an NFL team's storied past? In search of answers, PacificSD assembled a team of Chargers experts to help non-fans avoid looking like fools at football parties, and give die-hard fans the opportunity to match wits with the best.
Ever heard of Ryan Leaf , the worst draft selection in NFL history? The Chargers picked him second overall in the 1998 draft, signing him to a four-year contract worth $31 million, including an $11 million signing bonus. After just four wins in three seasons, Leaf was released by the Chargers. More recently, he's made blazing headlines -mostly for burglary and drug charges.
"Worst Draft Pick" is one of the categories we asked our experts to vote on, but then we ruled it out of bounds, in light of there being no serious competition for Leaf.
Our seven experts boast a combined 200-plus years of experience working with or covering the Chargers. Five have chronicled the team for the San Diego Union-Tribune: Jerry Magee, Rick Smith, Nick Canepa, Tom Cushman and Kevin Acee. One, Billy Ray Smith, turned a 10- year career as a Chargers linebacker into a 20-year career in broadcasting. NFL Hall of Famer Ron Mix was a tackle for the Chargers throughout the team's first decade. Attorney Mix now represents retired pro athletes in for workers' comp.
According to the pros, here are the players' names worth remembering - even for those who think football is a game you play with your feet.
Next time there's a lull in the football party conversation, drop the words "Epic in Miami." Most experts pick it as the most exciting game in NFL history, played in dehydration and exhaustion. Wikipedia devotes no fewer than 3,000 words (plus sources) to this ultimately meaningless game, played January 2, 1982. Sports Illustrated called it the "Game No One Should Have Lost." But Chargers fans will always remember it as their team's
most exciting win, ever - a 41-38 overtime victory over the Dolphins in the 100- degree heat and humidity of the Miami Orange Bowl . When it was over, it held NFL playoff records for most points scored by both teams, most total yards by both teams and most passing yards by both teams. Neither team went on to Super Bowl XVI, but TV reruns of the game are an annual certainty on sports networks.
Are the Chargers Girls still relevant?
Ron Mix: "Routines are too often overly sexually suggestive. Such conduct demeans women."
Billy Ray Smith: "They would be sorely missed on Sundays."
Tom Cushman: "We have to admire them for the time they devote. That, in addition to their school-teaching duties."