The Chargers stayed in San Diego for more than half a century -- 55 years, no matter what the sign says. Now, they'll have the option to return to their city of origin after 10 AFC West championships, one AFL title and a Super Bowl appearance. If they do leave, here are 10 of the best memories no one can take from San Diego fans.
Getty ImagesSean M. Haffey
1964: AFL champs!
Balboa Stadium was packed to the brim -- over 30,000 strong -- to witness their Chargers thump the Boston Patriots, 51-10. Versatile running back Keith Lincoln totaled 349 yards of offense and Lance Alworth caught a touchdown pass. No San Diego-based major professional sports team has won a title since.
NFLCharles Aqua Viva
1978: Lance Alworth heads to the Hall
Lance Alworth wasn’t just the first Charger to be inducted in Canton, Ohio. He was the AFL’s first representative, indicative of his over-arching talents. His presenter that day crossed rivalry lines to show his support: Oakland Raiders owner (and former Chargers position coach) Al Davis.
Getty ImagesTony Tomsic
1982: Chargers go the distance in South Beach
They called this one the 'Epic In Miami' for a reason. The Chargers built a 24-point first-quarter lead, only to see it evaporate over the next 45 minutes of play in the extreme South Beach heat. But after two blocked field goals (one to end regulation, one in overtime), quarterback Dan Fouts drove the Bolts for an AFC Divisional Round win with just over a minute to go. A dehydrated Kellen Winslow had to be helped off the field.
Getty ImagesFocus On Sport
1990: The Bolts draft a legend
Junior Seau left USC in 1990, but the all-everything linebacker stayed in Southern California. General manager Bobby Beathard scooped up No. 55 with the fifth overall pick in that year's draft. By 1991, 'The Tasmanian Devil' was a Pro Bowl player. The late linebacker played the fiirst 13 years of his two-decade career with the Chargers and will forever be tied to San Diego sports.
1995: On to the Super Bowl
The Bolts were a six-point underdog in the AFC Championship game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. A late defensive stand, highlighted by Dennis Gibson's tipped pass, changed that. About 70,000 fans met the Chargers back in San Diego to celebrate their first AFC title and Super Bowl berth.
Getty ImagesRick Stewart
2004: Goodbye, Eli ... hello, Philip
No. 1 overall pick Eli Manning didn't want to play in San Diego, so the No. 4 overall pick, quarterback Philip Rivers, and the picks that would become linebacker Shawne Merriman and kicker Nate Kaeding were sent to America's Greatest City. The Chargers went to the playoffs in five of the next six seasons.
ZUMA PressBob Leverone/Sporting News/Icon
2006: LaDainian Tomlinson cements his legacy
The Chargers were just along for L.T.’s record-breaking touchdown ride in 2006. He surpassed Shaun Alexander’s record in just 13 games and ended the year with 31 touchdowns. He also snapped a 46-year record for most points scored in a season with 186 and totaled 2,323 yards from scrimmage.
THE DENVER POSTANDY CROSS
2007: Cro' goes the distance in the Metrodome
No NFL player will ever break Antonio Cromartie’s record 109-yard return. He caught a missed Vikings field goal by Ryan Longwell in bounds (somehow), raced upfield and ended up scoring. It was the signature highlight in a signature Chargers season that ended one game short of the Super Bowl.
Getty ImagesDoug Pensinger
2008: Billy Volek to the rescue
The longtime reserve quarterback stunned the reigning Super Bowl champion Colts in a divisional playoff game at the RCA Dome after replacing starter Philip Rivers, who had torn his ACL, in the fourth quarter. Volek completed three of four passes for 48 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard sneak.
Getty ImagesDoug Pensinger
2013: No guts, no glory, no playoffs
Think of the risk Erc Weddle took when he called his own number to fake a punt in overtime. His Chargers faced fourth-and-2 at their own 28-yard-line; miss the 30 and they’d miss the playoffs. But Weddle wouldn’t be denied, and he took the plunge that, in all likelihood, would lead to the Chargers' last posteason berth in San Diego.