The Chargers started their existence in Los Angeles before spending the majority of their existence as the San Diego Chargers from 1961-2016, when they returned to their birth city. In their early days, the Chargers were one of the more successful AFL franchises, including five AFL West Division Championships along with four AFL Championship appearances, defeating the Boston Patriots in 1963.
A decade and a half of lean years saw the Chargers miss the NFL playoffs after the 1970 merger, until breaking out with three straight AFC West Division Championships between 1979 and 1981, but failed to advance past the AFC Championship Game, losing to the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals in their appearances.
Another rash of lean seasons followed, starting in 1983 and lasting until 1991, when the Chargers won the AFC West the next season before losing to the Miami Dolphins in the Divisional Playoffs.
1994 proved to set a new standard for the Chargers, as they won the AFC West at 11-5 and advanced to their first Super Bowl, a 49-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Turmoil haunted the Chargers soon after, compiling poor records from 1996 to 2003, bottoming out at 1-15 in 2000 while selecting arguably the biggest draft bust in quarterback Ryan Leaf in 1998.
The franchise was in such doldrums, 2004 #1 Draft Pick Eli Manning refused to play for them if the team drafted him, with many believing this to be his father’s, Archie Manning’s call. Archie Manning was a Pro Bowl quarterback for the New Orleans Saints between 1971 and 1982, never finishing a season above .500 in that timespan.
So, without Manning, it was Philip Rivers to receive the nod as the 2004 Chargers, then under quarterback Drew Brees, (who ironically ended up playing for the Saints in 2006) led the Chargers to a 12-4 record and surprising AFC West Championship before losing to the New York Jets in the Wildcard Playoffs.
In 2006, Rivers’ first season as the starter, he led the Chargers to a 14-2 record and Number One overall seed, where the team lost to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Playoffs, who they also fell victim to in the 2007 AFC Championship Game a year later.
2008 and 2009 saw two more AFC West Titles, but they could never advance past the Divisional Playoffs.
Lean seasons followed the Chargers from 2010 to their final season in San Diego, making just one playoff appearance in 2013 before bottoming out at 5-11 and 4-12 in 2015 and 2016.
In 2017 the team returned to Los Angeles before compiling the best record in the AFC in 2018, along with their AFC West rival, the Kansas City Chiefs. Losing the tiebreaker, however, forced the Chargers to play as a 5th seed, rather than as the 1st seed, where they defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the Wildcard Playoffs before falling to New England in the Divisional Round.
Los Angeles Chargers Quick Hits
StubHub Center, Carson, California
Navy blue, powder blue, white, gold
Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Junior Seau, LaDanian Tomlinson
Won The Epic in Miami, arguably the greatest playoff game of all time.
Main Article: Los Angeles Chargers Helmet History
Main Article: Los Angeles Chargers Jersey History