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The Chargers were born on August 14, 1959, when Barron Hilton, a 32-year-old hotel executive, was awarded a franchise for Los Angeles in the new American Football League. Even though they won the AFL Western division championship in 1960, the Los Angeles Chargers received meager fan support so Hilton, buoyed by the encouragement of San Diego sports editor Jack Murphy, moved his team 120 miles south to San Diego in 1961. Historic Balboa Stadium was expanded to 34,000 capacity to accommodate the Chargers. San Diego Chargers, professional football team and one of four teams in the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The Chargers play at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, and wear uniforms of navy blue, gold, and white.

From 1960 to 1965 the Chargers won five division championships and one league crown in the now-defunct American Football League (AFL). Wide receiver Lance Alworth set a professional football record by catching at least one pass in 96 consecutive games from 1962 to 1970. During the late 1970s and early 1980s head coach Don Coryell oversaw one of the most explosive offensive units in NFL history. The team was led by quarterback Dan Fouts and wide receiver Charlie Joiner, who both set career team records—Fouts with 43,040 passing yards and 254 passing touchdowns and Joiner with 586 receptions.

Founded by hotel magnate Barron Hilton, the Los Angeles Chargers were one of six charter members of the AFL in 1960. Although the Chargers won the AFL’s Western Division championship that year under head coach Sid Gillman, the franchise posted heavy financial losses and moved to San Diego the following year. A future Hall of Fame member, Gillman steered the club to four more Western Division crowns during the next five years. San Diego lost four of five AFL Championship Games, however, recording its only victory in 1963 over the Boston Patriots. Gillman had three outstanding quarterbacks in his charge: John Hadl, Jack Kemp, and Tobin Rote. He also coached one of the era’s finest wide receivers, Lance Alworth, who became the first AFL player to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Alworth posted six 1000-yard seasons in seven years, leading the league in yardage three times. Linebacker Emil Karas and end Earl Faison anchored the league’s top-rated defense in 1961 and 1963.

San Diego finished in third place in the Western Division each year from 1966 to 1969. The team joined the NFL in 1970 when the NFL and AFL completed their merger. As an NFL team, the Chargers continued to struggle, placing third or fourth in the AFC’s Western Division each year from 1970 to 1978.

In 1978 Don Coryell was named head coach and Dan Fouts took over as starting quarterback. A year later Fouts captured the first of three consecutive passing titles to lead the Chargers to the first of three straight division crowns. Fouts strung together four consecutive 300-yard games in 1979, establishing a record en route to the first 4000-yard season in NFL history. The records were two of many new NFL standards he set during his 15-year career. Fouts’s favorite targets were wide receiver Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow. All three were eventually elected to the Hall of Fame.

Although he was better known for his offensive strategy, Coryell assembled the league’s toughest defense in 1979, as the Chargers held 8 of 16 opponents to ten or fewer points. Linemen Fred Dean and Gary Johnson led the unit. Coryell and the Chargers failed to advance in the playoffs, however, losing in the first round in 1979 and in the second round the following three seasons.

In 1987 Fouts retired, ranking behind only Fran Tarkenton in career yards (43,040), completions (3297), and attempts (5604). (Dan Marino currently leads all three categories). A nine-season playoff drought followed, during which the club finished as high as third only once. Replacing Fouts became a struggle in itself, as San Diego cycled through four starting quarterbacks from 1988 to 1991. Stan Humphries settled into the job in 1992, leading the Chargers to three playoff appearances in four years under head coach Bobby Ross. Following the 1994 season, San Diego made its first Super Bowl appearance, losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 49-26.

1995 Super Bowl XXIX Lost to San Francisco 49ers, 49-26

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