No. 1: Leslie O’Neal
If you have Coryell in this spot, that’s fine, I wouldn’t argue it much. But if I had one vote for a Chargers player not already in the Hall of Fame, it would go to Leslie O’Neal. As I said,players always get the bod before coaches.
The No. 8 overall selection of the 1986 draft, O’Neal spent 10 seasons with the Chargers. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in six of those and was the 1986 Defensive Rookie of the Year.
When talking about great Chargers defenders, you’ll hear names like Junior Seau, Eric Weddle and Jamal Williams. So why isn’t O’Neal’s name mentioned more often?
O’Neal isn’t just the team’s all-time leader in sacks, he has a comfortable lead over everyone else, including 36 more sacks than the guy in second place.
In an era where the league featured outstanding defensive players such as Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders, O’Neal was not lost in the shuffle. In fact, he still sits in a tie at No. 13 on the all-time sack list.
But what’s interesting about that? Here are some players that have less career sacks than O’Neal who are in the Hall of Fame: Andre Tippett, Charles Haley, Thomas and Rickey Jackson.
Many of the guys in the Hall from that era were more complete players than O’Neal, but he could get after the quarterback as well as any defensive end that played during that time period.
He’s part of the Chargers’ Ring of Fame and was named to the team’s 50th anniversary squad. All that’s left is the ring and gold jacket, but there’s a solid chance he’ll never see it happen.