With all due respect to Don Macek, Nick Hardwick is the best center in Chargers history.
If Philip Rivers ever had to identify his favorite teammate, there’s a good chance that the answer would be Hardwick. For nearly a decade, the two shared the same offense with Hardwick being the guy to snap the ball to No. 17. But he was so much more than that.
A third-round pick out of Purdue in 2004, Hardwick played in 136 games for the team, starting every one of those. Though injuries eventually forced him away from the game, he was as tough as they come and was a true team player.
He was also part of the offensive line that opened holes for LaDainian Tomlinson to run into the record books in 2006. Though Rivers was sacked far too often later in Hardwick’s career, there likely isn’t another guy he’d rather have to to be his center.
Hardwick made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and was selected to the team’s 50th Anniversary squad, as well as being a team captain for much of the time he wore the jersey. He meant a lot to the team and to the City of San Diego, where he spent his entire professional playing career.
Following his time on the field, he dropped a considerable amount of weight and got into calling Chargers games on the radio. He decided to step away from that this past summer, but made it clear that he will always be a Charger.
Hardwick should be remembered as one of the most passionate, hard-working players in team history, one who was the ultimate teammate, as well as a guy the Bolts have never really adequately replaced.