Before the “Air Coryell” offense that the Chargers are best remembered for, the team had a stout defense. Fred Dean was a big part of that.
He’s also the first player on this list, up to this point, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A linebacker in college, Dean was moved to the defensive line at the next level. That moved worked out pretty well, you could say.
Dean was a sack master long before it was tracked as an official stat. Though he’s officially credited with just 28 sacks for his career, he would have closer to 100 if the sack was tracked before 1982. During his time, he was one of the league’s top pass rushers and the most feared defender on the Chargers’ roster.
Sadly, his career didn’t end with the team that selected him in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft. In 1981, Dean was unhappy with his contract and claimed that his brother-in-law, who was a truck driver, was making the same amount of money as him.
That led to a trade to the San Francisco 49ers. This made Dean another player, like many after him, to leave the Chargers for what they felt were greener pastures. In terms of success, this was a greener pasture, as Dean was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams in San Francisco.
He was selected to four Pro Bowls and is a member of the Hall of Fame of both the Chargers and 49ers. In 2008, he received the ultimate recognition as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was then chosen as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame the following year.