Los Angeles Chargers: 30 greatest players in franchise history

By Travis Wakeman
1987: Quarterback Dan Fouts
1987: Quarterback Dan Fouts /
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30 Dec 1990: Defensive lineman Leslie O”Neal of the San Diego Chargers celebrates during a game against the Los Angeles Raiders at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won the game, 17-12. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport
30 Dec 1990: Defensive lineman Leslie O”Neal of the San Diego Chargers celebrates during a game against the Los Angeles Raiders at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won the game, 17-12. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport /

9. 13. . . OLB/DE. Leslie O'Neal

If there is one former Chargers player not already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who deserves to be, my vote goes to this man.

Leslie O’Neal is on a short list of the greatest defensive players in team history. His 105.5 sacks with the team are by far the most in Chargers history, as the next-closest player in Shaun Phillips is 36 away.

For his career, O’Neal had 132.5 sacks, the same amount as Lawrence Taylor, as he also played for the then-St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. That puts him in a tie at No. 13 on the all-time sacks list.

Of the 12 players ahead of him on that list, eight are already in the Pro FootballHall of Fame. At least two others — Julius Peppers and Jared Allen, will almost certainly get that call when they are eligible for enshrinement.

So what about O’Neal? He can’t be left out.

The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1986 was selected to the Pro Bowl six times. In seven of his first nine seasons with the Chargers, he registered at least 10 sacks. He had more sacks than anyone in the league in 1992, when he got to the quarterback 17 times.

But when looking at that list of players ahead of him on the all-time sack list, it’s perhaps even more eye-opening to look at those behind him.

Rickey Jackson, Derrick Thomas, Charles Haley and Andre Tippett all finished their careers with fewer sacks than O’Neal. But all four of those guys have received bronze busts in Canton.

A sack is a play that is as impactful as just about anything in the game of football. O’Neal was one of the best to ever step on the gridiron at forcing a sack.

He comes in at No. 9 on this list, and that may not be high enough.

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