4. Marcus McNeill, 2006
Marcus McNeill was a key part of the Chargers’ offensive line in what was arguably the team’s most successful period as a franchise. With a young, future Hall of Fame quarterback in Philip Rivers and one of the best running backs in his prime in LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers were dangerous in the mid-to-late 2000s.
The Chargers made the playoffs four seasons in a row from 2006 to 2009, all of which McNeill was a starter for. Prior to this run, the Chargers had only made the playoffs four times in a row once before, from 1979-1982.
While the Chargers did not make the Super Bowl like their 1994 counterparts, they easily could have made the Super Bowl in both 2006 and 2009, where they had 14 and 13 wins, respectively.
McNeill’s best seasons with the Chargers were his first two in the 2006 and 2007 season. The offensive tackle made the Pro Bowl in both of those years and was primed for a long-lasting career filled with many more Pro Bowls.
That was not ultimately what happened. While McNeill was still well-above average during his tenure with the Chargers, where a neck injury, unfortunately, ended his career. McNeill signed a six-year, $48 million contract that would have kept him on the team through 2015 but he had to retire in 2012 after a neck injury shortened his 2011 season.