LA Chargers numbers that need to be retired: Leslie O’Neal’s 91
The San Diego Chargers drafted Leslie O’Neal eighth overall in 1986 NFL Draft. They ended up getting one of the franchise’s most dominant players in its history.
O’Neal finished his Chargers career with 105.5 sacks, which is even more remarkable considering he basically missed all of his second and third seasons in the NFL after tearing up his knee at the end of his rookie season. He played 8 healthy seasons for the Chargers and dominated all of them, he only missed reaching double-digit sacks one time (1991) in those 8 seasons and in that particular year he got 9.
O’Neal was the NFL’s Rookie of the Year in 1986 after racking up 12.5 sacks, despite missing three games due to that aforementioned knee injury. He was voted to the league’s Pro Bowl six times in his Chargers’ tenure and was consistently recognized as one of the most dominant players in the league.
His season-best 17 sacks in 1992 is tied with Shawne Merriman for the best season in Charger’s history. O’Neal’s play that season was instrumental in helping the team end its nine-year AFC West title drought. The year the Chargers made their lone appearance in the Super Bowl he managed to get 12.5 sacks.
O’Neal went on to play four other seasons for the Rams and Chiefs where he was able to rack up 27 more sacks. For his career he totaled up 132.5 sacks, tied with Lawrence Taylor for fourteenth most all-time in league history.
It’s a travesty that O’Neal has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame yet and unfortunately it seems like the league has forgotten about the former Chargers legend. Thankfully, he was inducted to the team’s hall of fame in 2014, but the next step in honoring the former Chargers legend should be to retire his famous number 91.
Cortez Broughton currently wears number 91 for the LA Chargers.