LA Chargers countdown to 2020: Best number 91 in team history
By Jason Reed
There are 91 days until we see the LA Chargers back in action in Week 1.
Counting today, there are officially 91 days until the LA Chargers kick off their 2020 season against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1.
To countdown the 2020 season, we have been naming the best player in franchise history who wore the number the coincides with the number of days remaining until the Chargers are back in action. Thus far, not a single current member of the Chargers has been named.
That streak continues with the number 91. Not only is the current number 91 — Cortez Broughton — not a realistic option to win this honor, but one of the best and most overlooked players in franchise history donned the number 91.
The best number 91 in LA Chargers history: Leslie O’Neal
Leslie O’Neal was an elite, all-around football player. Charger fans certainly know who he is and it is a shame that he no longer gets the widespread recognition that he deserves as one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time.
He is undoubtedly the second greatest defensive player in Chargers’ history, behind Junior Seau, and was a beacon of consistency and success during his tenure with the Chargers.
O’Neal played nine seasons on the Chargers from 1986 to 1995 (he missed the entire 1987 season) and once he had his health under him, he was elite.
O’Neal was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year after recording 12.5 sacks and was on a quick path to put together truly historic numbers. However, He missed all of 1987 with a knee injury and only played in nine games the following year, starting one, and there were worries about his career ever reaching its potential.
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O’Neal came back with another 12.5 sack season and was a six-time Pro Bowler in the next seven seasons. His career-high in sacks in a single season was 17 in 1992 and from 1989 to 1995 O’Neal recorded a combined 89 sacks and 492 solo tackles.
O’Neal had the most sacks in the entire NFL in that timespan, even more than Pro Football Hall of Famer Reggie White, who was also in his prime and was named an All-Pro four times in that period. O’Neal never got an All-Pro nod.
After his early-career injury concerns, O’Neal turned into someone who the Chargers could consistently rely upon to be out there and be contributing. In that same seven-year window, O’Neal only missed one game.
O’Neal is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks with 105.5 and he is one of only 34 players in NFL history to reach the 100-sack threshold.
Joey Bosa could absolutely challenge that number if he continues at his current rate and plays for the LA Chargers for another 5-7 years, but right now, Leslie O’Neal is the Chargers’ sacks king and is criminally underrated historically.