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LA Chargers countdown to 2020: The best number 81 in team history

LA Chargers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
LA Chargers (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
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We are officially 81 days away from seeing the LA Chargers back in action.

Counting today, we are 81 days away from the LA Chargers kicking off their 2020 season against first overall pick Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. That is, as long as the season still continues as planned.

To count down the 2020 season, we have been naming the best player in team history to wear every number that coincides with the number of days remaining. Thus far, not a single current Charger has earned the honor.

That will continue with the number 81, although the current number 81 has a chance to become the best ever if he signs another contract with the team after the 2021 season. Mike Williams had his first 1,000-yard season last season and several more solid years will absolutely put him at number one.

The best number 81 in team history only played on the Bolts for four years, but he was so great in those four years that it is hard to ignore him at the best number 81.

The best number 81 in LA Chargers’ history: Tony Martin

Tony Martin played on the Chargers from 1994 to 1997, which served as the prime of his career. Martin played for the Miami Dolphins for six years prior to becoming a Charger and for the Atlanta Falcons for two years after being a Charger but nothing compares to his tenure with the Chargers.

He was the number one receiving target on the 1994 team, which is the only team in franchise history to make it to the Super Bowl. He finished with 885 receiving yards and seven touchdowns that season.

Most importantly, Martin had the game-winning 43-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game with just over five minutes remaining. That score put the Chargers up 17-13, which was the final margin of the game.

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Martin got even better in his next three years as well. He had the best year of his career in terms of receiving yards in 1995 as he hauled in 1,224 yards on a career-high 90 receptions with six touchdowns.

The following year was the only Pro Bowl year of his career. Martin set another career-high in touchdowns with 14, which actually led the entire NFL. He finished with 1,171 yards and 85 receptions.

In his four-year stretch from 1994 to 1997, Martin totaled 4,184 receiving yards, 288 receptions and 33 touchdowns. He ranked 11th in the league in receiving yards and sixth in touchdowns. He was one of just seven receivers in that stretch to have 4,000+ receiving yards and 30+ touchdowns.

In terms of franchise history, Martin ranks 12th in receiving touchdowns and 11th in receiving yards. He has the third-highest receiving yards per game in franchise history among players with at least 50 games played, trailing only Lance Alworth and Keenan Allen.

Next. Best number 82 in team history

So while Mike Williams had a great season last year, he is going to have to string together a few more of those seasons to have the kind of Chargers career that Tony Martin had.

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