LA Chargers countdown to 2020: Best number 79 in team history


We are officially 79 days from seeing the LA Chargers back in action.

Counting today, we are 79 days away from the LA Chargers kicking off their 2020 season against first overall pick Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.

To count down the 2020 season, we have been naming the best player in franchise history to wear each number that coincides with the number of days remaining until Week 1. Thus far, not a single current Charger has earned the honor of the best to wear their number.

That will continue with the number 79. The current number 79 is Trey Pipkins, who has been a much-talked-about player this offseason as he is probably going to be the team’s starting left tackle this season. However, he is very far off from being the best number 79 in team history.

The best number 79 in LA Chargers’ history: Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson was a defensive lineman for the Chargers from 1975 to 1984 and is one of the best players in franchise history in terms of career Approximate Value with the team. His career 69 AV with the Chargers blows out every other number 79 in team history and he is tied for the 21st-most in team history.

It is hard to really appreciate how good Johnson was as sacks were not recorded for the first half of his career. Sacks did not become a recorded statistic until 1982, which served as the last year of his prime, which was not as good as his absolute peak.

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Johnson was a Pro Bowler four years in a row from 1979 to 1982 and was an All-Pro in 1980 and 1981. He is one of just 19 players in Chargers’ history to be named to multiple All-Pro teams. Only eight of those 19 are defensive players.

From the time that he came into the league in 1975 to when he was traded during the 1984 season, Johnson missed a grand total of one game. He missed one game in an entire decade.

There have been some other solid number 79s in franchise history as well. Mike Goff was an above-average guard for the Chargers for five years and Bill Hudson had an insane Pro Bowl year in his rookie year with the Chargers in 1961.

Next. Best number 80 in team history

At the end of the day, though, the best number 79 in franchise history is one of the best defensive linemen in team history. If sacks were available during his prime then his impact would be easier to comprehend, but Johnson’s place as the best number 79 is very well deserved.