LA Chargers countdown to 2020: Best number 71 in team history

(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

There are 71 days until we see the LA Chargers back in action.

Counting today, we are officially 71 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 team history to wear each number that coincides with the number of days remaining. Thus far, not a single member of the current roster has earned the honors.

That will continue with the number 71 as the current number 71 is Damion Square. Square has been a solid rotational defensive tackle for the Bolts but he is far from being the best player to wear the number in team history.

In fact, the best player to wear the number in franchise history is not just an all-time great, but he is so great that he is immortalized forever in Canton, Ohio in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The best number 71 in LA Chargers’ history: Fred Dean

The Chargers drafted Fred Dean with the 33rd overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft and he spent six seasons and some change with the Chargers before eventually being traded from the team to the San Francisco 49ers in 1981.

Dean was not a menacing force right away but he was an above-average edge-rusher that showed some really promising signs early in his career. Those signs came to fruition in the late stages of his Chargers career.

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Dean was named a Pro Bowler in 1979 before re-earning the honor in 1980 to go along with an All-Pro nod. He earned both a Pro Bowl and All-Pro nod in his last season with the Chargers, although he spent just three games with the Chargers and 11 with the 49ers.

Dean went on to be a Pro Bowler yet again in 1983.

It can be difficult to gauge just how good Dean was at his peak without stats such as quarterback sacks but we can look at the Approximate Value of his seasons. In his tenure with the Chargers, Dean accumulated a total of 50 AV. For comparison’s sake, the next best number 71 is Joe Milinichik with 17.

Trading Dean was a pretty poor move for the Chargers. The Chargers had to trade him after not paying him the money that he was asking for. While Dean went on to be a key part in two Super Bowl-winning teams with the 49ers, the Chargers could not get over that hump despite having a great offense.

Next. Best number 72 in team history

However, he is still far and away the best player in LA Chargers’ history to wear the number 71 and it is not even close.