LA Chargers countdown to 2020: Best number 65 in team history
By Jason Reed
We are 65 days away until the LA Chargers are scheduled to be back in action.
Counting today, there are officially 65 days until the LA Chargers‘ scheduled Week 1 matchup against first overall pick Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals. That is, as long as the 2020 NFL season goes as planned, which certainly is not a guarantee.
To count down the potential 2020 season, we have been naming the best players in Chargers’ history to wear each number that coincides with the number of days remaining until that Week 1 matchup.
Ironically, the only current Charger that has been named is not even a great one. Sam Tevi is the greatest number 69 in team history and he probably won’t even be starting for the team in 2020 unless Bryan Bulaga or Trey Pipkins get hurt.
Tevi will remain as the only current Charger thus far to earn the honor as the current number 65, as listed on the LA Chargers roster, is Koda Martin. Martin has been a practice squad player for the entirety of his two-year NFL career.
The best number 65 in team history is still not particularly great, as the honor goes to a center who had longevity more than anything with the team.
The best number 65 in LA Chargers’ history: Sam Gruneisen
Sam Gruneisen began his career with the Chargers after being selected in the 25th round of the 1962 AFL Draft. Not much was expected out of Gruneisen after being selected so late in the draft and early on in his career, he did not contribute much to the Chargers.
He started a total of 10 games in his first three seasons and was nothing more than a depth option for the Bolts. However, in his fourth season, he was given the starting center duties and that is when he racked up the career Approximate Value that put him at number one on the list.
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Gruneisen started every single game for the Chargers at center for the next six seasons. He was never spectacular and never earned any sort of season accolade, but he was an above-average, serviceable center that was reliable and stayed on the field.
He also spent time on the defensive side of the ball as well at linebacker. He did not start often on the defensive end, though.
Gruneisen appeared in only nine games in 1971 and 1972m starting two. He spent one more season in the league with the Houston Oilers, appearing in 10 games and starting nine. However, at that point, Gruneisen was a grizzled veteran who was below average.
Gruneisen went on to coach after his career, coaching in college, the United States Football League and even the NFL. His only NFL coaching gig was with the Los Angeles Raiders as he served as the linebackers coach from 1987 to 1990.