Chargers History

LA Chargers countdown: Donnie Edwards the best to wear No. 59

San Diego Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
San Diego Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
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With 59 days left before the Chargers season begins, let’s look at the best player in team history to wear No. 59, linebacker Donnie Edwards.

Time is quickly counting down between now and when the Los Angeles Chargers kick off their 2020 campaign. Bolt Beat has now worked its way into the 50s, both in terms of days left before the Week 1 opener against the Cincinnati Bengals and the daily series of best players in team history to don that corresponding number.

So, with 59 days left before the season begins, it’s only natural to name the best No. 59 in Chargers history.

The best No. 59 in Los Angeles Chargers history: Donnie Edwards

Linebacker Pete Barnes gets a small hat tip for being on the list of candidates. But the best player in franchise history to wear No. 59 is a no-brainer, linebacker Donnie Edwards.

The Southern California native had quite the collegiate career at UCLA, finishing with 38 tackles for a loss and 22.5 sacks, which ranked third and fifth best in Bruins history at the time. And Edwards’ transition to the NFL ranks was pretty smooth, too. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Edwards in Round 4 of the 1996 NFL Draft, and the 6-foot-2 linebacker became a starter his second season.

And while Edwards spent eight of his 13 pro years with the Chiefs, his overall body of work was nonetheless impressive:

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 7/16/2020.

Edwards returned to his hometown team on a free-agent deal in 2002, and he ended up making his first and only Pro Bowl after putting together an amazing season on a San Diego defense that didn’t have a lot to brag about otherwise.

And while that campaign was impressive enough, one could argue Edwards’ 2004 efforts were even more notable, as he led the league with 152 tackles for a 12-4 Chargers team that won the AFC West that season.

Edwards signed on for a second stint with Kansas City in 2007, ending a remarkable five-year tenure with the Bolts. And while the majority of his career was spent with the Chargers’ division rivals, Edwards’ 543 solo tackles currently ranks seventh best in franchise history, while his 197 assists with the team rank No. 1, four above the Hall of Famer, Junior Seau.

Donnie Edwards’ post-Chargers, Chiefs life

Edwards has gone onto have quite the post-NFL career, too. A major philanthropist, Edwards became involved with World War II history, thanks to the service of his grandfather, and spent much of his time connecting with veterans and sharing their stories.

This ultimately led to one of Edwards’ biggest projects, the Best Defense Foundation, a non-profit organization he founded to help veterans return to the battlefields they saw across the globe.

Edwards broke down his involvement with his foundation back in 2018 with NFL Network’s Good Morning Football:

Not surprisingly, Edwards was the 2019 recipient of the NFL’s Salute to Service award.

Edwards made a huge difference on the field. But what ensures he holds onto the spot as the best Chargers player to wear No. 59 is his work off the field, too. Those efforts are just as commendable and noteworthy.

30 greatest players in Chargers franchise history. Next

Luckily for this writer, I’m fortunate to be able to call him a good friend. I can personally attest to him being an even better person than he was a football player.

And he was pretty darned good on the field, too.

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