It is safe to say that the 2023 season is going to be Austin Ekeler's last with the LA Chargers. After failed extension talks before the season, and a new cleaning of the house at head coach and in the front office, the Bolts and Ekeler will part ways heading into 2024.
As great as Ekeler has been for the Chargers in the past, the team cannot make future decisions based on rear-view mirror results. The fact of the matter is that Ekeler is nearing 30 years old, which is a bad benchmark for running backs and has seen his production dip already. Ekeler's 44.7 rushing success rate rankings 25th among the 33 running backs with at least 140 carries this season, via Stathead.
Ekeler has done many great things for the Chargers organization both on the field and off the field. He will be remembered fondly by Chargers fans, even if his last season was soured a bit. He will also be remembered fondly by the fantasy football community, as Ekeler's run at the top definitely won many fantasy football leagues.
Ekeler has leaned into his role in the fantasy football community and unfortunately for him, it could make his final lasting image as a Charger look drastically different. Before the season, Ekeler declared that he would shave his eyebrows if both David Montgomery and Jahymr Gibbs finished as top 15 fantasy running backs. As it stands right now, by his requirements, Gibbs ranks 10th and Montgomery ranks 14th.
Austin Ekeler's lasting Chargers image may be without eyebrows thanks to Ben Johnson
Austin Ekeler didn't say when exactly he would shave his eyebrows if this happened but it would likely be in conjunction with his fantasy football podcast. Either way, though, the fantasy season ends in Week 17 so there is a real chance that Ekeler could take the field in Week 18 for the Chargers with no eyebrows.
A fun wrinkle to this entire situation is who might be to blame for Ekeler having to do this unique punishment. Montgomery and Gibbs are both top-15 fantasy running backs thanks to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, who has mastered the two-back running game to a tee in Detroit.
Johnson is one of the front-running candidates for the vacant head coaching job in Los Angeles right now. Johnson has been revolutionary for the Lions offense and the sky is the limit with Justin Herbert under center.
Ekeler may never play for Johnson if he indeed leaves LA after the 2023 season but the irony is all the same. Johnson would represent a new era of Chargers football, and he would also leave a hilarious lasting legacy on the previous era via Ekeler's eyebrows.