One of the greatest honors that a player can earn is getting their number retired by a franchise. Right below making it into the Hall of Fame, getting a number retired by a franchise cements a legacy that will quite literally never be matched. As of 2023, the LA Chargers have four numbers that are recognized as officially retired.
Dan Fouts' 14, Lance Alworth's 19, LaDainian Tomlinson's 21 and Junior Seau's 55 are the only numbers that are officially retired by the franchise. That is a smaller number than most other franchises.
However, there are still several other numbers that might not officially be recognized as retired quite yet but definitely will never be handed out by the Bolts again.
Chargers unofficial retired numbers:
17 - Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers is the greatest quarterback in franchise history and it is only a matter of time until the Chargers officially retire his numbers. The 2023 season will be the fourth since Rivers' last played for the Chargers and his third since he last played in the NFL.
Why it has even taken this long is confusing but there is no doubt that Rivers will get his number retired by the Chargers. Perhaps the team is waiting until he gets into the Hall of Fame, which definitely should happen.
18 - Charlie Joiner
It really makes no sense why the Chargers haven't officially retired Charlie Joiner's No. 18 as it is essentially retired by the team anyway. The last person to wear the number is Joiner himself, who last played in 1986.
85 - Antonio Gates
Just like with Rivers, it is only a matter of time until the Chargers officially retire Antonio Gates' number. Gates is one of the best tight ends in NFL history and is the greatest pass-catcher to ever suit up for the Bolts.
Just like Rivers, it would not be surprising if the team is simply waiting until Gates gets into the Hall of Fame. Gates is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2024 so we might only be a year away until he is enshrined in Chargers' history forever.
Several other Chargers numbers should be retired, but aren't
The Chargers really are stingy with retiring numbers. The numbers above are unofficially retired as they have not been given out (and won't be) since those players last wore it. But there are other numbers that the team has had no problems in giving out even if they should be retired.
Ron Mix's 74 was retired and then unretired when he decided to join the Raiders. Storm Norton is the last player to wear it. Kellen Winslow's 80 and Fred Dean's 71 should also be retired as they are both Hall of Famers. Maurice Ffrench was the last player to wear 80 (2022) and Matt Feiler was the last to wear 71 (2022).