Category Archives: Sid Gillman
The race was on in early 1960, to obtain talent for the newly-formed AFL teams. Securing a veteran quarterback with leadership experience would, of course, have been a primary goal for all teams. At the time, former Chicago Bears QB, George Blanda, was “retired” from football. This did not concern Los Angeles Chargers coach, Sid Gillman, who wrote up the following review of Blanda early in 1960.
I was reading through my Twitter feed the other day when I came across a link to the film above. I thought that I had seen most of the early Chargers stuff out there, but this piece from the Chargers vs. Texans preseason game of 1961 was new to me. This 4.5-minute clip contains a lot of interesting stuff, including sideline interviews, unique camera angles, and some great visuals of Balboa Stadium prior to its complete renovation for the Chargers arrival in ’61.
One of the interesting things about the AFL is the number of great coaches who came up as assistants with AFL teams – Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll, Al Davis, Tom Bass, Bum Phillips, Chuck Knox, John Madden and many more. The most impressive AFL staff, in my mind, is that of the early Chargers. Sid Gillman, Al Davis, Chuck Noll, Jack Faulkner and Joe Madro. Is there another staff in history in which 60% of its members were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Imagine the conversations in coaching meetings…
We all know that the Chargers left Los Angeles after the 1960 season because they couldn’t draw enough fan support to their games. But what does that really mean? At the time, the Coliseum had a seating capacity of more than 100,000. The Chargers averaged fewer than 16,000 fans to each of their home games. Take a look at the accompanying photos to get an idea of the seating bowl during a 1960 Chargers game.
I find AFL team previews to be particularly enjoyable reading, especially now, some 50 years after the fact. This Sports Illustrated preview of the 1966 San Diego Chargers is no different, and in fact, SI did a pretty good job of predicting the challenges that faced the Chargers that season. The team was 5-2-1 after the first eight games, but then lost four of their last six games, and all to division rivals (Denver, Oakland and Kansas City) to finish 7-6-1 and in third place overall in the AFL Western Division.