Category Archives: Tobin Rote

New Photo Gallery – Tobin Rote Day

Much like Steve Garvey did with the Padres 20 years later, Tobin Rote came to San Diego at the end of his career and made a lasting impression with post-season heroics.  Rote led the 1963 Chargers to their only AFL title, and was on his way to a repeat performance in 1964, before he headed off into pro football’s sunset.  As such, the San Diego Chargers celebrated Tobin Rote Day at their final 1964 home game, a December 13th contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. read more

NFL vs. AFL, or How I Learned to Recognize Fact from Fiction

by Guest Blogger, and author of Remember the AFL, Dave Steidel

MYTH: “AFL players were a bunch of ‘NFL Rejects’”. 

In the NFL they were known as “the Phoenix” players.  Rising from the ashes of one team only to be recreated and hit the highest of highs with another; players who had been put out to pasture or given up on because their time had passed.

One of those names could have been George Blanda, who after becoming the forgotten man in Chicago retired from pro football until he found new life and fame in the AFL by leading the Houston Oilers to three straight championship games including two AFL titles.  Then when Houston changed quarterbacks with a youth movement in 1967 he help defeat his former team in yet another AFL championship game as an Oakland Raider as the league’s leading scorer.  To the NFL media he was just a washed up quarterback trying to catch in a senseless new league. read more

>1963 AFL Most Valuable Players – Lance Alworth, Tobin Rote & Clem Daniels


As if nodding towards the notion that the AFL was a league based on offensive rather than defensive football, the American Football League succeeded in having not one or two, but rather three Most Valuable Player Award recipients in 1963, and all played on the offensive side of the ball.  San Diego Chargers flanker, Lance Alworth, established himself as legitimate pass-catching threat in 1963, his second year in the league.  Alworth bounced back from an injury-shortened 1962 campaign by playing a full 14-game schedule in ’63, and helping to lead the Chargers to victory in the league championship game.  Among Alworth’s statistics for 1963, were 61 receptions for 1,205 yards and 11 touchdowns.  He also returned 11 punts for 120 yards – a 10.9-yard-average.  The United Press International selected Lance Alworth as their AFL Most Valuable Player.    Someone had to throw all of those passes to Lance Alworth in 1963, and the majority of them came from veteran quarterback, Tobin Rote.  Rote came to the Chargers in ’63, after spending successful years in the National and Canadian Football Leagues.  He added veteran leadership to a young Chargers team, and guided them to their lone AFL championship.  Tobin Rote completed 170 of his 268 passes, for 2,510 yards and 20 touchdowns.  His 59.4 completion percentage and 8.78 yards-per-attempt average were both tops in the league.  But the pinnacle of his many successes in ’63 was his implementation of Sid Gillman’s masterful game plan in the championship game, which led to a 51-10 Chargers victory over the Boston Patriots.  Tobin Rote was voted the AFL’s Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press. Under the guidance of rookie head coach, Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders went from a 1-13 record in 1962, to finishing 10-4 in 1963.  The man that was the focus of the Raiders running game was halfback Clem Daniels.  Daniels not only led the AFL with 1,099 rushing yards in 1963, but he averaged an awesome 5.1 yards-per-carry, and 22.8 yards-per-reception as well as hauling in 30 passes for 685 yards, and scoring eight touchdowns.  Clem Daniels was Named as the AFL’s Most Valuable Player by The Sporting News.



>48 Years Ago Today – 1963 AFL Championship Game


This large, framed team photo given to team members and office staff
On January 5, 1964, the San Diego Chargers defeated the Boston Patriots by a score of 51-10 in the 1963 American Football League championship game.  Chargers running back Keith Lincoln cemented his name in the annals of football history by amassing 349 yards of total offense, and scoring on a 67-yard run and a 25-yard pass reception.  In these days pre-merger, Chargers head coach, Sid Gillman, offered to play the NFL champion Chicago Bears in a game to determine the true champions of professional football.  When Bears’ owner, George Halas, refused Gillman’s offer, the Chargers coach  had “World Champions” engraved on his team’s championship rings.
The 1963 Chargers were the first AFL team to be
 featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. 
Much has been said and written about that 1963 Chargers team in the years that have passed.  Sid Gillman protege, Ron Jaworski, did a masterful job of breaking down the Chargers success and Gillman’s game plan for that legendary victory in his book, The Games that Changed the Game (Random House, 2010).  A mythical championship game between the offensively-gifted Chargers and defensively-dominant Bears has been hotly debated by historians.  Lance Alworth, Sid Gillman, Ron Mix, and then-defensive backfield coach Chuck Noll, have since been inducted into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame.  ESPN’s Chris Berman has even jumped into the fray by declaring the AFL Chargers to have the best uniforms in all of pro football history. Perhaps the fact that this remains San Diego’s only major sports championship contributes to the recollections of the 1963 team.  But I think that the team itself is the cause for its own popularity.  Coming off an injury-riddled 4-10 season in 1962, Sid Gillman sequestered his team in the hills of Boulevard, California.  Gillman’s idea was to get his team away from the temptations of city life, and force them to focus on football and bond together as a team.  And so the Chargers spent their 1963 training camp at a dilapidated facility called the Rough Acres Ranch.  What the “Ranch” lacked in air-conditioning and comfort, it made up for with rattlesnakes and grassless practice fields.  But when the Chargers finally came down off the hill, they were primed and ready to play. They ripped through the regular season with an 11-3 record, and secured the AFL Western Division title with a 58-20 victory over the Denver Broncos in a December 22nd game at Balboa Stadium.  Two weeks later, behind a game plan that Gillman himself named “Feast or Famine,” the Chargers decimated the Patriots.  Gillman’s plan, which was heavy on motion, deception, and the use of his tight end, consistently trapped the blitzing Patriots linebacker out of position, and resulted in many plays that went for long yardage and six points.  Tom Addison, the Patriots all-star linebacker, was quoted in Jeff Miller’s AFL classic, Going Long, as saying, “I’ve never been on my knees so much in my life.  I got knocked down on every Goddamn play.”

That kind of domination is rare, especially in a championship game, and in fact it led many people to begin questioning the supposed dominance of the NFL.  Noted football personalities came out on both sides of the issue, some supporting the Chargers while others backed the Bears.  Sadly, that game never came to be, and now, 48 years later, we have nothing but game films and statistics to back up our own beliefs of what might have been in the lightning bolt-clad Chargers had played the Monsters of the Midway…  Oh, and those Chargers rings that already say, “World Champions.” read more

>The Hit Heard ‘Round The World