Gold Jacket Spotlight: Dan Fouts ‘had to play quarterback’

Bob Fouts, father of Pro Football Hall of Famer (Class of 1993) DAN FOUTS and a former play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco 49ers, once said that the only advice he ever gave his son was that, if Dan was going to play football, he should play quarterback.

Good advice.

The elder Fouts observed: “What sets Dan apart is simply his determination. He was just driven and dedicated.

Self-motivated indeed, Dan Fouts said, “Nobody else can push you as hard as you can push yourself to be as prepared as you can be and to be as good as you can be.”

These abilities led Fouts from success on the court and in the classroom at the University of Oregon to a stellar 15-year career with the San Diego Chargers.

Fouts, the San Diego Chargers’ “Air Coryell” offense pilot, lands in this week’s Gold Jacket Spotlight.

After Fouts set 19 school records while at Oregon, the Chargers selected him in the third round of the 1973 NFL Draft. His Fouts and Ducks teammate Ahmad Rashad (then Bobby Moore) was a member of the University of Oregon Hall of Fame Charter Class of 1992.

While the Chargers struggled during Fouts’ early years, the appointment of Don Coryell as head coach led to rapid improvement and the installation of a passing-focused offensive system that would result in record-breaking performances for Fous and the team.

A 1979 Sports Illustrated article proclaimed, “The Chargers’ complicated offense places unusual demands on the quarterback, and coach Don Coryell is confident that Fouts is the only man to lead it.”

In that article, Coryell offered, “We only do what we do because of Dan. He has such a flexible mind. But he’s very, very, smart and he’s extremely competitive and mentally strong.

While leading Coryell’s offense, Fouts led the NFL in passing yardage four consecutive years (1979-1982) as he headed for 43,040 career passing yards.

Considered the AFC Player of the Year by UPI in 1979, Fouts was named NFL MVP by the Pro Football Writers of America in 1982 and was a member of the NFL All-Decade Team Second Team of the 1980s.

“He’s (Dan) the best. In my coaching or playing career, I’ve never faced a better quarterback,” former Cleveland Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “He’s such a great competitor, such a great talent. I don’t know if there has ever been a better one. .”

The crazies appeared in the 1980 and 1981 AFC Championship Games, the latter being one of the most memorable championship games in NFL history, as was the previous AFC Divisional Playoff game. that 1981 title match.

The Chargers and Miami Dolphins faced off in an epic overtime game in that 1981 Divisional Round in the sweltering heat and humidity of South Florida. Battling dehydration and exhaustion, the Chargers prevailed 41-38 in overtime.

Heat and humidity were certainly not issues the following week for the AFC Championship game in Cincinnati, aptly named the “Freezer Bowl.” With the wind chill temperature reaching minus-59 degrees (nearly 140 degrees difference from the Miami game), the Bengals defeated the Chargers 27-7.

Fouts was selected to six Pro Bowls in seven years and, at the time of his retirement, held or shared 42 Chargers records. In 2009, fans chose Fouts as the “greatest Charger of all time” while voting for the Chargers 50th Anniversary team.

Fouts’ Chargers jersey was retired in 1988, the first jersey retired in team history, and it was added to the San Diego Sports Association (formerly San Diego Hall of Champions) in 1989, at the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in 1993 and the State of Oregon Hall of Fame in 1992.

Fatherly guidance, self-motivation and an aggressive offensive strategy coalesced to produce a Hall of Fame career for Dan Fouts.