Let’s take a moment to remember that President’s Day isn’t all about shopping for a new car or sleeping in this morning. Originally commemorating our first president’s birthday, President’s Day now celebrates all of our heads of state. So in that vein we’ve compiled a list of the top presidential Chargers.
The rules of the list are simple. To qualify share a last name with one of our presidents. While there are only 44 presidential names to choose from there are some limitations to this list, (and there’s yet to be a President Seau or a Commander in Chief Tomlinson) there are a number of Bolts who meet the requirements. Forty-nine Chargers fit the bill, sharing the last names of presidents from our first (running back Joe Washington) to our second most recent (linebacker Lew Bush) and many in between.
So cue up “Hail to the Chief”, put on a stove top hat and find out who are our top five presidential Chargers.
5. Vincent Jackson
Sharing the same name as our 7th president, Vincent Jackson was a dominant wide receiver in his time here in San Diego. Jackson is 8th all-time in receiving yards and tied for seventh in career touchdowns with the Chargers.
4. Rodney Harrison
You’ll have to decide which presidential Harrison our #4 ranked Charger reminds you of (the fighter William Henry or the Midwesterner Benjamin) the most. Either way, Harrison was the defensive commander in chief during his time playing safety for the Chargers. The two-time Pro Bowler is 6th all-time in team history with 345 interception return yards and two pick sixes. The safety is also third all-time in interceptions, with nearly as many picks (26) as days that William Henry Harrison spent as president (32).
3. Keith Lincoln
Keith Lincoln began his career with the Chargers two score and 13 years ago (1961) and is still a prominent part of the Chargers record books. The running back is 7th all-time in Chargers history for career rushing yards with 2,698. Lincoln was also a special teams standout, returning a kickoff 103 yards against the New York Titans in 1962, tied for the second longest in team history. He was added to the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1980.
2. Gary “Big Hands” Johnson
Coming into the league six years after President Lyndon Johnson left the White House, Gary Johnson’s credentials speak for themselves. Third all-time in career sacks. Single season sack record with 17.5. Four straight Pro Bowls from 1979 to 1982. “Big Hands” was one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL over his nine years with the Chargers. The defensive tackle was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1999.
1. Russ Washington
To tweek a few words spoken about our first President, Russ Washington is first in war, first in peace and first on our list. Naturally taken first overall in the 1968 draft, the tackle out of Missouri was a rock on the Chargers offensive line for 15 seasons, tied for second most in team history. His longevity with the organization is legendary with Washington as the Chargers record holder for games started with 148 and second in games played with 178. The five-time pro bowler was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1995.
Finally an honorary mention for offensive tackle Courtney Van Buren, who was with the Chargers from 2003 to 2004. I always want to make sure I stay on the good side of the Van Buren Boys.