Lance Alworth remains one of the Chargers’ most popular players ever. While playing for the Bolts from 1962 through 1970, he caused many to regard him as one of football’s all-time best pass receivers. In 1978, he became the first player from the defunct American Football League to be enshrined in Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was selected to the All-AFL team seven consecutive years and was named to the all-time All-AFL team.
His popularity with the national television audience could even be considered as one factor behind the 1966 announcement of the AFL-NFL merger. When Lance signed with the Chargers back in 1962 as an All-America halfback from the University of Arkansas, a heated competition was broiling between the AFL and the NFL to sign the top collegiate players. The Chargers’ signing of Alworth was a major coup for the AFL. And the man who signed Alworth for San Diego? Beloved assistant Charger coach Al Davis, the man Bolt fans later loved to hate.
His nickname was “Bambi” and it was a perfect fit. “He runs like a deer” was the assessment of a teammate, watching him dart away from potential tacklers like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. His graceful running style and jumping ability when settling under a long John Hadl pass furthered the image. Lance had plenty of speed, too, as a 9.6 and 21.2 sprinter for the Arkansas track team. Even his sister was a Mississippi prep record holder in the sprints.
Lance was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1977, the first player so honored. Another honor he still enjoys boasting about is winning a Mexican fishing tournament by boating a 456-pound black marlin.