Currently, in the “Great Depression” of NFL special teams play, I often find myself reminiscing of times when I admired these gallants of war who entered the game every once in a while for a few seconds of dominance. However, the times have changed. I now find myself quivering in fear anytime the Chargers special teams trots onto the field. Whether it’s one of the 1,000 kickers that have rotated in the past few years preparing to cost us yet another game, or our punt team gearing up to allow another touchdown, I don’t know if I can ever learn to trust again. However, for now, let’s take a look at some former Chargers special teams stars who provided a positive spark rather than a negative cloud hanging over the team.
Mike Scifres: The San Diego Chargers punter for 13 straight seasons, Scifres became a beloved figure among all Chargers fans. Able to leave the ball in the air for what felt like forever, Scifres obtained one of the best hang-times in the NFL. Additionally, having one of the biggest legs in the NFL, Scifres averaged 45.2 yards per punt, good enough for 17th all time. Also booting a 72-yard punt just one year before the end of his Chargers tenure, Scifres is also the greatest kicker in Chargers history. And honestly, I would take Scifres in a heartbeat over any of the Chargers kickers the past two seasons. Below is Scifres career stats:
Punting- 756 punts, 34,152 yards, 45.2 yards per punt
Kicking- 1-1 field goal, 40 yards, 100% field goal percentage, 3-3 extra points, 100% extra point percentage
Passing- 1-3, 33.3% completion percentage, 28 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception
Darren Sproles: Touted as one of the best return men in NFL history, Darren Sproles was easily the best return man the Chargers have ever possessed. Returning over 370 punts/kicks for the Chargers over a five-season stint, Sproles averaged just over eight yards per punt return and 25.18 yards per kick return. Also scoring three total return touchdowns while with San Diego, Sproles always had big-play potential when on the field. However, Sproles intelligence was just as good as his physical abilities. Knowing when and when not to return a punt (*cough* JJ Jones, Travis Benjamin) along with his ability to take care of the ball and not give the opponent free possessions (*COUGH* Travis Benjamin, JJ Jones) is a much bigger component to a teams success than you’d think. Below are some of Sproles other stats outside of punt/kick returns:
Rushing- 249 rushes, 1,154 yards, six touchdowns, 4.6 yards per carry
Receiving- 146 receptions, 1,400 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns, 9.5 yards per reception
Kassim Osgood: Personally, Kassim Osgood is probably my favorite Chargers special teams player of all-time. Whenever an NFL player is sent to the pro bowl three times in four seasons because of their excellence as a contain man on the punt and kick team, they should automatically be considered one of the best special teams players of all-time. Because in seven years with the Chargers, Osgood recorded nearly 100 tackles (all on special teams) along with a forced fumble. Oh yeah, and all three of his pro bowl appearances were from his time in San Diego. Considering how bad our punt containment has been the past few years, Osgood would be the best addition the Chargers could ask for right now. Well, that and a consistent kicker. Below are some of the other ways Osgood contributed during his time with the Bolts.
Receiving- 33 receptions, 647 receiving yards, 19.6 yards per reception, four touchdowns
Rushing- one rush, four yards, zero touchdowns, 4.0 yards per carry
Travis Baker is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @RiversIsMobile