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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fred Dean headed for Chargers Hall of Fame

Chargers defensive end Fred Dean achieves the NFL's highest alter when he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 2 in Canton, Ohio. But Dean isn't looking past another special day for him when he returns to San Diego a couple of weeks before his trip to Canton.
Chargers President Dean Spanos announced today that the top pass rusher of his era will be inducted in the Chargers Hall of Fame. Spanos will make the announcement when the Bolts host Sports at Lunch at 11:30 a.m. today at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park."The Chargers Hall of Fame is a great honor for me," Dean said from his home in Louisiana. "So many of my teammates have made it into the Chargers Hall of Fame, and now I get to join them. It's very touching to me."The Chargers will officially induct Dean as their lone 2008 inductee at halftime when the team play the New England Patriots on Sunday night, Oct. 12 at Qualcomm Stadium. Dean's name and number will be added to those names that ring the stadium."I can't really describe what it's like to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Chargers Hall of Fame in the same year," Dean said. "It's like having the best of both worlds."As a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, Dean joins 12 members of the Air Coryell Chargers previously inducted.That group includes quarterback Dan Fouts (1993), former Grambling wide receiver Charlie Joiner (1993), head coach Don Coryell (1994), offensive tackle Russ Washington(1995), tight end Kellen Winslow (1995), kicker Rolf Benirschke (1997), defensive tackle Gary Johnson (1999), offensive guard Doug Wilkerson(2000), wide receiver Wes Chandler (2001), defensive tackle Louie Kelcher (2003), center Don Macek (2004) and offensive guard Ed White(2004)."Those teams had a family bond," Dean said. "Especially the guys I played in the defensive line - Louie Kelcher, Wilbur Young, Charles DeJurnett, Gary Johnson and Leroy Jones. And guys on the offensive line like Russ Washington and Doug Wilkerson to name a couple. Those are the guys I remember when I think about the Chargers. There was good competition between the offensive and defensive lines."Dean played for the Chargers as a 230-pound defensive end from 1975 to 1981. Although he was undersized for the position, he beat offensive tackles to get to the quarterback with his quickness and exceptional strength for a man his size.Dean, now 56, returned home to Louisiana after his playing days and is an associate minister at New Hebron Baptist Church in Arcadia.He joined the Chargers as a second-round draft pick in 1975 out of Louisiana Tech. He was drafted as an outside linebacker, but since he played defensive end in college, he told the Chargers' coaches he wasmore comfortable with his hand on the ground as a defensive end.Tommy Prothro and his staff subsequently returned Dean to defensive end. Although sacks didn't become an official NFL statistic until 1982, if numbers from the defensive stats compiled by teams are used, Dean iscredited with 100 sacks in 141 games in his career with the Chargers and San Francisco 49ers.In 1978, when Coryell replaced Prothro early in the season and led the Chargers to a winning record, Dean recorded 15.5 sacks. He had nine in 1979 and 10.5 in 1980 when the Chargers won AFC West titles, includingadvancing to the AFC Championship game in the 1980 season.Dean was traded to the 49ers early in the 1981 season when he was locked in a contract dispute with the late Gene Klein, who owned the team until Alex Spanos purchased the franchise in 1984.Dean's most productive season was 1983 when he finished with 17.5 sacks, including six in a game against the New Orleans Saints. He helped the 49ers win two Super Bowl titles in Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX."Those Chargers players I played with deserved to win a Super Bowl," Dean said. "But the ball bounced the wrong way and it didn't work out for us.”At the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies, Dean's Class of 2008 includes Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, Redskins wide receiver Art Monk, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Emmitt Thomas, New England Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett and Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Gary Zimmerman.The Pro Football Hall of Famers from the Chargers that Dean is joining in Canton are Fouts, Joiner, Lance Alworth, Sid Gillman, Ron Mix and Kellen Winslow."It's hard for me when the Chargers and 49ers play," Dean said. "It's like a father watching two sons playing against each other. But even if I didn't get a Super Bowl ring with the Chargers, it was a good feeling for all of us playing on those Chargers teams."