Why isn't Lowe in the San Diego Hall of Champions?

Paul Lowe was an original Los Angeles Charger and one of the team's brightest stars in the early days of the old American Football League.

Lowe, a onetime track star and street kid from Watts, ran like a thoroughbred with a high-stepping running style, he appeared to gallop.

"I was a trackman, said Lowe, who attended Oregon State University, "a high hurdle champion. That's where I got my style from with the high knee action. I only weighed 170 pounds, so I wasn't going to run over anybody."

Lowe left Oregon State before his senior season to turn pro. He went to a San Francisco 49'ers tryout camp, but despite a dazzling 105-yard kickoff return in an exhibition game, Lowe was cut because of his slight build.

When the AFL started in 1960, he was working for Barron Hilton's Carte Blanche offices in Los Angeles.

"Frank Leahy was the Chargers GM and found out I was working there and got in touch and asked if I wanted to play football and I told him yes."

Through a weight-lifting regimen, Lowe added 10 pounds to his frame and bulked up to 180 pounds.

As he had with San Francisco, Lowe returned his first kickoff with the Chargers 105-yards for a score.

Lowe became part of a great offense that was orchestrated to perfection by Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman.

"He (Gillman) was like a well-oiled machine, when he got on that drawing board," Lowe explained. "You wondered how he knew so much? We stuck to the game plan and you see how we turned out."

The Chargers played one season in Los Angeles and the moved to San Diego in 1961. They played in five AFL title games in the first seven years of the AFL and won the 1963 championship, routing Boston 51-10.

"They compared us with the 1963 NFL champion Chicago Bears," Lowe recalled. "I thought we could have beaten anyone. We had great spirit and we had the players to go along with it."

Lowe, like other AFL players is fiercely proud of what they accomplished.

"It was amazing, really what we did do and how we stuck together," Lowe stated. "I was elated and I would have played for free, just to be part of the organization."

When the AFL New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs finally defeated the Baltimore Colts and the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl, AFL veterans like Lowe were ecstatic.

"We felt like we saw our younger brother fight the big brother and throw a vicious blow that knocked them out," Lowe recalled. "That's how we felt. We were all happy as long as the AFL won, we were proud."

After being traded to Kansas City, Lowe spent the 1968 and 1969 seasons with the Chiefs.

"I was there with KC when they won the Super Bowl," Lowe said. "I was speechless; it was just a thrill, a great thrill."

As Lowe looks back at his career, he feels he was never given his due.

"That's true, because Sid was a great coach and I admire him for all that," Lowe explained. "For some reason he never let me fulfill my potential. He was always looking over my shoulder and I wasn't one of his favorite players. Maybe it was the way I walked or looked or whatever. But my ability spoke for itself."

Lowe is retired and still resides in San Diego.

The San Diego record book still has Lowe's name prominently mentioned as he remains atop the All-Time Charger rushing list with 4,963 yards. Lowe left one mark that will stand for history-a career average of 4.88 yards per carry that makes him the most efficient running back in AFL history. He was also voted to the All-Time AFL team in voting by AFL members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Selection Committee and a panel of writers and broadcasters.

Lowe is still not receiving his just due to this day. For some reason he has been excluded from the San Diego Hall of Champions.

Many former Chargers have already been inducted including many of Lowe's former teammates. Here is a list: Russ Washington, Rolf Benirschke, Earl Faison, Kellen Winslow, Dan Fouts, Gary Garrison, Charlie Joiner, John Hadl, Ron Mix, Lance Alworth and Keith Lincoln.

To be eligible for consideration, an athlete must either have developed his/her skills in San Diego County or have played for a San Diego County team or club. They must be retired from professional sports or over 40 years old.

The Hall of Champions honors outstanding athletes from San Diego who starred elsewhere and those who achieved stardom for local teams. It began in 1953 and now includes 96 members, representing 20 sports.

The question begs an answer - why isn't Paul Lowe in The San Diego Hall of Champions? His credentials certainly meet all of the criteria.

"I still feel bad," Lowe explained. "Would you believe I'm not in Hall of Champions? Everybody from those great Charger teams but me. I'm in Canton on the All-Time AFL team, being 66-years old I wonder if I'll ever get in there. I have asked the committee members and the PR guy for the Chargers and they make excuses."

It is an oversight - a travesty if you will that Paul Lowe is not in the San Diego Hall of Champions.


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