Chargers retire Lance Alworth's number 19

The San Diego Chargers honored Lance Alworth at halftime of their game against the Buffalo Bills. In a touch of irony, Alworth's number 19 jersey was hoisted up to the rafters next to the Bills logo atop the stadium.

Alworth became just the second player in Chargers' history to have his number retired, joining the number 14 worn by Dan Fouts.

After a standing ovation that lasted two minutes greeted Alworth, he spoke about history – one that is linked closely with San Diego and the Chargers.

"This has to be the greatest moment of my football career," Alworth announced.

The statement alone, coming from a first ballot Hall of Famer, was a testament to his feeling towards the organization, the city and its fans.

"This is a wonderful thing that Dean and his family have done for me. I feel like not only have they done it for me but they have done it for all my compatriots, the guys that played with me and we were in the trenches who are standing behind me. You can't play without a team and some great fans."

Alworth stands first in Chargers lore with 9,584 career receiving yards and 81 touchdowns. He is also third in receptions with 493.

The man affectionately known as "Bambi" thanked John Hadl for introducing him, calling him the best quarterback of his era. Alworth has been lobbying for Hadl to be inducted into the Hall of Fame over the last few years.

Alworth also recognized the other player to wear jersey number 21.

"L.T. is a great football player and I know he is going to bring as much honor as John did."

Alworth was the first AFL player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was named All-AFL seven times and played in seven AFL All-Star games. He also recorded seven 1,000-yard seasons and set a then NFL record with five career 200-yard games.

He caught at least one pass in every AFL game he played, including a then-record 96 straight regular-season games and 105 in a row, if you count two AFL title games and seven All-Star appearances.

"I would like to thank the original guys who started this league, without them we would not be here today. I believe two of them are in the stadium today, Barron Hilton and Ralph Wilson (Bills owner). I am really happy they are here today but we want to win anyway. We do owe a tribute to them."

Alworth got his wish on Sunday as the Chargers pummeled the Bills 48-10 and used an aerial assault, a tribute to Alworth's game.

"I am glad we put on a show for him," said LaDainian Tomlinson. "It was his day and what better honor can you have than to have your jersey retired in the National Football League."

Alworth played with the Chargers from 1962 to 1970 before being traded to Dallas.

His best season came in 1965, when he caught 69 passes for 1,602 yards and 14 touchdowns, while averaging a remarkable 23.2 yards per reception.

"I didn't get to say good bye in the latter part of my career and it has been always something that has been missing. I want you all to know how much you have meant to me. Thank you. I love you all."

"I thought the recognition of Lance was great," Marty Schottenheimer said. "I remember how good he was. He was a great player. It is terrific that we can take those powder blues and perform well on a day that the day when to Lance and all of our alumni."

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