Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Drafted in the third round out of the University of Oregon, Fouts helped lead the Chargers to the playoffs from 1979 to 1982 and twice to the AFC title game. Fouts played in the Pro Bowl six times (1979 - 1983 and 1985) and was elected to three. He led the league four times in passing yards; ending his career with over 40,000, the third player to surpass that landmark. Fouts was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Fouts first few years in the league were inauspicious, but with the arrival of Don "Air" Coryell in 1978 the Chargers fortunes turned. Yet it was actually two years earlier, with the arrival of Bill Walsh as the Charger's offensive coordinator, that the seeds of success were planted. Under Coryell, the Chargers were known for the deep passing game and the involvement of the tight end as a key receiver. This required a tough, intelligent quarterback with a strong arm. Fouts filled the bill. In his prime, Fouts was not a mobile quarterback and the deep passing game led to many hits. Fouts ability to take punishment and still play at a very high level is unique. Rarely (never?) using the shotgun, Fouts would drop back from center and look for one of a bevy of great receivers. Wide receiver Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow were the most famous, both now in the Hall of Fame, but John Jefferson and Wes Chandler , among others, were key. Pass protection was also critical for such an offense. The Chargers had a good pass blocking offensive line which included Don Macek , Ed White, and Billy Shields .
Yet the Chargers never went to the Super Bowl even with the powerful and innovative passing offense led by Fouts. Usually this is attributed to poor defense—yet the Chargers defense led the league in 1978. In later years the defense was not as stellar, but the running game became far better. The defense was great when the passing game was just starting to gel, and as the offense became truly great, the defense was slipping a notch from championship form. Many critics, however, have insisted that the team in general - and according to some of them at least, Fouts in particular - choked in big games, especially postseason games.
Fouts' jersey number, 14, is the only one retired by the Chargers.
Currently, Dan Fouts enjoys a second career, as a sportscaster for ABC.
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