It has occurred to me that many Chargers fans are not aware of their teams history. The Chargers have a lot of it and I am here to help teach newer fans of some of the older Chargers. The Chargers team dates all the way back to 1960, when they were 1 of 8 franchises to help start the American Football League (AFL) to rival the National Football League (NFL). In 1970, these leagues merged together to become the NFL as we know it today. Ron Mix was part of the first inaugural season of the Los Angeles Chargers, was the first player to have his number retired, and can be considered the first great Charger.
Ron Mix was California born and raised. He attended Hawthorne High School in Los Angeles, which was predominantly Jewish, and would later go to college at the University of Southern California. Football in the 1960’s was a run-heavy game, and Mix played a key role as an Offensive Tackle in USC’s 8-2 record. He also played on the same team with Willie Wood, the first African-American quarterback to play in the PAC-10 and the first African-American Head Coach in the CFL. That season, USC had 480 rushing attempts for 2,242 yards, compared to the 51 total quarterback completions for 799 yards. Mix, for his efforts, would be awarded 1st-team All-American, All-Pacific Coast, All-Big-5 and USC Lineman of the Year. His efforts would also make him a First-Round pick in both the 1960 NFL and AFL Draft.
Ron Mix was drafted both by the Baltimore Colts and the Boston Patriots in the 1960 respective NFL and AFL drafts. He was traded before ever playing a snap in Boston and chose the Chargers, because they offered him a better contract and he only expected to play long enough to “get a start in life, just a year or two.” After a few seasons, Mix’s love for the game grew and grew. In 142 career games, Mix would have a total of 2 holding penalties, which is a metric that is unheard of. He played under Head Coach, Sid Gillman, and along-side other Charger greats, such as QB John Hadl, RB Paul Lowe, FB Keith Lincoln, WR Lance Alworth and OG Walt Sweeney.
He was nicknamed the Intellectual Assassin for the way he approached the game of football and his contributions as a writer for Sports Illustrated. The 6’4, 250 pounder would go on to play 11 seasons of professional football in which he was only part of 1 losing season as a San Diego Charger. Mix was an 8-time All-AFL selection, made 8 All-Star games, won an AFL title and was inducted into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in 1979. That class included Dick Butkus, Yale Lary, and Johnny Unitas for elite company. He is also a member of the All-AFL team. He would play is final season as a Raider, changing his number from #74 (which is retired by the Chargers) to #77.
As great as a player Ron Mix was, he was also an incredible human being. Not many people know that he earned a degree from the University of San Diego Law School while still playing professionally. As a lawyer, Mix defended athletes in cases dealing with workers compensation for injuries. The NFLPA was not what it is now, and there was not much in terms of compensation for many players. He was also a contributor in the African-American movement within professional football. As a caucasian football player in the All-Star game, he joined his African-American teammates in a Civil Rights Boycott in New Orleans, which led to the game moving to Houston.
Ron Mix is an incredible human being, whose contributions to the NFL as we know it today go far beyond the football field. He represented what it meant to be a Charger through and through. He is one of the greats and it has been my pleasure to share with the fans the type of player he was.