Chargers Legends: Leslie O’Neal


Leslie O’Neal was one of the greatest defensive players to ever wear the Bolt. He was one of the biggest reasons why the Chargers made it to to their lone Super Bowl appearance in 1994. He ranks 14th all-time in career sacks at 132.5, which is tied with Hall of Famer, Lawrence Taylor. Through his 13-year career, he always seemed to find his way into the back field. He exemplifies what teams want in a pass rusher.

College Years

Leslie O’Neal was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended Oklahoma State University in 1982 where he was a 2x All-American. He had 34 career sacks and 47 tackles for loss. He also ranks 1st for single season sacks with 16. In 1984, he was voted the Big-Eight Defensive Player of the year. He ranks 4th all-time in the Oklahoma State College record book in career tackles at 393 and 1st for sacks. He was voted to the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame and would become a First Round Draft Pick in 1985.


Professional Career

The Chargers drafted Leslie O’Neal with the 8th-overall pick that year and would you give the Chargers 9 solid years of terrific production. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year with 12.5 sacks. As a Charger, O’Neal ranks 1st with 105.5 sacks. He also added another 597 total tackles. For his career, he is tied with Lawrence Taylor for 132.5 career sacks, and if you count his rookie season, he actually has 12.5 more. He is part of the Chargers Hall of Fame.

It is somewhat surprising that O’Neal is not in the NFL Hall of Fame, because he has the resume to be there. He made 6 Pro Bowls and 3 All-Pro Teams. His statistics rank right up with all the other pass rusher Hall of Famers, yet doesn’t have the Super Bowls, even though he made one with the Chargers in a grueling loss to the San Francisco 49ers. O’Neal finished his career playing two seasons each for the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a very consistent player through out his career, and should eventually be enshrined in a gold jacket.


O’Neal retired in 1999, but is still very much involved in the community. He is often brought in as a athletic speaker, but his services do not come cheap. It’ll cost between $5000-10,000 depending on the occasion, but his insights over a 14-year career are priceless. He will occasionally make an appearance on NFL Network and CBS.

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