Former Chargers DE Earl Faison dies at 77

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers announced Monday the passing of former defensive end Earl Faison. He died at the age of 77.

Faison was a first-round selection by the Chargers in the 1961 AFL draft out of Indiana. At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Faison was named Rookie of the Year and the team’s Most Valuable Player in his first season.

Faison also earned trips to the AFL All-Star game for five straight seasons, beginning his rookie year. He was named the game’s defensive MVP in 1963.

Faison was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1986, becoming the 12th member of the team’s Ring of Honor. He played for San Diego from 1961-66, but a back injury cut short his impressive career.

Nicknamed “Tree” for being strong and sturdy along the defensive front, Faison was considered one of the AFL’s elite pass-rushers during his career. He also recorded five interceptions and two touchdowns for the Chargers.

“On behalf of the Spanos family and the entire Chargers organization, we’d like to express our deepest sympathies to the Faison family,” said Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos in a prepared statement. “I had the privilege of getting to know Earl through the years. He was a consummate gentleman with a booming voice and laugh. His passion for the Chargers and the game of football was unwavering.

“As a member of the original Fearsome Foursome, Earl was an integral part of the Chargers’ dominance in the team’s early years, helping lead the team to two American Football League championship games and winning the AFL title in 1963. His post-football career as an educator is just as accomplished. He will be missed.”