(Article originally written for/on rockthebolt.com on: March 2, 2012)
These past couple of days have been tough for Kris Dielman, no doubt. The lead up to this announcement has been tough on us fans as well. Kris has always been an anchor for the Chargers. Not only on the offensive line, but for the organization as well. He represents countless core players that have helped and shaped the organization, and making the Chargers into one of the top contenders in the league year in and year out. He is the perfect example of what other players coming into the league and joining the Chargers should look at in terms of how to be a successful football player. He has shown that if you work hard and have fun doing what you love, no matter the amount of money, you will leave a mark in this league and a lasting impression on the players you go into battle with every week. He proved that by working hard you will get noticed and recognized by the league, your teammates and the fans. He showed that he didn’t need to have all that flash and a one-man-show. He allowed his plays on the field and the bonds he made with his teammates to earn him the respect he deserves and gave everyone a solid foundation to build on to keep going. The fact that he was consistent and successful at his craft, and strived to continue that performance every season. That held more weight in the end and for that, he will always be remembered as one of the greatest Charger players in history.
Kris has given us fans so many lasting memories over his nine years here in San Diego and Charger fans around the world that will stick with us forever. That memorable 2006 season when his favorite type of offense to run was front and center with the run game and the dominance of his play along with that great OLine blocking for who would become the rushing title holder and the MVP of the league, LaDainian Tomlinson. Now think back to that game when Tomlinson broke the touchdown record, and what he said after the game. After the last touchdown before the one that broke the record he told the OLine guys and teammates to join me him in the endzone. LT knew he was not the MVP and he knew the guys up front were the MVPs that year. He wanted to share what all of them had accomplished together as one solid unit gone into battle week after week having each other’s back in the trenches. Kris was part of that MVP line that will go down in Chargers history and a shining moment for us fans that we will never forget.
Kris and the OLine set the tone for how the team carried itself and how they played each week. He and the others were the true quarterback of the Chargers. He and his friends on the front line protected each other in battle and knocked out anyone who would try to break that bond. As Philip Rivers told the story of what would happen before each game, you can see that bond that is so strong nothing can break it. “Before each game, I usually give the guys on the OLine a head-butt before we hit the field. I would hit each guy, but Kris would pull me in tight and say, ‘LEAD US!’” Well Kris, you and your friends on the OLine are the ones who led this team year in and year out. You will always be remembered as a leader of the Chargers and a fan favorite. From all of us Charger fans around the world we say, “THANK YOU for an awesome nine years! You are one of the greats to ever wear those Lightning Bolts! Thank you for the great memories. Thank you for leaving an impression that will last forever.
Below are excerpts of what Dielman’s teammates had to say about him (read the article in its entirety here):
Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter: “I think he epitomizes the old-school, self-made player. Just a tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar type guy. And he had all those other things that didn’t take talent like toughness, work ethic and dependability. He was really, really smart and he combined all those things to be the player that he was. He had everything in a player that you could want… He was really an easy guy to coach. I’ll miss the attitude that he brought to the meeting room, to practice and to the game. There’s a lot of guys who are tough, but Kris was intimidating. Guys didn’t want to mess with him. He intimidated his opponent and he did it to the point where the guy he was battling didn’t want to deal with him anymore.”
C Nick Hardwick: “It has been an honor to play next to Kris for so many years. His loyalty and toughness gave me and the guys who played with him a sense of security, knowing that we had the baddest guy on the field. And we knew nobody wanted to find out how bad a dude he was…. He taught us about loyalty, will power and friendship. I will certainly miss being in the huddle standing next to my best friend and personal protector.”
RT Jeromey Clary: “He’s one of the best offensive linemen I’ve ever played with and one of the best I’ve ever watched. It’s been an honor to work with the guy. He’s an extremely talented guy and works hard. It’s amazing to come in on Mondays and you’d watch film and some of the stuff he would do, you’d just go, ‘I can’t believe that this guy is doing this kind of stuff to other NFL football players. He did some stuff that just was unbelievable and we truly enjoyed working with him and I’m really, really happy that he was on our team most of the time, because if I was a D-lineman I wouldn’t want to face him on Sundays and I’m sure a lot of people we played against didn’t really want to have to deal with him either. He was a high-motor guy who was extremely strong and had a lot of talent. There are a lot of things there with that combination that made him a very dangerous football player.”
Head Coach Norv Turner: “Kris has been a great player for the Chargers from the moment he was inserted into the lineup. He’s one of the most competitive, physical and dependable players I have ever been around.”
QB Philip Rivers: “As a player, you wish you had 53 Kris Dielmans on your team, just because of how much he cared and how hard he played. We won a bunch of games because of him. He had a lot to do with our success offensively.
“I love the guy and I loved playing with him. I’ll always have great memories of him being right there with me at left guard and us being out there playing together. He meant a great deal to this team when he was here and he was a guy that earned everything he got. I’m not talking financially. He earned the position he got as a Pro Bowl left guard, one of the best guards in professional football. He came here as a free agent defensive lineman and worked and worked and worked to get where he was.
“He loved being a teammate. You always appreciate those kind of guys and he was one of them. As a teammate, you wouldn’t want anybody else. That’s the kind of teammate you want playing in front of you as a quarterback. What a presence he had in that huddle. He’s been described as a nasty player, but to me what stood out was that he played offensive line the way it’s supposed to be played. He played to the whistle and after the whistle and he played as hard as he could. He played the way you’d play in the back yard and that’s the way I’ve always tried to play. He did that at his position.
RB Ryan Mathews: “Coming in as a rookie, he really helped me out a lot. He showed me that he really cared and he really believed in me. He was probably the first guy that I clicked with, one of the first linemen to accept me into the group of guys… He’s so tough and he’s so aggressive. He loves to play the game of football. You can just tell he was born to play. Everything he did, he did it to the best of his ability. He made sure that he was doing everything right.
“I’m going to miss him a lot. I have a lot of love for Diel. It’s going to be real tough to replace a guy like that. You don’t find guys like that very often. Me personally, it sucks. It sucks from a professional standpoint of him blocking for me, but as a friend, from that standpoint, with him retiring, I’m really going to miss him a lot.”
Other players – current and former teammates – took it to Twitter to say what they wanted to say about one of the league’s best players:
And from all of us here at Rock The Bolt: