Charlie Joiner
refer to caption
Joiner with the San Diego Chargers c. 1982
No. 40, 18
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1947-10-14) October 14, 1947 (age 74)
Many, Louisiana
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:188 lb (85 kg)
Career information
College:Grambling State
NFL Draft:1969 / Round: 4 / Pick: 93
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:12,146
Yards per reception:16.2
Receiving touchdowns:65
Player stats at

Charles B. Joiner Jr. (born October 14, 1947) is an American former professional football player who was a wide receiver in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons. He is best known for his career with the San Diego Chargers, with whom he spent 11 seasons. Before joining the Chargers, he played for the Houston Oilers and Cincinnati Bengals each for four seasons. He retired with the most career receptions, receiving yards, and games played of any wide receiver in NFL history. Joiner was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Early life and college

Born in Many, Louisiana, Joiner attended W. O. Boston High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He did not play football until his junior year, but excelled as an All-State Receiver and earned a scholarship to Grambling State University to play for coach Eddie Robinson. At Grambling, Joiner played with quarterback James Harris and was a three-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection.[1] He was the team's leading receiver from 1966-68 with 2,066 yards.[2]

Professional football career

Joiner graduated from Grambling in 1969 and was drafted in the fourth round by the American Football League's Houston Oilers. He started his career as a defensive back, but he made the switch to wide receiver in his rookie year after being carted off the field from a hit by Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little.[3] Joiner played for Houston until 1972, when he was traded to the Cincinnati Bengals.[4][5] He had his best season to date in 1975, when he had career bests of 37 receptions for 726 yards, an average of 19.6 yards per catch.[6][7] On November 23, 1975, he set a Bengals' then-single-game record with 200 receiving yards in a 35–23 loss to Cleveland.[8][9] After the season, Cincinnati traded Joiner to the San Diego Chargers for defensive end Coy Bacon.[10] He was happy to reunite with new Chargers offensive coordinator Bill Walsh, who was Joiner's coach in Cincinnati.[7][11]

It was with the Chargers' high flying "Air Coryell" offense under coach Don Coryell that Joiner had his most productive years, exceeding 1,000 yards receiving in a season four times and going to three Pro Bowls (1976, 1979–80). Joiner was selected All-Pro in 1980 and 2nd Team All-AFC in 1976. Although he never played in a Super Bowl, Joiner, quarterback Dan Fouts, tight end Kellen Winslow, and fellow receiver John Jefferson helped the Chargers reach the AFC title game in the 1980 and 1981 seasons.[12]

Joiner had 50 receptions for 1,056 yards, averaging 21.1 yards per reception in 1976,[13] when he was named second-team All-Pro by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA).[14] The trade for Joiner was the rare swap that benefited both teams, as both he and Bacon were named to the Pro Bowl that year.[15] In 1979, he helped San Diego earn their first divisional title in 14 years with a 17–7 win over Denver in the regular-season finale. He was forced back to the locker room twice during the game with injuries, but returned to the field bandaged both times. It was an inspirational performance with Jefferson unable to play and John Floyd, the Chargers only other receiver, being just a rookie.[12] He finished second in the AFC in receptions to Joe Washington with 72 catches for 1,008 yards and four touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl, replacing an injured Lynn Swann, who himself was a replacement for Steve Largent. At 32 years old, Joiner was the oldest player in the all-star game.[16] The following season in 1980, Joiner had 71 receptions for 1,132 yards, and teamed with Jefferson and Winslow to become the first trio of receivers on a team to reach 1,000 yards in the same season. The three were all named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.[17] In the 1980 AFC championship game, Joiner led the team with six catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.[4] In January 1982, he played a key role in San Diego's 41–38 divisional postseason overtime win over the Miami Dolphins in a game that became known as The Epic In Miami. Joiner caught 7 passes for 108 yards in the game, including a 39-yard reception on the penultimate play of the game set up Rolf Benirschke's game-winning 29-yard field goal.[18] The Chargers advanced again to the conference championship, but lost to Joiner's former team Cincinnati.[12]

Joiner passed Charley Taylor as the career leader in receptions on November 25, 1984, breaking the mark of 649 with six catches for 70 yards in a 52–24 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers.[19] He also surpassed Don Maynard's all-time record of 11,834 receiving yards in Week 5 of 1986 against Seattle.[20][21]

Joiner was the last active player from the AFL.[12] He finished his 18 AFL/NFL seasons with 750 receptions for 12,146 yards, averaging 16.2 average per catch, and 65 touchdowns.[4][22] He had 50 or more catches in seven seasons, including three with at least 70.[23] He retired as the then-NFL leader in career receptions and receiving yards. At the time, he also played the most seasons (18) and games by a wide receiver (239).[4][22] At age 39, Joiner also retired as the oldest wide receiver in NFL history (since surpassed by Jerry Rice among others).[24] Joiner credited his success and longevity to Coryell: "Thanks to Coach Coryell’s offense and his revolutionary passing game, he prolonged my career, from the day I got to the Chargers until the day I retired. I will forever be grateful to him and what he did for the game of football."[25]


Joiner excelled despite neither being among the quickest nor most talented receivers in the NFL.[12] In addition to good health and longevity, Joiner was an intelligent player and precise pass route runner.[26] Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh called Joiner "the most intelligent, the smartest, the most calculating receiver the game has ever known."[4]

Joiner was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.[27] In 1999, he was ranked No. 100 on The Sporting News's list of the 100 greatest football players.[28] He was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.[29]

Coaching career

In 1987, Chargers head coach Al Saunders hired Joiner as an assistant coach.[12] He was later an assistant for the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Joiner returned to San Diego as receivers coach from 2008 to 2012 before retiring after 44 years as a player and coach in football.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "Charlie Joiner" (PDF). Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "Charlie Joiner | BCFHOF".
  3. ^ Jaworski, Ron (2010). The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays. Random House. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-345-51795-1.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Charlie Joiner". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  5. ^ Steward, R.L. (October 25, 1972). "Pritchard key, PB says". Journal Herald. p. 12. Retrieved August 26, 2022 – via
  6. ^ "Bengals Deal Joiner For Chargers' Bacon". The Coshocton Tribune. UPI. April 2, 1976. p. 8. Retrieved January 27, 2022 – via
  7. ^ a b "Chargers Get Joiner". Times-Advocate. Escondido, California. AP. April 2, 1976. pp. A-11, A-12. Retrieved January 27, 2022 – via
  8. ^ Williams, Marty (November 24, 1975). "Browns Spot Flaw, Then Belt Bengals". Dayton Daily News. p. 16. Retrieved January 27, 2022 – via
  9. ^ "Regular Season Individual Records - Cincinnati Bengals". Archived from the original on October 14, 2006. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
  10. ^ "Bengals Deal Joiner for Charger's Bacon". The Coshocton Tribune. UPI. April 2, 1976. p. 8. Retrieved March 5, 2022 – via
  11. ^ Hoff, Dave (August 4, 1976). "New look spawns Charger hopes". Escondido Times-Advocate. p. A-17. Retrieved March 5, 2022 – via
  12. ^ a b c d e f Dolan, Steve (January 13, 1987). "For Joiner, Career Had Thrills and a Regret : He Recalls Records, but Missed Super Bowl". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Hoff, Rick (July 24, 1977). "Rodgers high on Chargers' hopes for '77". Times-Advocate. Escondido, California. p. B-1. Retrieved January 17, 2022 – via
  14. ^ Olderman, Murray (January 11, 1977). "O.J., Ham, Guy Top All-NFL". The Register. Orange Couty, California. Newspaper Enterprise Association. p. C-3. Retrieved January 17, 2022 – via
  15. ^ Mitchell, Matt (October 2, 1977). "Look-a-like coaches facing each other". Times-Advocate. Escondido, California. p. B-6. Retrieved March 6, 2022 – via
  16. ^ Mayer, Ron (January 24, 1980). "Joiner: A Sub's Still an Honor". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. D-1. Retrieved January 18, 2022 – via
  17. ^ "Chargers dominate All-Pro squad..." Times-Advocate. Escondido, California. AP. January 7, 1981. p. D-1. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  18. ^ Moran, Malcolm (January 3, 1982). "CHARGERS WIN IN OVERTIME; COWBOYS ROMP; BENIRSCHKE KICK GIVES SAN DIEGO 41-38 DECISION". The New York Times. Section 5, page 1. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  19. ^ Norcross, Don (November 26, 1984). "Not As Planned". Escondido Times-Advocate. p. C-1. Retrieved January 14, 2022 – via
  20. ^ "Largent, Joiner Set Reception Records". The New York Times. AP. October 7, 1986. p. D28. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  21. ^ Charlie Joiner, game log
  22. ^ a b "Joiner retires". Merced Sun-Star. Associated Press. January 13, 1987. p. 10. Retrieved January 15, 2022 – via
  23. ^ "Hall of Fame Thumbnails". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. January 16, 1994. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  24. ^ "Charlie Joiner highlights". The Oregonian. January 14, 1987. p. D5 (61).
  25. ^ Center, Bill. "Don Coryell, ex-Chargers, Aztecs coach dies at 85". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  26. ^ Jaworski 2010, p.81
  27. ^ Trey Iles (July 23, 2014). "NFL Hall of Famer Grambling's Charlie Joiner is No. 28 on Louisiana's list of all-time top 51 athletes | Sports". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  28. ^ Matthews, Bob (August 15, 1999). "Wings' streak was Rochester's best". Democrat and Chronicle. p. 3D. Retrieved December 17, 2019 – via
  29. ^ "All Inductees". Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  30. ^ "Charlie Joiner retires from San Diego Chargers". Retrieved October 26, 2019.