Louie Kelcher
refer to caption
Kelcher with the San Diego Chargers c. 1982
No. 74, 94
Position:Defensive tackle
Personal information
Born: (1953-08-23) August 23, 1953 (age 68)
Beaumont, Texas
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:291 lb (132 kg)
Career information
High school:French (Beaumont, Texas)
NFL Draft:1975 / Round: 2 / Pick: 30
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:116
Games started:89
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Louis James Kelcher (born August 23, 1953) is an American retired professional football player who was a defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL), spending most of his career with the San Diego Chargers. He was a four-time All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Kelcher was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame and is a member of their 40th and 50th anniversary teams.

Kelcher played college football with the SMU Mustangs and earned consensus All-American honors as a senior in 1974. He was selected by the Chargers in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft. His outstanding performance made him one of the team's most popular players from 1975 through 1983. He joined the San Francisco 49ers in 1984 and helped them win Super Bowl XIX that season.

Early life

Growing up in Beaumont, Texas, Kelcher was more interested in playing baseball, even though youngsters in Texas who were big typically played football. He was supposed to be eight years old to play peewee league. However, Kelcher was bigger than his peers, and the Little League president next door got him in a year early. He started playing football in junior high school.[1] Entering high school at Beaumont French,[2] he was only interested in playing baseball, but the coaches placed him in football.[1]

College career

Kelcher attended Southern Methodist University, where he played for the Mustangs. As a senior in 1974, he was named National College Lineman of the Week by the Associated Press after recording 16 unassisted tackles and assisting on eight others in an 18–14 win over No. 5 Texas A&M.[3] He was named a consensus All-American and voted the Southwest Conference's defensive player of the year.[4]

NFL career

Kelcher was known for his immense size. Standing 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m), he once said his weight varied between 280 pounds (130 kg) and infinity;[5] he wore size 17EEE shoes.[6] He was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 1975 NFL draft and was named to the NFL All-Rookie team. In nine seasons (1975–1983) with the Chargers, Kelcher was selected to three Pro Bowls (1977, 1978 and 1980),[5] twice as a starter.[7] He was named All-AFC in 1977, 1978 and 1980; first-team All-Pro in 1977 and 1978; and second-team All-Pro in 1980 and 1981.[8] His teammates voted him the Chargers' most valuable player in 1977, when he helped the team set a then-team record of 44 sacks. He was the first defensive tackle in the team's history to win the award.[9]

Kelcher was sidelined in 1979 for all but three minutes after a knee operation.[10] He returned in 1980, teaming with fellow 1975 Chargers' draftees Fred Dean and Gary "Big Hands" Johnson as the Chargers led the NFL in sacks (60). Johnson and Dean were named first-team All-Pro, with Kelcher being named second-team All-Pro. The trio, along with Leroy Jones formed a defensive frontline that was nicknamed the Bruise Brothers.[11][12] In the 1980 AFC Championship Game against the Oakland Raiders, Kelcher has 20 tackles, 10 solo and 10 assisted, and also one sack.[13] In the Epic in Miami, the 1981 divisional playoff which became one of the greatest football games ever, the Dolphins were leading 38–31 in the fourth quarter and threatening to score again at the Chargers' 20 when Kelcher stripped the ball from Miami's Andra Franklin and San Diego's Pete Shaw recovered the fumble. The Chargers rallied to force overtime and won 41–38.[14][15] Don "Air" Coryell's Chargers teams of that era are mostly remembered for its high-scoring, pass-oriented offense. The Chargers made four consecutive playoffs (1979–1982), winning three straight AFC West titles (1979–1981) and advancing to back-to-back AFC championship games.[16]

Kelcher retired in November 1983, but remained on the Chargers reserve list. The Chargers traded him to the San Francisco 49ers in March 1984. Kelcher had wanted to play again, but not with San Diego.[17] The trade reunited him with former Charger teammates Johnson, Dean and offensive lineman Billy Shields. In his final NFL season that year, the 49ers won Super Bowl XIX.[18]


Kelcher c. 1981
Kelcher c. 1981

Kelcher was a favorite among Chargers fans, who greeted him at home games with cheers of "Loueeee".[19][20] Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts called him "the most universally beloved guy on our team."[5] Kelcher was among the first NFL defensive linemen to weigh 300 pounds (140 kg).[21] He was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2003,[22] and the Breitbard Hall of Fame in 2006.[23] He was also named to both the Chargers' 40th and 50th anniversary teams.[24][25]

Kelcher received first-team honors on the All-Southwest Conference football team of the 1970s,[26] and he was inducted into the Southern Methodist University Hall of Fame in 2012.[27]

Later years

Kelcher moved to Austin, Texas, in 1992.[20] He became co-owner with Doug English, a former college rival with the Texas Longhorns, in the warehousing firm Pro Line Warehouse and Distribution.[20][28] Kelcher also had a stake in a trucking business in Texas.[20]


  1. ^ a b Jackson, Michael (2014). The Game Before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL. U of Nebraska Press. p. 317. ISBN 9780803262973. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  2. ^ Granberry, Mike (July 25, 1980). "Talk's Cheap To Chargers' Kelcher". Los Angeles Times. Part III, p. 16. Retrieved June 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "SMU's Kelcher lineman of week". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. AP. November 13, 1974. p. 2-C. Retrieved May 29, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Kelcher Signs San Diego Contract". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. UPI. April 9, 1975. p. C-13. Retrieved May 30, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b c Graney, Ed (July 17, 2003). "Chargers Hall of Fame finally finds space to fit in Big Louie". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. C-1. Kelcher once said his playing weight fluctuated between 280 and infinity, depending on the buffet special being offered.
  6. ^ Pascarelli, Peter (September 8, 1978). "Rating the NFL's top defenses". Poughkeepsie Journal. Gannett News Service. p. 13. Retrieved February 23, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  7. ^ "Former All-Pro defensive lineman Louie Kelcher, 28, whose unexpected..." UPI. August 3, 1982. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  8. ^ "2012 San Diego Chargers Media Guide" (PDF). San Diego Chargers. 2012. pp. 244–45. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 20, 2013.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Matt (December 16, 1977). "Kelcher easy MVP selection". Times-Advocate. Escondido, California. p. A-17. Retrieved June 21, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Zimmerman, Paul (September 8, 1980). "Afc West". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2014-01-30. Retrieved 2014-01-30.
  11. ^ "Grambling State University Loses Two Football Legends". FoxSports.com. Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. August 11, 2010. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010.
  12. ^ "No. 16: Chargers' best draft class". ESPN.com. March 28, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2011. The 2001 class was good, but the 1975 class ranks the best. San Diego had four of the first 33 picks in the draft, and the Chargers selected three defensive linemen that would form the nucleus of "The Bruise Brothers" and once formed three-fourths of the AFC Pro Bowl defensive line.(subscription required)
  13. ^ Smith, Rick (1981). 1981 San Diego Chargers Facts Book. San Diego Chargers. p. 45.
  14. ^ Reynolds, Tim (January 1, 2002). "The Longest Yard". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  15. ^ Reilly, Rick (October 25, 1999). "A Matter of Life and Sudden Death the 1982 Playoff Between the Chargers and Dolphins Wasn't Just a Football Game and Wasn't a War, Exactly, But It Did Change a Few People's Lives". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  16. ^ Center, Bill (July 1, 2010). "Don Coryell, ex-Chargers, Aztecs coach, dies at 85". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  17. ^ Brown, Brian (March 29, 1984). "Chargers deal Kelcher to 49ers for low picks". The San Diego Union. p. C1. Kelcher also told Charger linebacker Cliff Thrift, a friend, that he wanted to return to football but did not want to play again for the Chargers.
  18. ^ "Say It Ain't So". cnnsi.com. January 28, 2001. Archived from the original on April 3, 2013.
  19. ^ Scholfield, Steve (November 10, 2000). "Bauer, Kelcher were fan favorites". North County Times. pp. C-1, C-6. Retrieved May 31, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ a b c d Magee, Jerry (February 26, 2006). "Chargers fans had love affair with 'Loueeee'". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. C-6. 'Loueeee,' Chargers crowds at Qualcomm Stadium crowds would coo, lovingly. 'Loueeee.'
  21. ^ Plaschke, Bill (September 1, 1995). "The BIG Picture : On the Field, Those 300-Pounders Look Large Enough, but Off the Field, They Face a Different World". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  22. ^ Magee, Jerry (November 10, 2003). "Seems like old times, circa 1980s". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. C-6. Fouts showed up to offer a few words at halftime on the occasion of Kelcher being received into the Chargers Hall of Fame.
  23. ^ sdhoc.com, San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum Archived 2009-10-02 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Chargers 50th anniversary team". The Press-Enterprise. Archived from the original on December 18, 2009.
  25. ^ "Chargers Honor Lincoln". Lewiston Tribune. October 24, 2000. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013.
  26. ^ "Texas gains seven slots on SWC team of the '70s". The Odessa American. The Associated Press. December 16, 1979. p. 3B. Retrieved May 29, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "The Morning Briefing". The Province. June 1, 2012. p. A43. Retrieved May 31, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "R-Zell given her idol Meryl a run in her breakout 'One True Thing'". Austin American-Statesman. September 19, 1998. p. E4. Retrieved June 1, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.