Ex-Chargers guard Doug Wilkerson, “Air Coryell” mainstay, dies at 73

Doug Wilkerson, a fierce and fast blocker with four San Diego Chargers teams that reached the playoffs, has died, the team announced Monday. He was 73.

Wilkerson had been living at a memory-care home in Encinitas, said former Chargers colleagues who visited him.

He played 14 NFL seasons with San Diego after arriving in December 1970 through a trade with the Houston Oilers, who drafted him earlier that year with the 14th overall pick out of North Carolina Central.

Nicknamed “Moosie,” Wilkerson manned left guard on highly effective lines that fronted Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts in the “Air Coryell” offense. Between 1979 and 1982, San Diego never finished lower than fourth in points and won two NFL scoring titles. Fouts, signifying where the offense’s success began, took his blockers to dinner before every game.


“It started with our offensive line, and Doug was one of those guys — Route 63,” said former Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke, invoking Wilkerson’s jersey number. “You just called a right-side play, and give it to (Chuck) Muncie, and Moosie made the hole. He pulled when he needed to.”

Wilkerson earned the first of his three Pro Bowl berths in 1980. In his final NFL season, he made the 1982 All-Pro team.

“Moosie was one-of-a-kind. A member of our Chargers Hall of Fame, 40th and 50th anniversary teams, the Black College Football Hall of Fame and a three-time All Pro (first team once),…

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