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Joiner Puts Hall on Hold, Signs 1-Year Charger Pact

February 28, 1986|MARC APPLEMAN | Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Charger wide receiver Charlie Joiner has joined one Hall of Fame and put another on hold.

The leading pass receiver in National Football League history was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions' Breitbard Hall of Fame on Wednesday, the same evening the Chargers announced they signed the 38-year-old veteran to a one-year contract.

Joiner signed for the same terms he received in 1985, which is reported to be $425,000.

He didn't have any problem with the amount.

"It made me feel very good that I signed for next year. I'm glad to get it over with. Now I hope to continue making around 60 catches a season," he said.

Thus, the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will have to wait for Joiner. Players don't become eligible for the NFL Hall until they retire, and Joiner is preparing to start his 18th professional season.

"If someone had told me 10 years ago that I'd still be playing, I would have said it was kind of crazy," Joiner said. "It's hard to believe I'm still playing a position like wide receiver. I'm proud of that."

Few were happier with Joiner's decision to play another season than Charger Owner Alex G. Spanos or assistant head coach Al Saunders.

"He fulfilled and exceeded our expectations last year," said Saunders, who was the team's wide receiver coach for the past three seasons. "There was no question we would extend an offer to Charlie. As Mr. Spanos said, it was done in about two minutes."

He caught 59 passes last season, improving his career total to an NFL-record 716. In 1984, Joiner had 61 catches to pass Charley Taylor's career record of 649.

Joiner has 11,706 yards in receptions and needs 129 more to pass Don Maynard and become the all-time leader in that category.

"He is one of those extraordinary people and athletes," Saunders said. "He is an innovator in the passing game. His intelligence and preciseness in running routes allows us to do a multiplicity of things with him.

Joiner, the second oldest receiver to play in the NFL (Jackie Smith was 39 in 1979), is also in excellent condition.

While Joiner has lost a few steps over the years, he has increased his strength.

"He has really developed himself in the weight room the past two years," Saunders said.

Who knows how long Joiner will continue to make clutch, third-down receptions over the middle?

"Charlie is the best judge as to when it will be time (to retire). In Charlie's mind, he will continue to play until he feels the contribution he makes isn't as good as he would like," Saunders said.

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