SAN DIEGO (BVM) – When the topic of greatest quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl comes up, Dan Marino’s name is typically the first mentioned. Others included are Fran Tarkenton, Jim Kelly and Warren Moon.
But Dan Fouts is right up there with the best of them.
Before the NFL
Even before Dan emerged as the star he became, the Fouts name was already a very popular one in the Bay area. His father, Bob, did games on the radio for the San Francisco 49ers for more than two decades.
Dan went to Marin Catholic High School, just outside the Golden City.
After two lackluster seasons there, Fouts transferred to St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco where he finished out his prep career.
Fouts’s play was night and day after the school change, quickly emerging as one of the better quarterbacks in the area.
As a junior, Fouts led the Wildcats to a perfect season and a West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) title. He was also named to the WCAL first team.
He finished the season with 1,310 yards and 16 touchdowns.
His senior year was not as stellar but still led his team to a 5-1 record.
Fouts ultimately decided to play college football at the University of Oregon. He arrived on campus for the 1969 season and got his first start in Week 3 of the 1970 season.
As a sophomore, he finished second in the conference in completions, completion percentage and passing touchdowns, all behind Stanford’s Jim Plunkett.
Fouts became one of the best starters in the PAC-8 throughout his collegiate career and finished his days as a Duck with 5,995 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Despite Fouts’ play, Oregon’s football program was not the force that it is today. The Ducks went 3-7 in Fouts’ senior year in 1972.
While it was clear that Fouts had the arm talent to play at the next level, there were still some serious concerns with him as a prospect, including his 54 interceptions in college.
This allowed Fouts to slip to the third round to the San Diego Chargers in the 1973 NFL Draft.
The original plan was for Fouts to serve as the backup to Johnny Unitas, but when Unitas suffered a shoulder injury, Fouts was forced into a starter role as a rookie.
He finished his first season with six touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Unitas retired the following offseason, leaving Fouts as the starter.
He had similar struggles in year two with eight touchdowns and 13 picks before his season ended due to injury.
Fouts remained a below-average quarterback for the first five years of his career until the 1978 season.
San Diego brought in Dan Coryell as their new head coach, and all of a sudden, everything clicked for Fouts. The Chargers finished 9-7 that season and for the first time in Fouts’ career, he threw more touchdowns than interceptions.
In 1979, Fouts became one of the league’s premier quarterbacks.
He led the league that year with a 62.6 completion percentage and 4,082 yards. He finished second in MVP voting behind Earl Campbell.
The 1979 season was the first of four consecutive seasons that Fouts led the league in passing yards.
In 1981, Fouts led San Diego to the AFC Championship, but they were defeated by the Cincinnati Bengals. This would be the closest that Fouts would get to a Super Bowl appearance.
Fouts signed a six-year deal with the Chargers in 1983. While he remained effective when he was on the field, Fouts dealt with various injuries that kept him sidelined throughout the contract.
He retired after the 1987 season.
Fouts finished his career with over 43,000 passing yards and over 250 touchdown passes while making six Pro Bowl appearances.
The Chargers retired Fouts’ No. 14 the year after he retired and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Where is he now?
Fouts joined CBS as an analyst in 1988 and called games for them and ABC in various stints over the course of more than 30 years.
In 2020, CBS opted to part ways with the legendary quarterback.
Fouts has been out of the public eye since, living with his wife in Oregon.However, Fouts still has a football fix, recently attending a game at his high school alma mater this season.