Charlie Joiner

Class of 1996

100-yard games


Career receptions


Receiving yards






"Pass receiving is something I’ve been good at, but as far as mastering the art, it’s not something you think about that way. It is a skill that just sort of comes to you as a result of everything else.”

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

Charlie Joiner played pro football for 18 years, longer than any other wide receiver in NFL history at the time of his retirement. When he retired at the age of 39 after the 1986 season with the San Diego Chargers, he ranked as the leading receiver with 750 career catches.

Blessed with excellent speed and tantalizing moves, Joiner averaged 16.2 yards per catch and accounted for 12,146 yards and 65 touchdowns on his receptions. He ranked sixth in career reception yardage.

The Houston Oilers targeted Joiner for the defensive backfield when they picked the 5-11, 180-pounder from Grambling in the fourth round of the 1969 AFL-NFL Draft. He played briefly on defense and the kickoff return team but soon became established as a premier pass catcher.

In his fourth season, 1972, Houston sent him to the Cincinnati Bengals in a four-player swap. Four years later in 1976, he was traded to San Diego. With the Chargers, Joiner blossomed into super-stardom. He and quarterback Dan Fouts formed a lethal pass-catch team that accounted for the preponderance of his 586 receptions as a Charger.

During his 11 years in San Diego, Joiner caught 50 or more passes seven times and had 70 or more receptions in three seasons. Injuries cut into his playing time at the beginning, but in a 193-game span over his final 13 seasons, Joiner missed only one game. He was an All-NFL pick in 1980 and a Pro Bowl choice three times. In the 1980 AFC title game, he led the Chargers with six receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

Joiner, who was born Oct. 14, 1947, in Many, La., was once described by San Francisco 49ers coaching great Bill Walsh as “the most intelligent, the smartest, the most calculating receiver the game has ever known.”

1969 Houston
1970 Houston
1971 Houston
1972 Houston/Cincinnati
1973 Cincinnati
1974 Cincinnati
1975 Cincinnati
1976 San Diego
1977 San Diego
1978 San Diego
1979 San Diego
1980 San Diego
1981 San Diego
1982 San Diego
1983 San Diego
1984 San Diego
1985 San Diego
1986 San Diego
Career Total
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 1-0; Rushing: 8-22; Kickoff Returns: 10-194

Full Name: Charles Joiner, Jr.

Birthdate: October 14, 1947

Birthplace: Many, Louisiana

High School: William Oscar Boston (Lake Charles, La.)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 27, 1996

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 27, 1996

Presenter: Eddie Robinson, college coach at Grambling

Other Members of Class of 1996: Lou Creekmur, Dan Dierdorf, Joe Gibbs, Mel Renfro

Pro Career: 18 seasons, 239 games

Drafted: Fourth round (93rd player overall) in 1969 by Houston Oilers

Uniform Number: 18, (40)

Charlie Joiner Enshrinement Speech 1996

Presenter: Eddie Robinson

Thank you very much to the enshrinees, Lou, Dan, Joe and Mel. Congratulations for this great honor. When I look at you, I remember a song, “On the Street Where You Live.” Some part in there it said, "It seems we have met before." So, what I am saying to you, what I am feeling this morning, is we have met before, but it is a refrain that I cannot hear. The last four times that I was here, I don't know what has happened to the team, but I don't hear the Steelers, they are quiet. It was always "here we go, here we go" the last three times we were here. They are very quiet today.

I feel the same as I did one of those years when Willie Davis was enshrined. And Pete told us how many minutes you had. Well, my wife always wants me to be right. He told us you had five minutes. So, when we went into this meal that we had just before we came out here, Pete said, "Remember presenters, you have five minutes." The first guy came out and he took about 30 minutes, Dan. What I wanted to say that with that five minutes, my wife kept me up just about all night trying to make me end up with five minutes. When I called and talked to Pete this time and had him laughing, he finally told me we had three minutes this time. I am going to try to stay within the time.

The commissioner, the Hall of Fame officials and committees, and the Hall of Famers, the guys who have been in, and ladies and gentlemen, it has been rewarding and very exciting for me to be here to present one of my favorites. Coaches aren't supposed to have favorites, but like coaching today and coaching when he was there, he has to be a favorite. To have the opportunity to present for enshrinement and to the Hall of Fame for Charlie Joiner makes me extremely proud. Having been Charlie's coach is a great honor. But of course, since Charlie left us and you see two of them are up here, Charlie has played for some of the finest coaches to ever coach in the NFL.

I wanted to say -- and I told Charlie -- Charlie recently warmed his old coach's heart. When he was named as one of the recipients of this great honor, possibly the highest honor in the NFL for players, in his comments he announced that we would ask his college coach to present him. Charlie, this is a great tribute to me, to have the honor of presenting you for enshrinement. I firmly believe that you will later realize that this is possibly one of the highest honors in a football player's lifetime. It is an experience. And as you talk about so much. It is truly Football's Greatest Weekend. It really is. And something I hope that most of the coaches across the country, doesn't matter the division, that college or university coaches would have the privilege to stand here and get this view that I have right now.

Charlie is dear to me. Charlie has shown himself to be a man of courage, humility, integrity as well as a scholar. My personal admiration for Charlie has grown through the years for what he accomplished on the college and pro football field, but the way he has conducted his private life. His devotion to his family, his civic and community involvement and the excellence he brought to the coaching profession. When I talk about Charlie, it is not about just college and professional football, but it is about life itself. This man is someone who personifies class and dignity on and off the field. With Joe, he said Charlie has class; with Don, he said he is a special person. But if you ask Charlie Joiner about his career, he will tell you that he is nothing special. Because that is the kind of person that he is. However, if you would ask me and other coaches who coached him in the NFL, they would tell you quite a different story. They would tell you of a man to whom football is more than a game. It is a commitment and a way of life. They would tell you about a man that would not only give 100 percent, he would give 200 percent of his time whether it is on the practice field or on the game field. While the sports and the job he has played and has held all brought on in recognition to him. He, in turn, brought honor to them by his dedication, his work and his manner in which he played the game.

I just had an idea. That we all know of his achievements on the football field and he has gone into the profession. I thought it would be fitting and proper to go to his workplace now that he is a coach and see what they have to say about him, Charlie Joiner. And this is it. I read it to you as Charlie Joiner takes his place in the Football Hall of Fame. "All of us at the Buffalo Bills join many others who have known and associated with him in applauding this outstanding former player. This magnificent coach and exemplary citizen. Charlie has earned the affection and respect of all of us here in Buffalo. He is soft-spoken, hardworking, conscientious in his obligations to others and he is a man to be admired." He closes it with: "On this special occasion, we wish Charlie and his wonderful family, led by Diane, his wife, and his daughters, all the delights and honor they so richly deserve."

Most of you have seen him play, most of you have read about him. Then the question comes to me. What shall I say about Charlie Joiner? Should I say that he was a gifted receiver in college or pro football? Shall I enumerate the great feats of his outstanding catches in college and pro football or describe the thrills he has given collegiate and pro football during his playing time? Should I mention that he has played 18 years and caught 750 passes for 12,146 yards? An all-time record at that time. Or that he contributed to four winning years at Grambling? Or that he was in the Pro Bowl three times: 1976, '79 and '80? And further, that for five years he was the inspirational leader of the Chargers. I am not endowed with a great deal of eloquence. Even if I had this skill this morning, any attempt on my part to embellish his football accomplishments with superlatives would be unnecessary.

His very presence here this morning will handle that. I want to tell you that I know what I want to say. I want to say to you that to me Charlie represents the embodiment of what is good, fine, righteous and admirable in college and professional football. To the Enshrinement Committee, the Hall of Fame and ladies and gentlemen: I present for enshrinement one of college football's finest receivers ever. One of pro football's greatest performers as a receiver in his years in the league. But more than that, I give you one of Grambling's finest sons. But more than that, I give you one of America's finest Americans, Charlie Joiner. Charlie Joiner. Charlie Joiner.

Charlie Joiner

Thank you, coach. Thank you for all those fine words. I tell you, I appreciate all your support coach during all those years at Grambling. And to this day, this day I continue to remember all your teachings and philosophies. So now that I am a coach at the Buffalo Bills, I understood what you drove into me to make me a better player. Let me tell you, I understand now how difficult it is to coach. It is difficult to coach, ladies and gentlemen. If you don't ask me, ask Abe Whittles in the audience. A great teammate of mine. I am glad I got Coach Robinson's support when I needed help. Not just about football, but about life in general.

I know to get to this pinnacle I needed help. first and foremost, I have to give the credit to my wife, Diane. You're very lovely. My two daughters Janee and Cory. Secondly, I just have to say this. I have to give credit to the great coaches I played for, including Coach Robinson, Don Coryell. I played for Joe Gibbs also. I played for Jim Hanifan. I played for Ernie Zampese. I also played for the legendary Paul Brown. And these men gave me special tools and special teachings that carried me through the years to help me accomplish this goal. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the owners. They were very important to my career also. The late Eugene Klein, the late Paul Brown again, Bud Adams of the Houston Oilers and Alex Spanos of the San Diego Chargers. These men were all a part of my NFL career. In addition to the coaches are the players. The players I worked with over the years. Guys like Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, John Jefferson, Ed White, Wes Chandler, Doug Wilkinson. I am just naming the great players at San Diego when I was there. Then in Cincinnati there was Ken Anderson and Issac Curtis, two great players. When I was in Houston there was Ken Houston, a Hall of Famer, Ken Burrough. Just a few of the great players that I played with on Sunday afternoons. I tell you, with a cast like that, to me there was nothing better than playing professional football.

I have to talk about a couple of other people. Like Dan said, this is the time to give thanks to people. And I want to give thanks to certain people right here. These are the ones that don't get a chance to go on the field on Sunday. The don't get a chance to cross those white lines. I'm talking about the people who were important in my career, like the team doctors, the team trainers, the equipment men and, of course, the most important factor in all of those are the fans. They don't get a chance to play on the field, but they are rooting for us. I tell you, the fans and all the other people who didn't get a chance to cross that line made a very good experience for me. I'm just glad I was in the NFL at that time. Thank you very much.

This is a wonderful game that we are involved with. It is a team game. It is where 45-50 men come together to perhaps form a great team. I was fortunate enough to play on many great teams. And on these great teams, we would work together, play together, strive together, run together, do everything together to achieve one goal, and that was to win on Sunday afternoons or Monday nights or one Saturday afternoon -- whenever we played. There was one characteristic that was very good about all these teams that I played on, especially the very good ones. We had the attitude that we would never, never, never quit. There is one thing that I would like to teach the youth of America, that would be to never, never quit. Don't let someone tell you that it can't happen. Pursue your dreams with all the energy and experience that you have.

I was born in Many, Louisiana. It is spelled M-A-N-Y. A lot of people mispronounce it. I grew up in a small town of Lake Charles, Louisiana. I attended a small black college in the small hills of Northern Louisiana. And when you read the papers in 1969, I was drafted as a small defensive back by the Houston Oilers of the NFL. I tell you, somewhere within those small time periods of my life I developed a desire to excel. Could have been at Grambling, could have been at Lake Charles, maybe I was born with it in Many. But with that desire to excel, that ability to give 110% of yourself, I think that is what got me here. I think that is what got me into this great fraternity, and I think these guys have formed the greatest fraternity on Earth, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Since I have been here, I have heard some great words about enshrinement. The best one: Immortality. Another good one: You go on forever. Ken Houston told me it is like never retiring. And Bob Lilly told me to be elected to the Hall of Fame is a blessing. Not just one. It is a spiritual blessing, financial blessing, all kind of blessings. I am just proud to be into this group now. I would like to thank everyone involved -- the staff of the Hall of Fame, the Selection Committee of the Hall of Fame. I would like to tell the Selection Committee: It took you a long time, but you finally got it right. I would like to thank all my former coaches, former players, friends. Everyone who has supported me along the way for making this one of the most special days of my life. I would like to thank everyone for that. Before I leave the podium, they have that pool going of who is going to cry first. I know Dan Fouts bet on me; I know he did. Dan, you almost got me today. I looked out into the audience and there is a guy with a "83" on his chest. Wham, a Charger jersey. It’s kind of brought back memories of John Jefferson. Thank you very much. I thank everyone. All the people of Canton. You made this a wonderful experience for me. Thank you very much.