Wesley Sandy Chandler (born August 22, 1956) is an American former college and professional football player who was a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons during the 1970s and 1980s. Chandler played college football for the University of Florida, and was recognized as an All-American. He was third overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the New Orleans Saints, the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and holds the NFL record for most receiving yards per game in a season. Chandler ranked twelfth in NFL history in receiving yards and thirteenth in receptions when he retired. He became a football coach, and served as the wide receivers coach for various teams at the professional and college level.
- Early life 1
- College career 2
- Professional career 3
- Post-playing career 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- Bibliography 7
- External links 8
Chandler was born in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He attended New Smyrna Beach High School, where he was a standout high school football player for coach Bud Asher's New Smyrna Beach Barracudas ("Cudas" to the fans). In his junior year the team was undefeated, including a victory over the Interlachen Rams of Interlachen High School which snapped their 21-game regular season win streak. Chandler scored twenty-two touchdowns as a senior in 1973 (scoring five in a single game), and rushing for 1,052 yards and catching twenty-two receptions as a wishbone halfback. Prominent with him in the backfield were the brothers Reggie and Keith Beverly. Chandler earned the nickname "Little Joe" due to his small size. In 2007, thirty-three years after he graduated from high school, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) recognized Chandler as one of the "100 Greatest Players of the First 100 Years" of Florida high school football.
Chandler accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he was a wide receiver for coach Doug Dickey's Florida Gators football team from 1974 to 1977. While he was a Florida undergraduate, Chandler became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Theta Sigma Chapter). As a Gator, he caught ninety-two passes for 1,963 yards and a school record twenty-two touchdowns in a run-oriented offense, adding six more scores on rushes and kick returns. and leading the team in receiving yards in 1975, 1976 and 1977. Chandler was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection and a first-team All-American in 1976 and 1977, a first-team Academic All-American in 1977, and the recipient of the Gators' Fergie Ferguson Award as a senior team captain in 1977. He also finished tenth in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy in 1977. He is widely considered to be one of the best all-around football players to ever play for the University of Florida, and has been named to several all-time Gators and all-SEC teams, and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1989. In 2006, The Gainesville Sun recognized Chandler as No. 6 among the top 100 Florida Gators players of the first 100 years of the team.
The New Orleans Saints selected Chandler in the first round (third pick overall) in the 1978 NFL Draft, and he played for the Saints for four seasons from 1978 to 1981. Chandler was selected to the Pro Bowl after his second season in the league after finishing with 1,069 yards and six touchdown receptions. He was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1981 to replace star receiver John Jefferson, who was traded to the Green Bay Packers after a bitter contract hold-out. In the opening round of the playoffs that year in a game known as The Epic In Miami, he caught six passes for 106 yards and returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown in the Chargers 41–38 victory.
The following season was Chandler's best, when he led the NFL with 1,032 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns in the strike-shortened 1982 season; his average of 129 yards receiving per game that year is still an NFL record. He also caught nine passes for 124 yards in a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chandler represented Chargers players in the players' union, and many NFL players in that role were cut or traded after the 1987 NFL strike. After he was elected to the union's executive committee, Chandler was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, with whom he finished his career in 1988. He played in four games before retiring in October after tendinitis in a knee and frustration over his performance. The 49ers went on to win the Super Bowl that season. "My heart wasn't in it. It had nothing to do with being a quitter. It was more about real-life decisions," he said.
During his 11-year NFL career, Chandler caught 559 passes for 8,966 yards and 56 touchdowns, rushed for 84 yards, returned 48 kickoffs for 1,048 yards, and gained 428 yards on 77 punt returns. Overall, he amassed 10,526 all-purpose yards. At the time of his retirement, Chandler ranked twelfth in NFL history in receiving yards and thirteenth in receptions. He also earned four Pro Bowl selections, including three with the San Diego Chargers. In 2001, Chandler was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.
Chandler eventually went to Dallas after seven years coaching in NFL Europe, including a stint as head coach of the Berlin Thunder in 1999. Before that, he also coached at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida and Father Lopez Catholic High School in Daytona Beach, Florida. In January 2012, he joined the California Golden Bears as their receivers coach.
Chandler has established a scholarship fund for minority students through the Wes Chandler Celebrity Golf Classic.
- 1976 College Football All-America Team
- 1977 College Football All-America Team
- Florida Gators football, 1970–79
- List of Alpha Phi Alpha brothers
- List of Florida Gators football All-Americans
- List of Florida Gators football players in the NFL
- List of New Orleans Saints first-round draft picks
- List of New Orleans Saints players
- databaseFootball.com, Players, Wes Chandler. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- " FHSAA unveils '100 Greatest Players of First 100 Years' as part of centennial football celebration," Florida High School Athletic Association (December 4, 2007). Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- 2011 Florida Gators Football Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 86, 89, 91, 96, 100, 103, 124, 127, 139, 143–145, 147–148, 150, 180 (2011). Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- Sports-Reference.com, College Football, 1977 Heisman Trophy Voting. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- See, e.g., Pat Dooley, " Dooley: Percy might be the best Gator ever," Gainesville Sun (November 22, 2008). Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
- Jack Hairston, " Chandler, Ellenson worthy additions to UF Hall of Fame," The Gainesville Sun, pp. 1C & 2C (April 14, 1989). Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Robbie Andreu & Pat Dooley, " No. 6 Wes Chandler," The Gainesville Sun (August 28, 2006). Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Draft History, 1978 National Football League Draft. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- National Football League, Historical Players, Wes Chandler. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- Pro-Football-Reference.com, Leaders, NFL Single-Season Receiving Yards per Game Leaders. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
- Pro-Football-Reference.com, Players, Wes Chandler. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- Carlson, Norm, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia (2007). ISBN 0-7948-2298-3.
- Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
- Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
- McCarthy, Kevin M., Fightin' Gators: A History of University of Florida Football, Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (2000). ISBN 978-0-7385-0559-6.
- Nash, Noel, ed., The Gainesville Sun Presents The Greatest Moments in Florida Gators Football, Sports Publishing, Inc., Champaign, Illinois (1998). ISBN 1-57167-196-X.
Image of Wes Chandler