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The 2nd most recognized LT in the sports world retired earlier this football season, and I felt that a little deserved time should be spent with authentic retrospect of one of the all time greats and his career, retiring after 11 remarkable years in the National Football League.
LaDainian Tomlinson was drafted in 2001 by the San Diego Chargers with their 5th overall pick. He immediately took the lead and showed the world what he was going to do to the NFL for the next 11 seasons, where he would juke and jive in that time period. Scoring 10 TDs and rushing for 1236 YDs in his 1st season. For 9 years he terrorized the AFC West, and sent blue and gold shivers down other teams’ backs when they saw number 21, in the backfield across from them.
With an admirable 4.3 career yards/carry average, and an even more imposing 13 TD/season average, its easy to see why so many teams feared the 5-10 elusive runner. Naturally as age creeps up on a player, their time of course runs downhill and their feet don’t move quite as fast as they used to, and it was the end of LTs career in San Diego, letting him go at the dreaded age of 30 years old, in 2010. A season after he ran for only 730 YDs but in spite of everything still scored 12 TDs. The separation was anything but temperate, as he signed with the NY Jets, and became a very vital player for them in his role with the team, rushing for 914 YDs.
Granted, he had some issues as well, with questions about his toughness, and playing through injuries, in addition with his manner when his teams weren’t playing well. But, to me, LT was still one of the best…ever.
Ending his career 5th all-time rushing, with an astonishing 13,684 yds, following only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Curtis Martin, all greats. And 3rd in total TDs, with 162 scores, behind only Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, both the all time benchmarks in their positions. Says quite a bit, especially since the fact that they each played 19 and 14 seasons, respectively, LT did it in just 11 seasons. He also added 624 catches, 2nd on the all time list for RBs, behind only Marshall Faulk. LT was another player who brought the RB position to another height. Marshall Faulk started it for me, LT was the next, that double threat who could easily bust a 65 yard run through the middle, or take a simple 4 yard screen pass and blow down the field for the TD reception is an amazing weapon to have. Every team wants to have that guy, the sure handed, and quick footed RB that can crush you either way.
LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the greatest RBs I have ever seen play the game. And what he did for the league will always be remembered with fond memories of his slicing up exhausted defenses with his quick feet, his swiveling shaded face mask and blistering speed.
With 9 seasons with double digits in rushing TDs, 7 seasons of 1200+ rushing YDs, and the league MVP in 2006 when he pummeled opponents for 1815 rushing YDs and 28 rushing TDs, the Bolts had a phenomenal runner and player, and the Jets benefited from a veteran who played with poise and respect, who still gave them 1100+ YDs and 9 TDs in his 2 seasons while playing there. He was one hell of a RB, who will always be looked at, by me, as one of the absolute finest to have ever played the position.
Written by Tony Karpinski of VegasTopDogs.com