LaDainian Tomlinson officially retired yesterday after signing a one-day contract with the team that drafted him number five overall out of TCU in the 2001 NFL Draft. LT is not just the greatest player in Chargers' history, but one of the greatest players in NFL history, regardless of position. He could do it all from the running back position: he ran inside and outside, caught balls better than a lot of wide receivers, was an excellent blocker, read defenses, and could even throw when the team got into the red zone. He was the definition of a complete back and complete player, and the quintessential teammate. He finished his career fifth all-time in rushing yards, second in Rushing TDs, and third in TDs by non-QBs.
An argument could easily be made that he's the greatest back in football history when you consider his wide range of skills and the fact that he didn't always play behind a tremendous line or with great receivers around him aside from Antonio Gates. Tomlinson led the league in rushing twice, was the league MVP in 2006 when he set the single-season TD record with 31, and was a graceful and exciting player to watch on top of all of the awards he's accumulated and records he's set.
I would love to one day meet LT, who is easily my favorite football player and will remain as such. A certified autograph of his as a Charger is extremely high on my needs list, and an in-person autograph and a picture with the legendary back would be the cherry on top. The above 2007 Topps Co-Signers Yellow Printing Plate was had for around fifteen bucks, and is the cornerstone of my modest Tomlinson PC. It's one of those cards that just wouldn't scan straight, no matter how many damn times I tried. It's still bothering me quite a bit.
In his retirement press conference, Tomlinson said, among other things, that "I always felt like I was a Charger. The guys, my teammates -- the bond we built
and the battles we won together -- it was special, and I always felt in my heart that I was a Charger."
Congrats on a phenomenal career LaDainian.
You were truly a pleasure to watch.