Jun 22, 2012
LaDainian Tomlinson decided to hang up his cleats one last time after signing a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers, allowing him to retire with the team that drafted him fifth overall in the 2001 NFL Draft.
LT2, as he was affectionately known by fantasy football fans across the country, quickly made a name for himself with his 1236 yard, 10 touchdown rookie season in 2001. He followed his breakout rookie campaign with six straight seasons of 1300 or more rushing yards, including a record setting 2006 season in which he scored 31 total touchdowns, including a 28 scores on the ground.
Tomlinson’s consistent play on the field made him a perennial top five pick in fantasy drafts, and the consensus number one pick in most fantasy mock drafts from 2004-2008. His record setting 2006 season is arguably the best fantasy performance by any player in history, and will forever place him in the pantheon of fantasy greats like Marshall Faulk, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, and Priest Holmes.
Off the field, Tomlinson was active in the community and founded the Touching Lives Foundation to distribute meals to needy families in the San Diego area. He has provided numerous scholarship opportunities to kids from his hometown in Texas, and his Camp LT program provides guidance to children in need.
When asked by a CBS news reporter about the importance of giving back, Tomlinson responded: “I think definitely, what I do off the field. People may remember something I did on the field for a couple of days, maybe a week. But the things that I do, and we do in the community is something that people remember for the rest of their lives. Because they’re touched by it.”
Now that his career is officially over, football fans will begin the arduous and mostly useless task of deciding where Tomlinson fits on a list of all-time greatest running backs. His 13,684 rushing yards is fifth all time, he scored the third most total touchdowns with 168, and his 31 total touchdowns in 2006 is still an all time record.
His statistics stand for them themselves, and his body of work will surely make him a first ballot Hall of Famer. The last two seasons of his illustrious career somewhat diminished his legacy, and the fact that he failed to win a ring will never allow him to be thought of in the same light as Emmitt Smith and Walter Peyton. However, his body of work between 2004 and 2007 was the most dominating rushing performance I have ever witnessed.