LaDainian Tomlinson spent nine incredible years in San Diego. Tomorrow, Tomlinson will have the opportunity to make it nine years and one day as he will re-sign with his former team and immediately announce his retirement as a San Diego Charger. Going back twelve years, it wasn’t always a given that LT would be part of the San Diego franchise. The Chargers had the #1 pick heading into the 2001 draft and were in position to draft quarterback Michael Vick from Virginia Tech, but the San Diego front office saw the TCU running back who was sixth all-time in NCAA rushing yards, and decided to fall back 4 spots and draft LT. San Diego traded picks with the Falcons and Atlanta drafted Vick #1, and although the QB had immediate success as an exciting impact player, his troubles with the law are well documented. While Vick was sentenced to prison following a 2006 investigation which caused him to miss the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the TCU RB was showing the NFL what an NFL MVP and class citizen looked like.
Even as they drafted him, the San Diego brass couldn’t have known how fantastic Tomlinson would turn out. He came into camp the first summer and made it known that he was the starting running back for the franchise’s future. LT missed only one regular season game from 2001 through 2008, rushing for over 1,100 yards in every season. When Tomlinson left the Chargers, his 12,490 yards placed him as the eighth all-time leading rusher in NFL History. He was also able to amass 138 career rushing TD’s, which was second all-time. His best season was in 2006, which happened to be Mike Vick’s last year before serving his jail sentence. Tomlinson won the MVP as he set the new NFL single-season records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing. He won the league rushing title for the first time in his career, and then followed that up in 2007 by rushing for another 1,400 yards and another rushing title. LT left the Chargers to join my team, the New York Jets, but had already obviously cemented his Hall of Fame status in his years as a Charger.
LT signed with the Jets to be a veteran leader and a third down option in the backfield, allowing Shonn Greene a rest every now and then. While Tomlinson accepted whatever role the Jets offered him, as he saw an opportunity to win a Superbowl with the Jets and wanted to help in any way possible, his play was way to good to keep him as a backup to Greene. LT managed to rush for 915 yards with 6 TD’s, which happened to be 150 yards more than Greene ran for during the regular season. When the Jets came up short in the playoffs in 2010 and then failed to make the tournament last season, one of the players I believe all fans felt the worse for was Tomlinson. He was an incredible player as his numbers dictate, but the one thing missing from his resume in all his years with the Chargers was a Superbowl victory. The Jets offered him a good shot, and when they failed to capitalize against the Steelers in the AFC Championship, many wondered if LT would get as close again. His retirement tomorrow now let’s us know he won’t.
LT currently holds 36 different NFL records, which are obviously too many to write about. I believe that he has earned a spot in the hall of fame as a rare first ballot hall of fame inductee, so hopefully in 2017 we’ll be writing about how great his speech was when he is inducted. When LaDainian went to the Jets, he still expressed a desire to eventually retire as a Charger, even though he had a tumultuous relationship with Charger GM A.J. Smith when he departed. As a Jets fan, I am saddened by seeing Tomlinson leave our organization, but as an NFL fan I can respect the fact the LT was possibly the greatest Charger of all time (no disrespect to Junior Seau or Kellen Winslow), and to see him work out his difficulties with Smith so San Diego can honor him on his retirement day is really wonderful to see. Tomlinson has the personality and intelligence of an individual who will succeed in any future endeavors he partakes in, and we wish him all the success that a true gentleman and NFL icon deserves.
Check out the sick highlight reel to see LT at his greatest
Debate of the Day: Is Peyton Manning’s decision to play for the Denver Broncos the correct decision?
NyBobby’s Take: No, Peyton Manning is absolutely making a mistake. He should not sign with Denver, he should not sign with Miami, in fact he should not be signing a contract to play with anyone. We have seen this story before and it never ends well for the legendary Quarterback who has taken his talents to another city after playing an entire career in one. Look at Favre, Montana and Unitas. Peyton Manning was drafted a Colt, played a great 13 years with their organization and should have retired in Colt blue and white. He is to the Colts what John Elway is to Peyton’s new team: The all-time franchise Quarterback. Elway knew when to hang it up, Peyton needs to follow suit.
Peyton Manning should really be joining either ESPN, CBS, NBC or another analyst position. He could also pursue a career in coaching, in which I’m sure the Colts would have been glad to oblige. Everyone has seen Peyton in countless TV commercials and SNL skits. He is extremely personable, has a great sense of humor and seems to be one of those people who will succeed in any path of life. That is if he chooses to walk away while he possesses the capacity to think clearly.
I know he has the desire to be on the field as a player, but Manning has to consider the risk. Is one or two more years really enough to risk a potential life altering injury? His neck fusion surgery still has complications and he is at an advanced age in which injuries don’t heal as quickly. He is not a mobile QB, never was, and at 38 he will be less so. As a QB, Manning will be sitting in the pocket, and will undeniably take a ton of hits. There is no way to know that he will be his former self and if he takes another shot to the head or neck, there is no guarantee that he can enjoy the same quality of life as he could now if he just walks away.
Peyton has accomplished everything in the NFL imaginable. 13 seasons all with one franchise. Third in passing yards in NFL history, a Super Bowl Ring, Super Bowl MVP and multiple NFL regular season MVPs. Unless he is feeling pressure to finish with more Super Bowl’s then his little brother, I can’t see the force that would make him undergo this risk. We all know Peyton Manning is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame already. As a fan, I’d prefer to see him walk to the podium to deliver his speech under his own power.
Matthewtodderich’s Take: Peyton Manning is 100% making the correct decision. Let’s start with easy reasons. First, the Denver Broncos are coming off a successful season where they not only won the AFC West, but they also upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. The final play of the Broncos Steelers game was an 80 yard overtime touchdown pass to Peyton’s future favorite target Demaryious Thomas. Secondly, the Broncos also had the best rushing defense in the league last year with a very young team that will only get better.
Some people might question whether Peyton coming back to football at all is the right decision. To those people, all I have to say is “4 MVP’s.” Yes he suffered an injury that can be career ending but he also went through an entire season of rehab and passed every physical examination to this point. Since being drafted #1 out of Tennessee by the Colts he has only proved to be nothing but flawless.
The “Free Agency Era” started back in 1993 and to this day no one has been more sought after then Peyton himself. I believe that the talent Peyton posses and the team he has chosen to go to with fit perfectly together. They are my early preseason pick to not only win the AFC West again but to definitely make some noise deeper into the playoffs. If John Elway can make Tim Tebow look like a playoff caliber quarterback then God only knows what he can do for arguably the greatest quarterback ever.