Tomlinson to call it quits after 11 NFL seasons
LaDainian Tomlinson’s brilliant NFL career will officially end
when he ceremoniously rejoins the San Diego Chargers for a day.
The Chargers said Sunday that Tomlinson, who was the NFL MVP in
2006 with San Diego and is the fifth-leading rusher in league
history, will re-sign with the team on Monday and then announce his
Tomlinson was drafted in the first round by San Diego in 2001
and became one of the biggest stars in team history, helping revive
the Chargers after the devastating Ryan Leaf years and turning them
into a force in the AFC West. He spent the first nine years of his
career in San Diego. He played the last two seasons with the New
Tomlinson won the MVP in ’06, when he set NFL single-season
records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing, and 186 points.
He ran for a career-high 1,815 yards that year, giving him the
first of two straight league rushing titles.
Tomlinson finishes his career with 13,684 yards and 145
Tomlinson spoke at the public memorial service for Junior Seau
on May 11, drawing the biggest cheers of the night.
Perhaps his most memorable moment with the Chargers came on Dec.
10, 2006, when he swept into the end zone late in a game against
the Denver Broncos for his third touchdown of the afternoon to
break Shaun Alexander’s year-old record of 28 touchdowns.
His linemen hoisted him onto their shoulders and carried him
toward the sideline, with Tomlinson holding the ball high in his
right hand and waving his left index finger, while the fans chanted
”L.T.! L.T.!” and ”MVP! MVP!”
When the Chargers released him in February 2010, quarterback
Philip Rivers said: ”I had the best view in the house on some of
those awesome runs he made.”
Tomlinson had said recently that he might continue his career if
the right opportunity was available. Some fans hoped the Chargers
would bring back Tomlinson as a third-down back, but that appeared
impossible as long as general manager A.J. Smith was in
Tomlinson had a less-than-smooth separation from the Chargers.
The slashing, dazzling runs came less frequently and Tomlinson was
slowing down because of injuries and age. He became less and less
the face of the franchise as his role was reduced in a pass-happy
offense. The Chargers would have been on the hook for a $2 million
roster bonus, along with a $5 million salary.
Days after his release from the Chargers, Tomlinson held a
tearful news conference at the suburban country club where he and
his wife lived.
L.T. also had a public tiff with Smith.
A year before the Chargers released Tomlinson, Smith came under
fire for mocking a statement Tomlinson made about wanting to stay
in San Diego.
Tomlinson’s squeaky-clean image took a hit during the AFC
championship game loss at New England in January 2008. Forced out
early with a sprained knee, Tomlinson watched glumly from the
sideline, huddled in a parka and his face hidden behind the tinted
visor on his helmet.
The Chargers were less than truthful in giving an overly
optimistic prognosis about his injury during the game, announcing
that he had a ”sore knee and can return.” That caused fans and
commentators to question his toughness.
Tomlinson said afterward that it was obvious he couldn’t play.
Coach Norv Turner got miffed when a reporter asked what Rivers and
Antonio Gates should think when they played hurt but Tomlinson
”That’s the stupidest thing you could ask,” Turner said. ”The
guy was not able to go. The doctors and trainers said he couldn’t
Burned by that experience, Tomlinson – always the most brutally
honest employee in the Chargers’ organization – was forthright with
the media when he sustained a serious groin injury in the 2008
regular-season finale. Tomlinson’s honesty caused Smith to
That groin injury sidelined Tomlinson in a divisional-round
playoff loss to Pittsburgh, the first time he missed a game due to
injury in his pro career. He had been slowed earlier that season by
a toe injury.
He sprained his right ankle in the 2009 season opener against
Oakland and missed the next two games.
He ran for 914 yards in 2010 with the Jets, but carried only 75
times for 280 yards last season, playing mostly on passing