LaDainian Tomlinson always knew he would 'retire a Charger'
LaDanian Tomlimson spent nine seasons as a member of the San Diego Chargers, and his legacy will live on forever.
The Chargers announced Wednesday that Tomlinson, the team's first-round pick in 2001, will have his number retired and be inducted into team's Hall of Fame later this year.
"I'm honestly speechless," Tomlinson said Thursday during a press conference held by the team. "I don't even know how I feel about having my number retired forever. The fourth Charger to do that. Man, it's amazing."
Tomlinson joins Lance Alworth (19), Dan Fouts (14) and the late Junior Seau (55) as those who have received this honor.
Chargers president of football operations John Spanos opened the press conference by telling a story about how he came to know Tomlinson, dating all the way back to 2001, when Spanos, a college student at the time, was the Chargers representative at the 2001 NFL Draft.
When Spanos learned Tomlinson would be the Chargers pick, he also found out he would be required to get up on the stage to present Tomlinson, who was present at the draft, with his jersey.
Draft night was the first time Spanos met Tomlinson, and it's a night Spanos says he'll never forget -- because it was that night when he realized the Chargers were drafting a first-class human being, not just a first-class football player.
"From Day 1, LT's been nothing but humble, driven and everything you want in a football player," Spanos said.
Tomlinson was rewarded for his hard work by receiving three first-team All-Pro selections, three second-team All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowl selections, to go along with being named Most Valuable Player and Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2006.
Few played the game like Tomlinson. And as Spanos rightly said Thursday, "he (LT) has a chance to score every time he touches the ball."
Some thought this day might not come. When Tomlinson left the Chargers via free agency after the 2009 season, there was this idea that his relationship with the team soured, leaving him to play his remaining football years elsewhere.
"The plan was always for me to come back and retire a Charger. ... It was always in the back of my mind," he said.
Tomlinson's official Chargers Hall of Fame induction won't take place until Sunday, November 22 at Qualcomm Stadium, when the team takes on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.
With this season possibly being the last the Chargers play in San Diego, Tomlinson's induction needed to happen now, so the fan base that supported No. 21 can honor what most certainly will end up being a career worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.