LaDainian Tomlinson Retirement: Ranking the Top 10 Moments of LT's NFL Career
LaDainian Tomlinson is one of the baddest men to ever step on a football field. As you'll see in this slideshow, you could pick any of his top 10 moments and they would be the greatest highlight of almost any other running back's career.
Tomlinson played 11 seasons before retiring today, as reported by the Associated Press (per ESPN). His most productive years were with the Chargers, but he also made a significant impact on the Jets, as he played his last two seasons in New York.
He will retire with the second-most rushing TDs (145) and fifth-most rushing yards (13,684) in the history of the league.
LT was not just limited to rushing, either—he was a tremendous receiver out of the backfield, and is fifth all-time in yards from scrimmage at 18,456.
He was a joy to watch on the field, and now that he is officially hanging up the cleats, it is a good time to reflect on his greatest moments.
No. 10: First Game
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Drafted fifth overall in the 2001 draft, LT had big expectations accompanying him into the NFL. He wasted no time proving his lofty draft status was justified.
Against the Redskins in Week 1, he rushed for 113 yards and added two TDs. These numbers proved to be nothing out of the ordinary for LT, but it was certainly a sparkling debut.
No. 9: First TD Pass
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As if rushing, receiving and blocking weren't enough, Tomlinson could also throw the ball.
He threw 12 passes in his career and completed eight of them. Seven of those completions went for TDs.
His first came on a 21-yarder to QB Drew Brees in Week 4 of the 2003 season against the Raiders. This was the first pass he ever attempted in the NFL.
No. 8: 148 Receiving Yards
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Tomlinson retires with 4,772 receiving yards—a remarkable number for a running back. He had great hands and was good enough in his routes that he wasn't limited to screens and swing passes.
His best performance receiving the ball came in 2003, Week 14 against the Lions. He had nine catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. For good measure, he added 88 rushing yards. The Chargers won the game, 14-7.
No. 7: 2010 Wild Card Game
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Like most running backs, LT's numbers fell of the cliff as he began to age, but he certainly was still able to make an impact.
In the 2010 AFC Wild Card Game, the underdog Jets traveled to take on the Indianapolis Colts. They would win that game 17-16, and they can thank Tomlinson for that. He scored both of their TDs and had 82 rushing yards.
No. 6: Passing the Bus
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In his final season, LT rushed for just 280 yards. This was partly due to his declining skills and partly to the Jets' failures in the run game.
Despite his modest rushing totals, he was still able to pass Jerome Bettis for fifth on the all-time rushing list with a 56-yard performance against the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.
No. 5: 243 Rushing Yards
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LT destroyed the Raiders over the course of his career. His numbers against San Diego's rivals were good enough for a career for most RBs.
So it is no surprise that his career high in rushing yards came against the Silver and Black. In Week 17 of the 2003 season, he rushed for 243 yards in a 21-14 Chargers win.
As you can deduce from the picture, many of these yards came after LT handed out his patented stiff arm.
No. 4: 271 Yards from Scrimmage
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While his success against the Raiders can't be matched, they certainly weren't the only AFC West rival he dominated. Just ask the Denver Broncos.
In a 2002 Week 13 contest, Tomlinson rolled up an amazing career-high 271 yards from scrimmage.
In this game, he had 37 carries for 220 yards and 11 catches for 51 yards, with three total TDs. The Chargers won the game 30-27 in OT.
Look at that! He had 48 touches in a game. It is amazing that Tomlinson was so productive for such a long stretch with that intense of a workload.
No. 3: Setting the Rushing TD Record
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Tomlinson's most prolific year came in 2006. He led the NFL with 1,815 rushing yards and added 508 receiving yards.
He was also a touchdown machine—the likes of which the NFL had never seen. In Week 15 against the Chiefs, Tomlinson set the NFL record with his 28th rushing TD.
He had 199 rushing yards in that game, which the Chargers won, 20-9.
No. 2: Breaking TD Record
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As impressive as it was to set the all-time rushing TD record, it was almost anticlimactic.
By that point, it was just a matter of when he would break the record, not if—but the other big factor was that he had set the overall TD mark the week before.
In Week 14 against the Broncos, LT scored his 29th TD to break the record. He finished the season with 31 TDs.
No. 1: 2006 MVP
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Given that we just got done with two slides discussing his record-breaking 2006 season, it is no surprise that Tomlinson won the MVP award that year.
Tomlinson led the Chargers to a 14-2 record and picked up the well-deserved award.
The only thing surprising about this is that it was his only MVP award. The Chargers had tremendous success while LT was there, and you will be hard pressed to find one player who was more pivotal to his offense's success.