LaDainian Tomlinson certainly tells you what he feels. No sugar coating, no humoring anyone. Appearing on NBC's SportsTalk, Tomlinson chose between making it into the Hall of Fame or winning a Super Bowl ring.
Hall of Fame player without a ring because you’ve got to sacrifice so much individually just to be good, Tomlinson said. They draft you individually and you’ve got to back them up and make them right. I think at the end of the day, even though I didn’t win a Super Bowl ring, I felt like I backed them up for drafting me. I backed up the San Diego Chargers for picking me with the fifth pick.
LT didn’t take the popular stance here. When asked if you would rather make the Hall of Fame or win the Super Bowl the answer is supposed to be right out of the Crash Davis school of dealing with the media.
“I’m here to help the team.”
“We take them one game at a time.”
And so on and so forth..
The answer is supposed to be that you would rather win a Super Bowl ring. But I think LT makes a great point and has every right to prefer the bust in Canton to the ring on his finger.
Being a Hall of Famer is the highest reward a player can get. It’s recognition of a career that ranks as the best of all time. You didn’t get hot for a season or two. You didn’t get the benefit of all the stars and moons lining up just right, allowing you to pitch one of the 22 perfect games in baseball history.
You sustained excellence over a long career and proved to be better than almost anyone else in your generation.
Yes, it’s an individual achievement in a team sport. Before lambasting LT, let’s keep the answer in context.
LT didn’t say he played more for his individual statistics than for team wins and a championship. He said now that his career is done and he looks back, he would choose being a Hall of Famer over a Super Bowl champion because it meant he not only performed individually but overachieved compared to his peers.
His pride drives him to justify his draft position. That can only be done based on his individual performance, understanding the role his teammates play in that performance. But, especially for a running back, his performance relies much more on him.
We have to understand the context of the question. LT wasn’t asked if he would rather have a season’s rushing title or a Super Bowl win. He was asked if he would rather be remembered in eternity as one of the all-time greats or as someone who was part of a team that was the best that particular season.
There have been thousands of players fortunate enough to be part of a championship team.
Keep in mind that Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson have rings while Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton don’t.
Keep in mind that Robert Horry has seven rings and even the unforgettable Darko Milicic has one, while neither Karl Malone nor Charles Barkley do.
I know the popular stance is to rip Tomlinson for being selfish. I don’t see it that way at all. His individual career is the pure test of his performance. His pride drives him to justify his employer’s decision to draft him as highly as they did.
I welcome any and all opinions on this and please vote in the poll.
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