People resist change. In the “Not For Long” NFL, admitting our favorite players are on the decline is difficult at best. Sometimes we just flat out refuse to believe they are no longer electrifying, and are somehow stunned when they are ultimately released from the teams they used to star for.
Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison was one such staple we never thought we would have to do without. Harrison is second in NFL history in receptions not only because he was a dominating player, but also because he played for 13 years.
Well guess what, the man is now 37 years old. Although he had a reputation for being one of the more durable players around, he still took a beating all those years and finally succumbed to injury in 2007 which hastened his fall from grace. Yet it is so hard for us to fathom that he is not only not a Colt, but he is not on any NFL roster at this point.
With that said, here is another reality playing out that some NFL fans are still finding hard to admit.
The most explosive play maker in the San Diego backfield is not named LaDainian Tomlinson.
I feel kind of sorry for LaDainian Tomlinson, I really do. The piece ESPN ran before the Chargers-Raiders Monday Night Football clash was borderline embarrassing frankly. L.T. challenging the notion that he has lost a step, and essentially claiming that he is still the best running back in the NFL. I guess he doesn't watch any Minnesota Vikings games.
L.T. is not even the most explosive running back on his own team. Darren Sproles can score from anywhere on the field, and has the elusiveness and speed to make things happen like LaDainian used to. The shortest player in the league, Sproles is a dangerous weapon. He is lightning in a bottle.
L.T. used to wow us with his nimble feet, his acceleration, his viscious stiff arms, and his straight line speed. He used to run with a purpose. He ran angry.
Yet, did you see the game on Monday Night Football versus the Raiders? L.T. can't beat the defenders to the edge, because he has lost a step. He doesn't bounce off of tacklers, and pardon me I know it sounds sacrilegious, but he goes down too easily.
Need more proof that Sproles is the new go to guy in San Diego? Who was in the Chargers backfield in the two minute drill, and who scored the winning touchdown? Sproles of course.
The official report is that L.T. turned his ankle and was gimpy, and that is why he wasn't on the field. To me it seems like a convenient way for the team to soothe L.T.'s ego. He has earned the right to be handled with care, there is no doubt about that. He is after all one of the best running backs of all time and an eventual Hall of Famer.
Now lets be clear, I am not saying L.T. is completely done, he may very well lead the team in rushing and have a solid year. But notice I said “solid”-that is simply not something that has ever been uttered in reference to the great L.T. in the past. My condolences LaDainian, you have had a Hall of Fame career but it is clearly winding down.