LaDainian Tomlinson Release the Right Move by San Diego Chargers

Dave HoganContributor IIFebruary 23, 2010

SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 10:  San Diego Chargers fans hold up an 'LT' sign honoring LaDainian Tomlinson against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 10, 2005 in San Diego, California. The Steelers defeated the Chargers 24-22.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Football fans are a nostalgic bunch—so much so that it clouds our everyday judgment.

In fairness to LT, we quickly forget that Super Bowl champions are led by all-time great quarterbacks and not running backs.

We forget that the game has changed and that pounding the ball between or outside of the tackles is rather perfunctory nowadays—window dressing to keep the defense honest.

However, let us be fair to the management of the Bolts too: Nostalgia also clouds and glosses over the fact that for three full seasons we waited for LaDainian Tomlinson to once again show us a semblance of the magic that was the 2006 campaign.

Twenty-eight touchdowns, an amazing season, yet the team disappointed with another dismal finish with a playoff loss at home to the Pats.

As recently as December 2007, we saw LT on CBS' 60 Minutes. When I saw his workout regimen and his positive attitude, it was clear LT was superhuman. I never would have suspected his career was so quickly drawing to a close here in SD. Again, nostalgia and wishful thinking.

So much for the Sports Illustrated jinx. There is no 60 Minutes jinx. There is only the reality of turning 30, and the razor-thin line between star-like and sundry performance.

Looking at LT's San Diego career, it is clear that management made the right move. As far as rushing yardage, the graph would look like Mt. Everest. He started with a 3.6 yard per game average and finished at 3.3 in San Diego. Unfortunately, he is in on the downhill side of his career.

The one thing LT was consistent at, though, was expressing frustration after a loss and coming across as a sore loser. Calling out Bill Belichick is fine, but use it as offseason motivation instead of wearing it on your jersey during the post-game. 

Maybe he was watching ABC's hit series, but saying you are Lost after going 1-2 is pretty much a hopeless bummer of a statement to start a season. This year, after another disappointment, it was proselytizing; saying your teammates have forgotten the three fundamentals—faith, family, and football—is patronizing at best.

Now I know my comments are heresy to most of the Bolts faithful. However, to me, it seems like you find out a lot about a person during troubled times rather than the good times. That is just his football persona though. 

I also don't need to hear about the loss of LoNeal or the lack of blocking. An all-time great like LT should be able to find a way to get it done regardless of circumstance.

I know LT is a great guy off the field. I think Philip Rivers said it best: You cannot just replace him as a running back. Off the field he is exemplary, giving, and a great civic leader. Hopefully LT will remain in San Diego in that capacity.

Alas, LT was never one to let the dust settle before talking, yet he never made headlines for unseemly behavior off the field either. I just hope that when his retirement ceremony is held, it is fun and upbeat, like Junior Seau's was—without the New England detour.