By the Numbers: How Good Is LaDainian Tomlinson?

Jordan LeeAnalyst IDecember 29, 2007

Yes, you're probably tired of hearing how "classy" LaDainian Tomlinson is—the same way you're tired of ESPN's ongoing lovefest with the Patriots.

But I find it necessary to state the case for LT as one of the greatest running backs of all time—and perhaps one of the greatest by the time he hangs them up.

As I see it, Tomlinson already ranks with Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Emmit Smith, and Barry Sanders. Some will call that blasphemy, given that LT only has seven years of NFL experience to his name—but consider the man's body of work...


LaDainian Tomlinson's Accomplishments


Most TDs in a Season (31)
Most Rushing TDs in a season (28)
Most Points in a Season (186)
Most Rushing TDs in Chargers' History
Most TDs in Chargers History
Led League in Rushing TDs '04, '06, '07
Leads All Active Players in Rushing TDs (115)
Ranks third on Rushing TDs list (115)
Second among active players in TDs (128)
Seventh all-time on career TD list (128)
Seven straight years of 10 or more rushing TDs ('01-'07)
Six straight years of 15 or more TDs ('02-'07)
Second among active players in total points scored (768)


Rushing Yards

NFL rushing crown in '06, '07
Three seasons of 1m500+ rushing yards
Seven straight seasons with 1,200 or more rushing yards
Third among active players in rushing yards (10,594)
19th on all-time rushing yards list (10594)
Led league in rushing yards/game in '06 (113.4)
Leads all active players in rush yards/game (96.3)
Fourth all-time in rush yards/game (96.3)


Rushing Attempts

Ranks third among active players (2,349)
Ranks 21st all-time (2,349)
Finished sixth or higher in all seven seasons
Career average of 4.5 yds/attempt
Seven straight seasons with 300 or more carries



Only player with 100 catches and 1,000 yards rushing in a season
Ranks 27th among active players (457 rec)
Ranks 127th on all-time receptions list (457 rec)


Yards From Scrimmage

Three seasons with 2000 yards or more ('02, '03, '06)
Ranks fifth among active players (13,926)
Ranks 22nd all-time (13,926)
With 74 yards vs Raiders sunday, will be averaging 2000 yds/season

Yards From Scrimmage

Highest scrimmage yards/game average of any player in NFL history (126.93)



Led league in touches '01, '02
Third among active players in touches (2,806)
20th all-time in touches (2,806)
Never finished lower than third in touches in his career
Seven straight seasons of 350 touches or more



Named to Pro Bowl five times (2002, 2004-07)
All Pro Selection 2002-2006 (2007 announcement pending)
2006-2007 Most Valuable Player
2006-2007 co-Walter Payton Award Winner with Drew Brees
Joined Eric Dickerson as only players to start career with 1,200 rushing yards
Never missed a game due to injury
Through six seasons, had more carries, rushing yards, rushing TDs, receiving TDs, total TDs, receiving yards, and total yards than Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, and Emmitt Smith through their first six years


Average Season (through six seasons)

342 carries for 1,529 yards; 4.5 avg; 17 rushing TDs
65 rec for 483 yards; 7.3 avg; two rec. TDs
407 touches for 2,012 yds; 5.0 avg; 19 TDs



Comp/Atts: 8/11
Comp Percentage: 72.7 percent
Passing Yards:  143
TDs: 7
Passer Rating:154.4


There's an old saying that numbers don't lie—and LT's numbers are truly remarkable.

Just how remarkable?

Well, that's where this debate begins and ends. But there's one fact you can't argue with:

We're watching one of the greats, and we'd better enjoy it. 


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