What's This Noise I Hear About the "Old" L.T.?

Eric GomezAnalyst IOctober 16, 2008

Fans are fickle, stubborn creatures.

New Yorkers booed Babe Ruth out of the Bronx when it became apparent that the Bambino couldn't hit 'em out like he used to.

Basketball fans everywhere shook their heads when Michael Jordan came out of retirement for a second time and displayed faded skills.

There was even some apprehension when Mario Lemieux came back to the NHL in 2001 at the age of 35.

While those scenarios involved legends who were clearly past their primes (and yet still pretty much deserving of our unadulterated adoration), recent talk circling LaDainian Tomlinson is unnecessary and just plain wrong.

This is the "old" LT.

That man right there, the one who's rushed for 100 yards only once this season. He who has just four touchdowns in seven games.

The player who can be taken down after a three-yard gain when in years past it would be a 30-yard gain.

Pros and amateur bloggers/Bleacher Creatures alike have discussed the topic heavily this season, with opinions ranging from L.T. having an understandable slowdown after several stellar seasons, to L.T. is past his prime and declining—quickly.

Most of these columns casually mention the elephant in the room and then move on.

L.T. is playing hurt.

Tomlinson, a finesse back, relies on cuts, jukes, and other assorted fancy footwork to get where he's going on the field.

His toe and knee have been bothering him since the end of the 2007 season. Clearly, this has been a huge factor as to why L.T. isn't putting up video-game-style numbers this season.

Tomlinson has been splitting carries with Darren Sproles and rookies Jacob Hester and Mike Tolbert this season, and yet L.T. NFL&year=season_2008&sort=40&timeframe=ToDate" target="_blank">ranks among the Top 10 backs in rushing yards and touchdowns in the NFL.

Clearly, this is cheap controversy, designed to perk up slow days on SportsCenter as filler content under the guise of thought-out journalism.

Think about it: What's going to draw your attention? A headline that says "L.T. is doing what L.T. usually does; nothing new to report here", or "IS L.T. PAST HIS PRIME AND WASHED UP???"

I'm sure L.T. pays no heed to these comments himself and relishes the extra pressure. Always a vocal leader on his squad, Tomlinson is a gamer who sets out every season with one goal in mind: hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Already one of the best running backs in NFL history, reports of his demise are being greatly exaggerated.

He knows, and I know.

It's just fans being fans; having short memories.