LaDainian Tomlinson: A Great Player, Not a Great Leader

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 22, 2008

Webster's defines a leader as: a person who has commanding authority or influence.

Watching the Patriots vs. Chargers game on Sunday, I did not observe these crucial qualities in LaDainian Tomlinson.

I am not going to get into the fact that his injury does not seem serious enough to keep him off the field (although both Rivers, having recently undergone surgery, and Gates performed in that game). If it is safer for him to rest and let his leg heal, so be it.

However if you are considered to be the best player in the world and are forced to sit out, I would expect a little more than just warming the bench donning a parka and a Darth Vader helmet. The least he could have done was cheeer his teammates on, either limping along the sidelines to pump up his peers, or yelling from the bench if he really could not walk around.

Most often see an entourage crowding the sidelines at these games.  Whether they are injured players or guests with special passes, always they are running around or waving towels, doing whatever it takes to encourage those battling on the field. Again, I am not asking for LT to be a cheerleader and hobble around.  But he could at least do some motivating from the bench. He could at least take his hands out from his pockets and show some emotion.

At no point in that game, until Norv Turner decided to punt on fourth down at the Patriots 36 with nine minutes left, did anyone think the Chargers were out of that game. A little enthusiasm from their "leader" could have helped the team to win the game.

Let's not forget just who LT is. This is a guy who while being the best player, is also  quick to let us know what he thinks of his opponents, especially these "hated" Patriots. He called Patriots classless and has questioned their coach and leader Bill Belichick in terms of his off-field coaching. Before judging others, why doesn't LT himself act like a leader ON THE field?

They always say you discover a man's true colors during a time of adversity. Well during this time of adversity LT sat on the sidelines sulking.

Maybe this Chargers team would not talk so much and rather win more if they actually had a true leader. Maybe LaDainian Tomlinson still can learn how to be one, while rehabbing that "injured" leg over the offseason.

Hopefully then Tomlinson will show us that he does "command authority and influence" and define himself as a true leader. 

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