Found June 18, 2012 on Fox Sports Southwest:
There comes a time in life when we all realize that we're not as young as we once were. Unfortunately, this also happens in the sports world, that time when an athlete realizes he can longer run, catch, pass or jump like he once could and now it's time to hang it up and begin a new chapter as a former player. Well, former TCU star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, or "LT" as everyone calls him, has reached that point. After 11 seasons in the NFL, he will retire this week where it all started for him, in San Diego with a one-day contract that allows him to call it quits as a Charger, where he did his best work as a pro between 2001 and 2009. Of course, he is a Waco native who burst onto the national scene as a senior at TCU, when he led the nation with 2,158 yards rushing and also scored 22 touchdowns, earning the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back and finishing fourth in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy. But his impressive list of accomplishments for the Horned Frogs proved to be only the beginning for this durable back. His impact with the Bolts was immediate as he ran for 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie for a San Diego team that finished 5-11 under then-head coach Mike Riley. He also earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, the first of five trips he'd make to the Aloha State during his career. Tomlinson followed that up by rushing for 1,683 yards and 14 touchdowns his sophomore campaign in the NFL and also caught 79 passes, which was then a career-high. He also carried the ball 372 times, which remains the most carries he's had in a single season. With each passing year in San Diego, not only did he firmly establish himself as one of the top running backs in the entire league, but he also showcased his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, something he didn't do a whole lot of during his time in Fort Worth. In fact, it was in 2003, just his third year in the league, that he caught 100 passes for the first and only time in his NFL career. He also ran for 1,645 yards and 13 scores that year for the Bolts, but his value as a receiver was always something that was a bit undersold by many when discussing why he was one of the top backs in the league during the prime of his career. However, his best season came in 2006, when he ran for 1,815 yards, scored an NFL-record 31 touchdowns and caught 56 passes, earning NFL MVP honors. This was when LT also won the first of two NFL rushing titles. He followed that up by winning a second straight rushing title in 2007, when he scampered for 1,474 yards but after running for just 1,110 yards in 2008 and 730 in 2009 as he got fewer and fewer snaps, it was clear his body had taken an incredible beating and that he wasn't the same player he was earlier in his career. Once he suffered an ankle injury in the '09 opener and missed the next two games, it seemed like the die was cast and his time as a Charger might be coming to an end. And even when that belief turned into reality and San Diego decided they didn't want him anymore after the '09 season, Tomlinson handled the whole situation with nothing but professionalism and sheer class. He cast aside any personal ill will he might have felt toward Bolts' General Manager A.J. Smith, instead choosing to take the high road and eventually ended up with a two-year deal to play for the New York Jets. In 2010, his first year with the J-E-T-S, Tomlinson nearly cracked the 1,000-yard barrier for a ninth time in his career, but in the end fell 60 yards short. Still, his comeback season was a great story and showed he might not yet be done. But he entered last season as New York's third-down back and was also there to help mentor starter Shonn Greene. LT finished last season with 730 yards on 75 carries, but it was clear his time in the league was nearing an end. So, over the weekend, news came out that he was going to sign a one-year deal with San Diego and retire a Charger, the way a career like his should end. All told, it was an impressive career, one where he leaves the game the holder of numerous franchise and NFL records, as someone who ran for at least 1,000 yards in eight of his 11 seasons in the league. Tomlinson also currently ranks the fifth-leading rusher in NFL history. His legacy is definitely secure as one of the finest running backs ever to play the game and it won't be a huge shock to see him be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he first goes up for consideration five years from now. He was also incredibly durable during his 11 seasons in the league, sure he did miss three games due to an ankle injury in 2009 with San Diego, but for the most part, this was a guy who was there to answer the bell each and every time it was rung. That's definitely saying something in today's NFL, especially at a position like running back where even the most durable guys can be chewed up and spit out after just a few productive seasons pounding the rock. LT's impact on fans was immeasurable, not only for those who cheered him on who went to TCU or those who backed the Bolts or the Jets, but also those fantasy football players who had him as cornerstones of their teams during his prime. It's a safe bet he'll always hold a special place in their heart since he likely helped many of them win their leagues and possibly a nice chunk of change and bragging rights in the process. On a personal note, this writer had the unique opportunity to shuttle Tomlinson around when he won the Doak Walker Award in January 2001. Not only did I find him to be as humble and affable as any athlete I have ever come in contact with, but even then one could see in the way he handled himself with fans and media that he was definitely a guy who got it in terms of not taking himself too seriously and realizing truly how blessed he was to be playing the same game he loved for a career. His No. 5 jersey at TCU has already been retired and it's very likely his No. 21 with the Chargers will also be retired at some point this year or maybe next. So, from all football fans from Texas and around the nation who had the honor of watching you play either in college or in the pros, thanks for the memories, LT. Your businesslike approach to the game and sheer grace with how you handled yourself, even in the twilight of your career only heightened your already considerable appeal. There won't be another one like you in the NFL for some time. We'll see you at Canton in 2017 or 18.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

LaDainian Tomlinson to retire Monday, next stop-Hall of Fame

The San Diego Chargers will announce later this afternoon that they will sign RB LaDainian Tomlinson to a one-day contract in order to allow the veteran running back to retire as a member of the team which drafted him 2001. Tomlinson was a free agent after playing out his two-year contract with the New York Jets, but drew no interest from teams around the league. The five-time Pro...

Report: LaDainian Tomlinson Set to Sign One-Day Contract With San Diego Chargers, Immediately Retire on Monday

LaDainian Tomlinson is heading back to the team that made him a superstar. But only for a moment. Tomlinson, the fifth-leading rusher in NFL history, will sign a one-day contract that will make him a San Diego Charger one last time and then promptly retire on Monday at an midday news conference, according to tweets sent out by the team's Twitter account. L.T. had spent the last...

San Diego Chargers sign LaDainian Tomlinson who will retire from football 

LaDainian Tomlinson has announced he will sign a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers so he can retire from the game of football where his career began. The Chargers drafted Tomlinson out of TCU in the first round back in 2001. LT found instant success in the NFL and will retire as the league's fifth all-time leading rusher.    The 2006 NFL MVP has spent the...

LaDainian Tomlinson to retire as a member of the Chargers Monday

LaDainian Tomlinson confirmed today what many had expected all offseason, that the future Hall of Famer would be hanging them up. Tomlinson will officially retire with the Chargers on Monday, after signing a 1 day contract with the team. Tomlinson spent 9 years with the Chargers after being selected with the 5th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft and had all of his best years with...

Chargers' great Tomlinson announces retirement

LaDainian Tomlinson announced his retirement Monday in San Diego, and there was no debate about his place in Chargers' history. "Few players, if any, have meant more to this franchise than LT. He was the heart and soul of this team through one of the most successful decades in our history," said team president Dean Spanos. "I couldn't wait to watch him play...

Tomlinson to retire with the Chargers on Monday

The San Diego Chargers said earlier today that LaDainian Tomlinson will re-sign with the team tomorrow and announce his retirement. Tomlinson was with the Chargers from 2001 through the 2009 season, winning the league MVP honor in 2006. Ceremonious 1 day contracts are nothing new to the NFL. Late last year, another great running back, Fred Taylor, signed a 1 day deal with the Jaguars...

LaDainian Tomlinson Announces His Retirement

LaDainian Tomlinson has decided to call it a Hall-of-Fame career, as he announced he will sign with the San Diego Chargers and retire where it all started for the 11-year veteran. Tomlinson will retire in 5th place on the all-time rushing yards list behind only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin. What is even more impressive is that LT is in extremely rarified...

RB Ladainian Tomlinson Will Sign to Retire a Charger

Running Back and Charger great Ladainian Tomlinson will end his storied career after 11 seasons in the NFL, nine of which were spent with the Chargers. He was drafted by the Chargers with the fifth overall pick. (Chargers originally picked in the number one and traded down with the Atlanta Falcons). The future Hall of Fame back leaves the league after a legendary list of achievements...

How LaDainian Tomlinson helped TCU get on path to the Big 12

TCU star’s impact on Horned Frogs is not forgotten LaDainian Tomlinson’s TCU career remains among the best in college football history. Photo: Dallas Morning News. The moment LaDainain Tomlinson first touched a football in a Pop Warner game, the legend started. Tomlinson, a Waco, Texas native, would go on to have one of the most successful careers in the National Football League...

No current veteran NFL RB will break Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record

Former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson signed a one-day contract to retire yesterday as a member of the franchise which drafted him in 2001. Tomlinson, a two-time NFL rushing leader finishes his career as the fifth leading running back with 13,684 yards. As the NFL game becomes more of a passing led offense, with teams creating more two-back tandems in backfields...

Morning Huddle - NFLPA's outside counsel pushes back

And to think this will all be behind us in the very near future. I'm missing Bountygate already! The NFLPA's outside counsel released a statement yesterday regarding Bountygate that can be found here. It's no secret that I almost never favor the NFLPA over the NFL, and this is no exception. To my less-than-unbiased perspective, the statement only sounds like a lot of...

NFL.com’s Gil Brandt says Barry Sanders is second-best RB of all-time

NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt has been around football for a long, long time.  Upon LaDainian Tomlinson’s retirement this week, Brandt decided to rank his top ten running backs of all-time.  At 79 years old and having worked as the vice president of player personnel of the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988 and as an analyst since then, Brandt is certainly well-qualified to...

Daily Links: Denver Broncos News – 6/18/12

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for more Broncos updates throughout the day. Denver Broncos News Analyzing Tomlinson’s career, Saints’ appeal, Banks’ comeback | Peter King Much news for what’s normally a sleepy Monday in June — bounty appeals today in New York, for instance — but let’s start the last Monday column before I take my summer break with some numbers from...
Jets News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.