When I heard the news I did what any Chargers fan/blogger did. Stop everything and make sure that this was perfect to devote this time to the man. LT was the first, “Superstar,” from one of my teams that I have seen come and go. Needless to say yesterday was a big day for me as it was for most Charger fans.
The first time I have ever seen LT play in person was 11/6/2005. The Chargers were taking on the Jets and while I have noticed the amazing moves the man possessed on TV, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to watch. The numbers don’t even matter (107 yards rushing, 3 TD’s, 4.3 yards per carry, 46 yards receiving) it was the moves he made. The only player I have ever seen making cuts while moving forward. One play in particular, he met Ty Law and completely BROKE his ankles. At that very moment I knew I was watching something great. Yes, the Chargers won that game 31-26 and that was my first Chargers game ever.
Tomlinson showed true character on the field and played the game it was supposed to be played… with heart! It wasn’t about him it was about the team. I’ll never forget watching him score the touchdown against the Broncos to break the single season touchdown record. Players hoisted him up and he still tried to fight his way down to the ground. The man was completely selfless and would do anything to win a game.
To say that LT will be in the Hall of Fame is an understatement. His achievements proceed him as one of the most elite and versatile running backs in the history of the NFL. LT’s 162 career touchdowns ranks him third on the ALL TIME list, while his 13,684 rushing yards put him at number 5 all time. We all can’t forget that magical year in 2006 where he broke the single season rushing touchdown record and won the NFL MVP. Tomlinson put up 145 rushing touchdowns which ranks him second behind the all time rushing leader Emmitt Smith. LT also won the rushing title in 2006 and 2007, which is a great achievement to do it once not to mention consecutive years. In 2006 LT also took home one the most admirable awards… the Walter Payton award. Which just goes to show he was one heck of player off the field. He also holds many more records, to much name them all hear, as well as made the Pro Bowl 5 times.
I have had the honor to meet Tomlinson once and once is all you need to know him. When I went up to get his autograph I shook his hand and said, “I have been waiting since 2002 it is an honor to meet you.” “Thanks man I always appreciate still getting to meet big Charger fans,” Tomlinson said as he shook my hand. So as we conversed a little I told him that I would see him later for my picture with him. Little did he know how much of a character I actually am. It was my turn as I flung open the drapes and said, “I’M BAAAAACCCCKKK!” He had that big LT smile from ear to ear that we are so accustomed to seeing. So I asked him, “For my photo can I get matching tear drops, just ONE TIME for your boy?” Then it happened. A moment that I will never forget, and always cherish for the rest of my life, “Only if you do it too my man,” he replied. So as I left and said my final farewell and told him how much I actually owe him for his play for my beloved Bolts, before I went to walk out his last words before good bye were, “Man, you are one funny cat brother!” Needless to say that made my life, but you don’t see many athletes like that anymore. They just sign and say next. NOT LT! He gave you your own little moment that you could take, and cherish for your whole life. You have to have respect for that above all he has actually accomplished.
Yesterday may have been a sad day but what we look at in the past as to what we have gotten from LT, and you can’t be all that down. LT gave us a life time of memories, stories that we will tell our kids, and pride that we can call the Chargers OUR team. I can only imagine some of the things that were said from that man to some of the fans that followed him. I will make the trip out to Canton when he goes in, hopefully for the ceremony. When he goes though… Canton will never have another like him.
P.S.- Looking forward to some of your favorite LT memories below!