This weekend marks the official start of the NFL playing season, as the annual Hall of Fame ceremony takes place in Canton, Ohio. This year, Ken Stabler, Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, Tony Dungy, Dick Stanfel, Orlando Pace and Edward DeBartolo, Jr. join the ranks of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After we see their busts and listen to their speeches, there will be a game played on Sunday night. The Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts kick off the NFL preseason slate in the annual Hall of Fame game.
This whole process is familiar to San Diego Chargers fans, who just last year watched legendary linebacker Junior Seau earn his moment, highlighted by an incredible speech by his daughter, Sydney.
It won’t be long and Chargers fans will get to experience this again. In fact, it will be just one year from now. Yes, that means I’m calling LaDainian Tomlinson a first ballot Hall of Famer.
No one is going to seriously debate against LaDainian Tomlinson as a first-ballot HOFer, right?
— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) August 3, 2016
Getting in on the first attempt is something only a small percentage of players accomplish, but let’s be honest, we’re talking about one of the greatest running backs in NFL history and arguably the greatest player in franchise history.
At his best, LT was one of a kind. He could do it all. Run inside, run outside, catch passes, pick up blitzing defenders. He was competitive and wanted to win as much as anyone. He was the face of the Chargers for many years… many of the team’s best years.
13,684 rushing yards, 124 touchdowns. He also hauled in 624 receptions and had another 17 touchdowns through the air. He currently ranks No. 5 on the league’s all-time rushing yardage list and every other guy in the top 10 is in the Hall of Fame.
There is no doubt that Tomlinson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The only question is when. There are some voters out there who feel almost no one should get in on the first ballot, but I can’t imagine what your argument would be against Tomlinson.
Not only did he have the stats, he played the game with passion and respect. Remember when he’d score a touchdown? You wouldn’t see him throw popcorn in his face or pretend to propose marriage to a cheerleader, he would just hand the ball to the referee. When you’ve been there before, you should act like it. No one exemplified that more than LT.
It’s sad that he was never able to capture a championship with the team he played with for nine seasons, particularly in 2006. That year, the Chargers finished 14-2 and had won 10 games in a row entering the playoffs. But excitement quickly became a nightmare when the New England Patriots came into Qualcomm Stadium and defeated the Chargers 24-21. It was the only time Tomlinson ever really lost his cool. It was the only time those around the league ever really questioned his personality.
Tomlinson came unglued when he saw the Patriots stomp all over the Chargers logo following the game while mocking Shawne Merriman’s “Lights Out” dance. It was a tough moment, but who can blame LT? He was just standing up for the teammates and organization he loved? Rather than question his personality, I commended his loyalty and competitive spirit.
Unfortunately, Chargers fans never got to hear what Seau would have wanted to say in front of his fans. But if you watch the ceremony this weekend, sit back and think about what Tomlinson will say when he’s up there next year. That moment will come, and it will be a special, well deserved moment for one of the all-time greatest players in NFL history.