After opening holes for LaDainian Tomlinson for many years in the backfield of the Los Angeles Chargers, Lorenzo Neal will now be the guy to welcome him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in less than one month.
Neal played for eight teams during his NFL career, but his time with the Chargers was by far the best. There, he and Tomlinson were teammates from 2003-2007. That included Tomlinson’s unforgettable 2006 season in which LT ran for 1,845 yards and 28 touchdowns, breaking the single-season record. To this day, it’s one of the best individual seasons in NFL history.
During their five seasons together, Tomlinson totaled an incredible 7,731 yards on the ground. It’s also likely no coincidence that in the years after Neal left the team, Tomlinson had his two worst years with the team in terms of yards gained.
Neal had the often thankless job of playing fullback, creating the big blocks that helped spring those huge runs that allowed Tomlinson to take the glory.
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LT likely won’t forget that during his upcoming speech.
“I’m just so grateful and elated, and I don’t take this moment lightly. It is the greatest honor of my career. There are so many other impactful players, and Hall of Famers who are still playing, to do it”, Neal told Ricky Henne of the team’s official website.
It will be reminiscent of when Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. That night, he thanked his fullback. Daryl Johnston, through tears. Tomlinson went one step further, deciding to share the podium with Lo-Neal.
Though Smith and Johnstin played together in Dallas twice as long as Tomlinson and Neal, the relationship shared by the two men who lined up together in the Chargers’ offensive backfield for five seasons was no less special.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony is always filled with joy and emotion, and this is sure to be one of those moments.