New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson acknowledged today that this weekend’s contest against the Miami Dolphins could be his final game in the NFL. The 32-year-old Tomlinson will be a free agent at the end of the season and considering his limited production over the past two seasons in New York it’s not out of the question to think he won’t be a hot commodity this offseason.
Tomlinson spent the first nine years of his career with the San Diego Chargers where he firmly established himself as one of the great running backs of all-time. Tomlinson broke records repeatedly while with the Chargers and annihilated previous marks for the youngest player to attain several milestones.
He was the NFL’s MVP in 2006 after a ridiculous season in which he rushed for 1,815 yards and an incredible 28 touchdowns. He also caught 56 passes for 508 yards and three more scores. That might be the best single season by a running back in NFL history and it will stand as a benchmark against which all other great years are measured.
Tomlinson will easily be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He has been a five-time Pro Bowler and a six-time All-Pro selection. He also holds a ton of NFL records, here is a not-so-brief list of some:
-Single-season touchdown record (31)
-Single season rushing touchdown record (28)
-Most points scored in a season (186)
-Most games with two or more rushing touchdowns (38)
-Most games with three or more rushing touchdowns (12)
-Most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (18)
-Most consecutive games with two or more rushing touchdowns (eight)
-Most consecutive seasons with 1,300-plus rushing yards (six)
-Most seasons with 10 or more rushing touchdowns (nine)
-Most seasons with 13 or more touchdowns (seven)
-Most seasons with 14 or more touchdowns (six)
-Most seasons with 15 or more touchdowns (six)
-Only player to have 18 or more touchdowns in four different seasons
-Sixth on all-time rushing list (13,628 yards).
-Fifth on all-time yards from scrimmage list (18,377 yards).
-Second all-time in rushing touchdowns (145).
-Third all-time in touchdowns scored (162).
That is one hell of a resume, and while as a Chargers fan I’d like to see Tomlinson end his career on a high note playing well and getting consistent carries, it would be hard to argue with him hanging ’em up after this season. He is far too great to be remembered simply as a situational back on an average Jets team.
Leg injuries have robbed Tomlinson of some of the burst and wiggle from his earlier days, but we’ll always remember him for the guy he was back in 2006 when he was setting records and absolutely dominating professional football.
If Sunday is his final game we wish him well. No player in NFL history has given me more enjoyment as a viewer than Tomlinson and he has always been one of the nicest, classiest guys in the league.