L.T. loyal to Charg­ers, San Diego af­ter move

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Bernie Wil­son

SAN DIEGO» One of the great­est mo­ments in San Diego Charg­ers his­tory came on Dec. 10, 2006, when LaDainian Tom­lin­son swept left and into the record book.

With the ca­pac­ity crowd at Qual­comm Sta­dium on its feet, Tom­lin­son scored his third touch­down of the day and his 29th of the sea­son, break­ing the NFL’s sin­gle-sea­son record.

He was en­gulfed by his mas­sive of­fen­sive line­men, hoisted onto their shoul­ders and car­ried to­ward the side­line. Tom­lin­son held the ball high in his right hand while wav­ing his left in­dex finger as the crowd chanted “L.T.! L.T.!” and “MVP! MVP!”

Tom­lin­son fin­ished with 31 touch­downs, 28 rush­ing, in one of the great­est sea­sons in NFL his­tory. He also ran away with the Most Valu­able Player Award.

Those mag­i­cal days are long gone, as are the San Diego Charg­ers. They of­fi­cially ceased to ex­ist on Jan. 12, when chair­man Dean Spanos an­nounced he was movize ing the team to a Los An­ge­les sub­urb.

The San Diego Charg­ers will live on, though, Tom­lin­son through play­ers such as Tom­lin­son, who will be in­ducted into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame on Satur­day.

Many fans are still an­gry at Spanos for bail­ing for Los An­ge­les, where the Charg­ers will play in a 30,000seat soc­cer sta­dium be­fore mov­ing into a sta­dium be­ing built by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Some have been fur­ther in­censed be­cause Tom­lin­son, once uni­ver­sally beloved in San Diego, has taken a job as a spe­cial as­sis­tant to Spanos.

Tom­lin­son said he isn’t con­flicted in the slight­est as he pre­pares to ac­cept his Hall of Fame bust.

“I’m go­ing in as a San Diego Charger be­cause that’s who I played for,” Tom­lin­son said. “And I rec­og­nize that you can­not erase the his­tory of 56 years in San Diego. How­ever, I do real- that I now work for Dean Spanos and the L.A. Charg­ers, and so there’s no con­flict there.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Hall of Fame, the only other per­son to be en­shrined the same year that the team he played for re­lo­cated was Or­lando Pace from the class of 2016. His St. Louis Rams moved back to L.A. last sea­son.

Tom­lin­son played nine mostly bril­liant sea­sons for the Charg­ers (2001-09) be­fore be­ing re­leased for salary cap rea­sons and be­cause his role had de­creased. He played two sea­sons with the New York Jets be­fore re­tir­ing.

Tom­lin­son rushed for 12,490 yards and 138 touch­downs with the Charg­ers, club records by far. He won NFL rush­ing ti­tles in 2006 and 2007.

Tom­lin­son fin­ished his ca­reer with 13,684 yards rush­ing, fifth all-time, on 3,174 car­ries. His 145 rush­ing touch­downs rank se­cond and his 163 to­tal TDs are third, be­hind Jerry Rice (208) and Em­mitt Smith (175).

Hall of Fame num­bers for sure.

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