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