In truly clichéd fashion LaDainian Tomlinson signed a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers so he could carry on the time honored tradition of all Charger greats by leaving the game without a championship ring. I guess this should be the point in time when I set aside my grievances with all things San Diego to show proper respect for one of the best running backs to enter the game in the last 20 years. But I just can’t.
I can’t strip from my mind the many images of Tomlinson running through, around and over silver and black jerseys like Warren Sapp does a group of children when oven-fresh pizza is served at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
I’ll never forget 2006 when my girlfriend at the time made a noble effort to snap me out of a funk I was in by buying Raiders-Chargers tickets. We made the trek from L.A. to the Bay just to see Randy Moss suffer a rib injury in the first quarter and to watch in horror as LT ran, caught and threw for a TD.
Many moments like that are frozen in my mind. I would have reoccurring nightmares of that visor running by me in a blur so fast you weren’t sure if it was a Hall of Fame running back or Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe that just sped past.
Now let me make something clear. I’m not a complete hater. I had nothing but respect for Junior Seau. I always admired the way Derrick Thomas went about his business. To this day I’ll even argue that John Elway was the best quarterback I’ve ever seen. I even grew to like Steve Largent at one point in time. Every one of them an AFC West rival and every one of them I’d have gladly welcomed to the silver and black.
With LT it’s just something different. I know how nice the dude was. He killed my favorite team plenty of times and did the same to a few of my fantasy teams for good measure. However I’m not even going to debate his place in history. He’s not even in the convo for best running back ever in my mind. But I will say this much. He had a stretch of years that were as dominant as any we’ve ever seen from a running back.
That’s about as close as I’ll come to complimenting Tomlinson. Otherwise to me he’s just another Charger that teased his bandwagon fans with false Super Bowl aspirations. Say whatever you will of his absolute ownership of Oakland – it never amounted to anything more than bragging rights. You Dolt fans can have those. Bragging rights don’t come with a Lombardi trophy, at least not in San Diego.