Class of 2017 Enshrinee
Following a record setting career at TCU, Tomlinson was drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Tomlinson is the first player from the 2001 NFL Draft and just the third former Horned Frog to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Bob Lilly and Sammy Baugh.
During Tomlinson’s rookie season in 2001, he rushed for 412 yards and six touchdowns through his first four NFL games and finished the season with a total of 1,236 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns while capturing Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Tomlinson would go on to rush for 1,000 or more yards in each of his next seven seasons in the league, joining Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas, and Steven Jackson as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 or more yards in their each of their first eight seasons in the NFL.
Throughout his 11-year NFL career, Tomlinson earned the reputation as a versatile threat to opposing defenses. Along with 13,684 career rushing cards, the fifth most in NFL history, Tomlinson also racked up 4,772 receiving yards on 624 catches. He also showcased his passing skills, throwing for seven career touchdowns which are the second most (behind Walter Payton) among NFL running backs since the NFL-AFL merger.
On December 28, 2003, Tomlinson rushed for a franchise-record 243 yards in a 21-14 win over the Oakland Raiders in the regular season finale. His performance marked the fourth and final game of his career in which he rushed for over 200 or more yards. The Chargers were a perfect 4-0 when Tomlinson ran for 200 or more yards.
In 2006, Tomlinson had a season for the record books. On December 10, he broke the single-season record for rushing touchdowns with his 28th touchdown of the year in a 48-20 win over the Denver Broncos to clinch the AFC West Division. Tomlinson also set the NFL single-season records for most points (186) and most total touchdowns (31) on his way to MVP honors, while leading the Chargers to a 14-2 regular season record and playoff berth.
“As an offensive lineman -- and you could probably include tight ends and fullbacks in that equation -- you were really inspired to get your block and stay on your block because you knew that his ability to break off a long run and finish off a game at moment’s notice was right there in the power that LaDainian Tomlinson held in his feet.”
-Nick Hardwick, Tomlinson’s teammate with the San Diego Chargers from 2004-2009
“Every time I touch the ball, I think I'm going to go all the way. I think I'm going to score a touchdown. I'm the runner I am because I think that I'm going to go all the way every single time I touch the ball.”
-LaDainian Tomlinson, Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017
"It was almost impossible to defend him...Because he had hands like a receiver, he had feet like a ballet dancer and had a heart like a lion -- any time that you have all of those things, you just never know what you are going to get...What made him the hardest thing to deal with was that he always kept a calm demeanor. You never could rattle him. He always stayed true to himself."
-Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker
"He made everyone around him better. He was a phenomenal leader. When LT spoke, everybody listened. And he backed it up with his actions, more so than anything he could ever say."
-Drew Brees, Tomlinson’s teammate with the San Diego Chargers from 2001-2005
"People and players like LaDainian Tomlinson don't come around very often, if at all...His humility and work ethic made it clear why he will be remembered as one of the game's best players.”
-Woody Johnson, New York Jets chairman and CEO
"He inspired me because of the respect he had around the league. I think he's a great human being, and that's one of the things I really respected about him. That's how I've gone about doing things. No matter how much leeway you have, you still work the same, just like if you're a rookie. Ten years in, he was still working harder than everybody else around him."
-Bilal Powell, Tomlinson’s teammate with the New York Jets in 2011
“LaDainian has had a tremendous impact on the league, not only as a player but also as a person with great character and it shows by the respect his peers have for him and how well known he is to the public. He accomplished many great things as a player, but I don’t know of any player recently who has left the game with as much admiration and respect from his peers as LT enjoys. And that might be an athlete’s most cherished accomplishment.”
-Emmitt Smith, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2010
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