LaDainian Tomlinson San Diego Chargers & New York Jets
“I believe in working hard all the time. I have faith that working hard is going to get me where I want to go.”
Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson was selected by the San Diego Chargers with the fifth overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft. It was an easy choice based on Tomlinson’s exploits at Texas Christian. As a senior, he became just the second player in college football history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season and 5,000 in a career. A year earlier, he had set the NCAA single-game rushing record when he piled up 406 yards against UTEP.
Tomlinson immediately proved his worth at the pro level when he rushed for 412 yards and 6 TDs in his first four NFL games. He finished his rookie season with 1,236 yard and 10 TDs. The 1,000-yard effort was the first of eight straight campaigns in which he surpassed the mark.
An elusive and powerful runner, Tomlinson also was a very skilled receiver. He caught 59 passes his rookie year and had 50 or more catches in nine of his 11 seasons. In 2003, Tomlinson achieved a rare feat for running backs when he pulled in 100 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns.
Finding the end zone was a regularity for Tomlinson. The dynamic back scored 10 or more rushing TDs every season he played in San Diego (2001-09). Between 2004 and ’05, he tied a long-standing NFL record set by Baltimore Colts halfback Lenny Moore in 1965 of 18 straight games scoring a touchdown. That high-octane production resulted in five AFC West Division titles for the Chargers in a six-season span between 2004 and 2009.
Tomlinson was tabbed as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2006 when he rushed for a career-best 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns. Along with his three receiving touchdowns, Tomlinson’s 31 TDs and 186 points that season established new single-season NFL records.
Prior to the 2010 season, Tomlinson signed with the New York Jets as an unrestricted free agent where he continued to play for two more seasons.
A five-time Pro Bowl choice, Tomlinson’s career stats include 13,684 yards rushing (5th all-time) on 3,174 carries and 624 receptions for 4,772 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 145 career rushing touchdowns ranks 2nd in the NFL’s record book and his 163 total touchdowns rank third behind Jerry Rice (208) and Emmitt Smith (175). His 18,456 yards from scrimmage are 5th all-time.
A four-time All-Pro choice (2004-07) and All-AFC twice (2006-07), Tomlinson was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.