James Brown once said that "Money won't change you, but time will take you out." The Godfather of Soul could have been talking about all running backs when he unleashed that outstanding bit of philosophy, and one of the all-time greats is about to call it a career.
It was announced on Sunday morning that LaDainian Tomlinson
, the league's fifth all-time leading rusher, will retire after 11 seasons. Tomlinson, who played for the New York Jets over the last two seasons, will sign a contract with the Chargers in order to retire with his original team. Tomlinson will speak about his retirement at a Monday news conference.
Tomlinson was selected fifth overall in the 2001 NFL draft, and his impact was immediate. In his rookie campaign, he gained 1,236 yards on 339 carries, and scored 10 touchdowns. From 2002 through 2007, he averaged 1,569 yards and 17.5 touchdowns on 338 carries per season -- one of the greatest stretches of continued productivity the NFL will ever see.
And that's just on the ground -- Tomlinson was also one of the NFL's all-time great receiving backs. In 2003, he became the second back to catch 100 or more passes with 100 on the nose (fullback Larry Centers of the Arizona Cardinals caught 101 in 1995), and his career totals of 624 receptions for 4,772 yards and 17 touchdowns would be a pretty good career for any pure wideout. As much as Walter Payton or Marshall Faulk or anyone else you'd care to mention in NFL annals, Tomlinson was the very definition of the complete back -- the jack-of-all-trades who mastered every aspect of his game.
SAN DIEGO -- LaDainian Tomlinson's brilliant NFL career will officially end when he ceremoniously rejoins the San Diego Chargers
for a day.
The Chargers said Sunday that Tomlinson, who was the NFL MVP in 2006 with San Diego and is the fifth-leading rusher in league history, will re-sign with the team on Monday and then announce his retirement.
Tomlinson was drafted in the first round by San Diego in 2001 and became one of the biggest stars in team history, helping revive the Chargers after the devastating Ryan Leaf years and turning them into a force in the AFC West. He spent the first nine years of his career in San Diego. He played the last two seasons with the New York Jets
Tomlinson won the MVP in '06, when he set NFL single-season records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing, and 186 points. He ran for a career-high 1,815 yards that year, giving him the first of two straight league rushing titles.
The five-time Pro Bowler finishes his career with 13,684 yards and 145 rushing touchdowns (second all-time). His 162 total touchdowns are third-best in NFL history behind Jerry Rice (208) and Emmitt Smith (175).
Tomlinson spoke at the public memorial service for Junior Seau on May 11, drawing the biggest cheers of the night.
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