Some good news is finally coming out of Chargers park amidst all the controversy regarding the stadium issues and the status of Eric Weddle’s contract. It was announced this week that the San Diego Chargers will retire the number 21, now made infamous by beloved former running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The ceremony will be held during halftime of San Diego’s Thursday Night home tilt versus the Kansas City Chiefs on November 22nd.
In the coming days and weeks, the Boltblitz staff will be sharing their recollections and favorite LT anecdotes. All of you are welcome and encouraged to share your favorite LT memories and help us honor the greatest Chargers running back ever, campfire style. There are bound to be some moments in time some remember vividly while others may have forgotten. Read and enjoy.
My personal favorite memories are LT are many and they the length of his reign in San Diego. His body of work year by year became more and more impressive. There are few specific games that stood out more than others but moreso how he played. Barry Sanders was my favorite running back prior to his abrupt and shocking retirement. Watching LT reminded me of watching Barry with less shiftiness but more power and comparable breakaway speed.
As far as a specific game, the one that stands out the most is the week 14 home game against Denver in 2006 when he broke the single season rushing record. It was a ‘Do you remember where you were?’ type of moment for me. I remember that day very well. I always said the first pro football game I would attend would be a Chargers home game. On this day, I was working at the Arizona Cardinals home game as a vendor in one of the concession stands so it doesn’t count in my book since I was there in an official working capacity.
I took every opportunity to run errands because I found the TV in the food court showing the Chargers game. As I pretended to be cleaning up discarded plates and cups I watched that fateful late fourth quarter drive, fully aware of the moment because I could hear the commentary. It was a beautiful moment as Tomlinson scored touchdown #29 and was mobbed by his teammates. I stood in the concourse fist pumping like I was Tiger Woods and high-fiving a couple other Chargers fans that had walked up.
As his teammates raised him on their shoulders and LT raised the game ball aloft, I couldn’t have been more proud of him or more proud to be a Chargers fan. It’s a record that still stands and most likely will stand for a very long time with the near extinction of the every down, 25 carries per game running back. For almost a decade, LT was the most electrifying running back in the league and he still didn’t get his just due in my opinion. If he had played in a major market he would be heralded as the greatest ever by now.
I have a lifetime of LT memories. I will forever remember the long touchdown runs, seven touchdown passes, the beautiful leaps over the top of the pile at the goal line and the passion he played with on the field. I will remember the jarring stiff arm he made an art form as he ran downhill and away from would be tacklers, the receiving touchdowns and his method of leading by example. LT was something no athlete wants to be, a role model. He didn’t get in trouble with the law. Father. Husband. Family man. His workout regimen was legendary. He is a pillar of the community.
Just like LT, the Chargers and we Chargers fans will accept and appreciate all he did in putting the San Diego Chargers back on the map in a quiet, unassuming, typical easy-going California way. We will appreciate the AFC West titles, the rushing records and Pro Bowl nods with class, as Tomlinson did. No matter what happens with the relocation issue, LT is San Diego and it’s only fitting his number is retired IN SAN DIEGO.
The Greg One