Posts Tagged ‘LaDainian Tomlinson’

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Antonio Gates wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to see LaDainian Tomlinson officially become football royalty.

After several days of uncertainty about whether Gates would be at his former teammate’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday – uncertainty that started after a report suggested the Chargers wouldn’t let Gates and Philip Rivers miss training camp to attend – the veteran tight end ultimately got the green light.

But that’s not to say he was really seeking permission. As Gates told Marty Caswell of Mighty 1090 before the ceremony got underway, he was prepared to make the trip to Canton, Ohio even if the Chargers fined him for a brief training-camp absence.

“Absolutely,” Gates said. “I would’ve paid the fine twice to be here.”

Rivers didn’t join Gates for Saturday night’s induction ceremony, but the quarterback did pass along a congratulatory video message recorded from the end zone where Tomlinson broke the single-season touchdown record in 2006.

The star trio combined to lead a stellar offense in that season and each of the three that followed, posting top-five scoring finishes and capturing AFC West titles in four straight years.

LaDainian Tomlinson pleaded for racial unity and harmony during his Hall of Fame speech, a common theme of the evening amid a turbulent political climate.

The former Chargers running back recounted a story of his great-great-great grandfather coming to the United States on a slave ship from West Africa, and called for harmony in these polarizing times.

“The family legacy that began in such a cruel way has given birth to generations of successful, caring Tomlinsons,” he said Saturday. “I firmly believe that God chose me to help bring two races together under one last name: Tomlinson. I’m of mixed race, and I represent America. My story is America’s story. All our ancestors, unless we’re American Indian, came from another country, another culture. Football is a microcosm of America. All races, religions, and creeds living, playing, competing side by side.”

Tomlinson continued, invoking the message of change championed by former President Barack Obama.

“On America’s team, let’s not choose to be against one another. Let’s choose to be for one another. My great-great-great grandfather had no choice. We have one. I pray we dedicate ourselves to be the best team we can be, working and living together, representing the highest ideals of mankind, leading the way for all nations to follow. One of the most eloquent orators of our time said it best in his farewell address. Paraphrasing and humbly building upon what President Obama said, ‘We all have to try harder, show up, dive in and stay at it.’ I am asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change, to hold fast to the faith and the idea whispered by slaves: ‘Yes, we can.'”

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LaDainian Tomlinson paid his respects to his former coach, Marty Schottenheimer, during Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Tomlinson, arguably the greatest player in Chargers history, lauded Schottenheimer as the greatest coach he had during his decorated career.

“I spent nine years with the San Diego Chargers. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer was the best coach I ever had, and we won five division titles,” Tomlinson said. “Marty, would you and your wife, Pat, please stand to be acknowledged?”

The crowd then broke out into a “MARTY!” chant to honor the 73-year-old. Schottenheimer, who is battling Alzheimer’s, was visibly moved by Tomlinson’s shout-out.

It should be noted that three of the division titles Tomlinson referenced were won under the guidance of head coach Norv Turner.

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Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is blocking veterans Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates from attending the Aug. 5 Hall of Fame induction ceremony for their former teammate, LaDainian Tomlinson, sources told Alex Marvez of Sporting News.

Lynn is insisting that Rivers and Gates participate in the Chargers’ training camp session instead, adds Marvez, which will be their first at StubHub Center.

Gates is still considering attending the ceremony despite Lynn’s wishes, even if he’s fined, one source told Marvez.

Marvez notes that it’s common for teams to grant exceptions for active players to attend Hall of Fame ceremonies for former teammates, pointing to the Arizona Cardinals allowing Larry Fitzgerald to miss practice for Kurt Warner’s induction this weekend.

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LaDainian Tomlinson will always be a Charger, regardless where the team is located – he hopes fans can understand that.

After taking a position as special assistant to Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos this week, Tomlinson has received criticism that he “sold out” by sticking with the team after it left San Diego.

Tomlinson, known for his relaxed personality, responded to that criticism Friday.

“That’s so strange to me,” Tomlinson told the Darren Smith Show of Mighty 1090, according to Pro Football Talk’s Michael Gehlken. “I think people, in general, they try to pin one against the other. I don’t think that’s fair at all. For one, I’m not a person who hates. I’m not a person that can stay angry at someone. I’m quick to forgive; maybe that’s a fault of mine.

“I’m not the type of person to say, ‘Well, I played for the San Diego Chargers, and I’m not going to support the organization anymore.’ I don’t work like that. I’m not built like that.”

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductee spent nine years of his career with the Chargers in San Diego. While he eventually went on to record-breaking success with the team, he remembers a time where his career was not so bright, which only made his connection to the team stronger.

“There was a time early in my career where we weren’t very good in San Diego,” recounted Tomlinson. “I had opportunities to say, ‘You know what? I don’t believe in the organization, the city. I don’t think we’re going to get a stadium. I don’t think we’re going to win. I’m going to get out of here.’

“I could’ve done that, but me, being the type of person I am, I wanted to stay there because I’m loyal to a fault. I was loyal to San Diego … So how can I sit here and say, ‘Oh, I played for San Diego, but forget about the brand; forget about the Chargers?'”

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chargers will retire LaDainian Tomlinson’s No. 21 jersey during halftime of their game Sunday against Kansas City.

Tomlinson joins Lance Alworth (No. 19), Dan Fouts (No. 14) and Junior Seau (No. 55) as the only Chargers to be so honored. He will also be inducted into the team’s hall of fame as its 38th member.

”This is a moment that doesn’t happen often,” Tomlinson said Friday. ”I don’t know if there is a bigger accomplishment than to get your number retired and to go up in the ring of honor.”

The 36-year-old Tomlinson was the team’s top pick in 2001. He rushed for at least 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons, leading the NFL twice during that time.

He was the NFL MVP in 2006, when he set a single-season record with 31 touchdowns. His 28 rushing TDs were also a record.

Despite being a three-time All Pro selection and making the Pro Bowl on five occasions, Tomlinson said he never envisioned his jersey hanging in Qualcomm Stadium.

”When you are a player, the only thing you think about is trying to win games,” said Tomlinson, now an NFL Network analyst. ”Yes, you recognize that special things like this happen but you can’t see yourself in that position because you are still in the thick of things, still entrenched in being a player.”

After playing his last two years with the New York Jets, Tomlinson retired in 2012. He finished with 162 touchdowns (No. 3 all-time), 13,684 yards rushing (No. 5) and 4,772 yards receiving. Of his eight career completions, seven went for touchdowns.

LaDainian Tomlinson’s famed No. 21 will be retired by the San Diego Chargers in a ceremony on November 22, when the franchise hosts the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tomlinson joins Dan Fouts, Lance Alworth, and the late Junior Seau as the only players to have their number retired by the club.

Upon retiring from the NFL, Tomlinson was the fifth-leading rusher of all time with 13,684 yards. He scored the second-most rushing touchdowns ever with 145.

“This is a special, special opportunity for the Chargers family and all Chargers fans,” Chargers chairman Dean Spanos said in a statement. “Few players, if any, have meant more to this franchise than LT. He was the heart and soul of this team through one of the most successful decades in our history. I couldn’t wait to watch him play every week because I knew I would see something special. And that’s what he gave all of us: special memories we’ll carry with us forever.”

Tomlinson is most famous for setting the single-season rushing touchdown record, scoring 28 times on the ground in 2006, a mark that still stands nearly a decade later, earning him MVP honors.

He was selected to the Pro Bowl five times, leading the league in rushing in 2006 and 2007. The 35-year-old is eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017. Tomlinson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December 2014.

Tomlinson was selected fifth overall in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Chargers out of TCU. The superstar rusher spent the first nine years of his career with San Diego, and played his final two campaigns with the New York Jets before retiring in June 2012.