When the best running backs are mentioned, names such as Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders are usually mentioned. With that being said, why isn't hall of famer LaDainian Tomlinson mentioned? Despite his incredible accomplishments, factors such as where he played and the fact that he never won a championship seem to have resulted in him being left out of the discussion for the greatest running backs.
Fresh off an amazing college career with TCU, Tomlinson was one of the top prospects and the San Diego Chargers viewed him as their savior in 2001. While winning didn't come right away, Tomlinson was immediately one of the league's best players. In his third season, he became the first running back to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in a season. In the following year, the Chargers made the playoffs for the first time in a decade with Tomlinson scoring 17 touchdowns. In 2006. he rewrote the record books in one of the best seasons for a running back, rushing for a career high 1,815 yards while tallying 508 receiving yards. His most impressive accomplishment was breaking the record for total touchdowns in a season with an amazing 31. The Chargers made the playoffs with a 14-2 record, but were upset by the hated Patriots in a heartbreaking loss. Frustration for Tomlinson only grew when his beloved mentor, coach Marty Schottenheimer was fired along with the death of Tomlinson's own father. For the next two seasons, he was still one of the top running backs in the league, leading the league in rushing in 2007, but his workload slowly started to decrease. He also dealt with injuries during the playoffs, and the Chargers eventually released Tomlinson following the 2009 season, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
It wouldn't take long however, for Tomlinson to find a new suitor. The New York Jets signed him to a two year contract. Tomlinson had a strong season rushing with 914 yards while totaling over 1,000 scrimmage yards. In the playoffs Tomlinson helped the Jets win a rematch of the AFC championship game over the Colts by rushing for two critical touchdowns. The next week, Tomlinson finally got revenge on the Patriots with a touchdown reception in another victory. After a quiet 2011 season, Tomlinson signed a one day contract to retire as a Charger.
As of now, Tomlinson is seventh on the rushing list with 13,684 yards. He is third all-time in 162 total touchdowns, and his 624 receptions ranks third among running backs. His all-around game made him stand out apart from other running backs. Besides running and receiving, he was known to buy his quarterbacks extra time to throw thanks to his ability to pick up blitzes. On top of that, Tomlinson was able to throw the ball. His seven career touchdown passes are the second most in NFL history for a non-quarterback.
So for all of his greatness on the field, why doesn't he currently get the recognition he deserves? One reason might be the increasing number of fans who never saw the Chargers play in San Diego. With the Chargers now in L.A., many fans in San Diego have abandoned the team. In addition San Diego was a really small market team on the west coast which kept Tomlinson from the spotlight. The Charger's failure to win a Super Bowl also played a factor the lack of recognition for Tomlinson's game. Although people might not realize it, Tomlinson deserves to be mentioned in the best of the best without debate.