LaDainian Tomlinson announced his retirement Monday in San Diego, and there was no debate about his place in Chargers' history.
"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," said team president Dean Spanos. "I couldn't wait to watch him play because I knew I would see something special every week. And that's what he gave all of us: special memories we'll carry with us forever. And being here with him on the day he came into this league and the day retired is extra special."
Tomlinson is the NFL's fifth all-time leading rusher with 13,684 career yards. He retires after two seasons with the Jets and had 162 career touchdowns, including 145 rushing touchdowns, which is the second-most all-time to Emmitt Smith.
"I was fortunate to be with L.T. his rookie year," said Chargers coach Norv Turner, who also coached Smith in Dallas. "It was very evident that he was going to be a great player, a complete player with good fortune. He was going to have the career he had. There have been very few players in the NFL who have meant as much to their team than LT did during his career here. In particular, his MVP season in 2006. It would be hard to find a back that led the league in rushing and caught over 100 balls in separate seasons. It speaks volumes for his abilities and
what he was capable of doing."
Tomlinson can be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2017.
Tomlinson was the fifth overall pick in 2001 and made an immediate impact for the Chargers. He played nine seasons in San Diego (2001-09) and owns or is tied for a total of 28 team records, including marks for career rushing yards, rushing touchdowns in a season and total touchdowns.
Three players ahead of Tomlinson on the NFL's all-time rushing list -- Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders -- are enshrined in Canton
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