Another glittering career came to end this week with LaDainain Tomlinson announcing his retirement from football. The future Hall Of Famer called it a day on a career that spanned 11 years, 9 as a Charger and the last 2 as a Jet.
Unlike the majority of you that follow the site, the NFL was not embedded into my blood from the moment I opened my eyes. I feel that I speak for the majority of fans on my side of the pond when I say that LaDainian Tomlinson one was of the few faces that fans like myself were treated to on a regular basis. Watching in awe as this unbelievable athlete wowed us with his magic on the field.
For those few that I've lost already, being as this is a Jets site let me explain. Those of you outside of the USA will relate to this more than others, as it's a familiar pain/story to you. Being a Jets fan has been tough for us all, add to the equation of not being able to watch regularly (a blessing some of you might say). Over the last few years things have improved drastically thanks to the excellent coverage by Sky Sports, ESPN and channel 4 (who originally teased us all during the 80's with an hour long show of highlights).
As the NFL became a regular feature on the TV around the year 2000, you'd find the Chargers gracing the TV set on quite a regular basis. This resulted in a distant admiration for LT's talent, despite the fact we had our own future HOFer in Curtis Martin.
Cutting a long story short I feel that I speak for many fans (over the pond) in saying, that LT was the first running back that I watched regularly over a span of a few years. I was memorised by his ability not only to run the ball, but his all around game. LT was my, I guess you could say mentor, in regards to learning the skill set required to be a competive and affective running back within the NFL. My affection for LT was also fueled by the fact he'd go head to head with Brady during the playoffs, (that said I'd root for anyone playing the Pats).
You can imagine my delight when someone I'd admired from a distance became a Jet in 2010. Along with this, head coach Rex Ryan had elevated the status of the Jets to a now prime time commodity outside the USA. Finally, I no longer felt alone as a Jets fan. During LT's first year with the Jets he carried the load as impressively as he had done during his time in San Diego, racking up yards and touchdowns, gracing the AFC championship game.
The following quote sums up the true professional that LT was, with age now against him you can only admire and sit in awe of such a guy when this came out of Jets West during the 2011 off season/lockout.
"I would love to be the best third-down back in the league. I'd love to be that. I've been the best running back in the league before. Now, at the end of my career, I'd like to be the best third-down back."
Despite playing a lesser role in the Jets offense in what proved to be his last year, LT still played a pivotal role, not only on the field, but also in the locker room amongst the unrest.
During a glittering career that no doubt will end in the Hall Of Fame LaDainian Tomlinson had 13684 rushing yards and 145 touchdowns.
I feel that I speak not only for Jets and Chargers fans but for football fans in general in saying that it was an honor to have you grace my teams colors and a sheer delight to watch you on game day. Thank you for the wonderful memories and for being that one person outside of the Jets organization that installed a hunger/love for the NFL. Here's to your retirement LT.
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