LaDainian Tomlinson
LaDainian Tomlinson
Tomlinson playing for the Jets.
No. 21
Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: June 23 1979 (1979-06-23) (age 41)
Place of birth: Rosebud, Texas
Height: 5 ft 10 in Weight: 221 lbs
Career information
College: Texas Christian
NFL Draft 2001; Round: 1 / Pick: 5th
Selected by the San Diego Chargers
Debut: 2001 for the San Diego Chargers
Last played: 2011 for the New York Jets
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • 5x Pro Bowl
  • 3x 1st team All-Pro
  • 2006 NFL AP MVP
  • 2006 NFL PFWA MVP
  • 2006 NFL Newspaper Ent. Assoc. MVP
  • 2006 NFL Bert Bell Award (Player of the Year)
  • 2006 NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2006 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year
  • Fifth-leading rusher of All-Time
  • Walter Payton Man of the Year (2006)
  • Bart Starr Man of the Year Award (2007)
  • NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
  • San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team

LaDainian Tomlinson (born June 23, 1979) is a retired American football Running back in the NFL for eleven seasons. He played college football for Texas Christian University (TCU), earned consensus All-American honors, and was recognized as the best college running back. The San Diego Chargers chose him with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, and he spent nine seasons with the Chargers before moving to the New York Jets as a free agent. He played with the Jets for two seasons before retiring after the 2011 season.

Tomlinson, often referred to by his initials, L. T., was selected to five Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro six times. Tomlinson won two rushing titles, in 2006 and 2007. At the time of his retirement, he ranked fifth in career rushing yards (13,684), seventh in all-purpose yards (18,456), second in career rushing touchdowns (145), and third in total touchdowns (162). During the 2006 NFL season, he set several records and received numerous honors and awards including the NFL's Most Valuable Player Award and the Associated Press' Offensive Player of the Year Award.

Early yearsEdit

Tomlinson was born to Loreane Chappelle and Oliver Tomlinson in Rosebud, Texas. His father left the family when Tomlinson was seven years old.[1] Tomlinson did not see his father very often afterwards.[2] His mother worked as a preacher. At age nine, Tomlinson joined the Pop Warner Little Scholars football program and scored a touchdown the first time he touched the ball.[1]

Tomlinson attended University High School in Waco, Texas, where he played basketball, baseball, and football. Tomlinson began his football career as a linebacker, but blossomed on the offensive side of the ball. Tomlinson amassed 2,554 yards and 39 touchdowns his senior year, earning honors as the District 25-4A Most Valuable Player, Super Centex Offensive Player of the Year.[3][4]

Tomlinson was an avid Dallas Cowboys and Miami Hurricanes fan during his youth. He especially idolized Emmitt Smith, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Walter Payton.[4][5][6]

Collegiate careerEdit

Tomlinson was recruited by many schools, but he was not considered one of the nation's top running backs coming out of high school. Many felt this was because Tomlinson did not play running back until his senior year and many top colleges had already made their recruiting choices by then. Thus, Tomlinson accepted an athletic scholarship to attend Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, a small university that was then a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), and to play for the TCU Horned Frogs football team from 1997 to 2000. Prior to Tomlinson's arrival, TCU had appeared in only one bowl game in the previous 12 seasons (and two in the previous 34), and had recently been "downgraded" to a minor conference (the WAC) after the breakup of the Southwest Conference.

During Tomlinson's freshman and sophomore years, he split time with Basil Mitchell. In the 1998 season he helped the Horned Frogs to their first bowl win in 41 years against the University of Southern California in the Sun Bowl.[7] During his junior season in 1999, he set an NCAA record for most rushing yards in a single game with 406 against UTEP, a record that still stands today. He ended the year with an NCAA-leading 1,850 yards rushing to go along with 18 touchdowns.

In his senior season in 2000, Tomlinson led the NCAA for the second time with 2,158 yards and 22 touchdowns, and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American.[8] He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back, and was a finalist for the Heisman, but came in fourth in the voting. He completed his college career with 5,263 rushing yards, ranking sixth in NCAA Division I history.[9]

The school retired his jersey (No. 5) during halftime of a November 2005 game against UNLV.[10] In December of that year, Tomlinson fulfilled a promise to his mother by earning his degree in communications from TCU.[11]

College awards and honorsEdit

Professional careerEdit

2001 NFL DraftEdit


The San Diego Chargers selected Tomlinson in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft, as the fifth overall pick. The Chargers possessed the draft's first selection, but traded the pick to the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted Michael Vick.[12] In this way, many consider that Vick and Tomlinson were "traded" for each other, although the transaction was actually the result of traded draft picks.[12]

In exchange for San Diego's first draft pick, with which Atlanta selected Vick, the Chargers received Atlanta's #5 pick (used to draft Tomlinson), Atlanta's third-round (67th overall) pick, which San Diego used to select Tay Cody, and Atlanta's second-round pick in 2002, which San Diego would use to select Reche Caldwell.[13] San Diego also received Atlanta's wide receiver Tim Dwight. The Chargers' general manager, John Butler, made the deal contingent on San Diego receiving Dwight, to which Atlanta agreed.[14]

Pre-draft measureables
Weight 40 yd 20 ss 3-cone Vert BP Wonderlic
221 lbs (100 kg)* 4.38s*[15] 4.21s* 6.84s* 40.5 in (102.9 cm)* 18* 13*
(* represents NFL Combine)

San Diego ChargersEdit

Tomlinson immediately became the starting running back with the Chargers. He achieved immediate success in the NFL, rushing for over 1,200 yards and making over 50 receptions in each of his seven seasons. He also proved to be an effective passer, completing eight career passes, seven of them for touchdowns and maintaining a career passer rating of 154.4. [16] Tomlinson ran for 1,236 yards on a bad team in his rookie season.[17] In 2003, he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and record 100 receptions in the same season.[18] He also reached his 50th career touchdown in his 4th season (60th game) and was elected to the Pro Bowl team in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. Tomlinson also tied Lenny Moore's all-time record for consecutive games scoring a TD (18).

After a contentious off-season negotiation, Tomlinson and the Chargers came to an agreement on March 10, 2009 to restructure his three-year contract so that he may remain a Charger.[19]

Template:Quote box Tomlinson suffered an ankle injury on opening day of the 2009 season against Oakland and missed the next two games.[20] The offensive line was impacted by injuries during the season,[17][21] and Tomlinson's production declined with career lows in rushing attempts (223) and yards (730).[22] He scored 12 touchdowns, but his yards per carry was a 3.3 average.[22] The Chargers were last in the league in yards per carry, also averaging 3.3.[20] The Chargers finished with a 13–3 record, winning 11 in a row, without a strong running game.[17] They were upset in the second round by the wild-card New York Jets. After much speculation about Tomlinson's future with the team, the Chargers released Tomlinson on February 22, 2010, after nine seasons with the team.[22] Many experts attributed his decline to his age (30) and injuries.[22][23] In his farewell news conference, Tomlinson said his production declined after the 2006 season when Schottenheimer departed. He felt that the team's focus on running dropped under Turner;[23] he later referred to Turner as a "passing coach". The San Diego Union-Tribune, in an article titled "No doubt: Norv wants to run ball", wrote that Tomlinson enjoyed success in his rookie season with Turner as offensive coordinator, as well as in Turner's first season as San Diego's head coach in 2007. The article also cited Turner's history coaching 1,000 yard rushers, including Emmitt Smith's three NFL rushing titles.[17] Tomlinson lamented the team's release of fullback Lorenzo Neal after 2007, but Neal was not a starter the next season with Baltimore.[24]

Tomlinson left the Chargers ranked eighth among NFL career rushing leaders with 12,490 yards. He also ranked second with 138 career rushing touchdowns, and third with 153 total touchdowns.[22] He became the fastest player to reach 150 career touchdowns (137 games).[25] Tomlinson expressed a desire to eventually retire as a Charger, but acknowledged a difficult relationship with Chargers general manager A. J. Smith. He said he "felt disrespected" by comments Smith made in the past.[26] McClatchy Newspapers wrote in 2011 that Tomlinson was likely to have his number 21 retired by the Chargers once he retires.[27] Bob Wick, the Chargers equipment manager, said he tried to keep No. 21 out of circulation, even though it had not been officially retired.[28][29][30]

New York JetsEdit

Template:Prose For the first time in his career, Tomlinson entered the free-agent market, with many teams expressing interest. Despite the fact that Tomlinson still believed that he was a number one caliber running back, he would be forced to split time with another running back and after various contract negotiations, Tomlinson signed a two-year, $5.2 million contract with the New York Jets on March 14, 2010.[31] Tomlinson chose to sign with New York because he felt more comfortable with the team's philosophy, personnel and he felt the team offered him the best chance to win a championship.[32][33]

Tomlinson recorded his first 100 yard rushing game in nearly two years on October 3, 2010 against the Buffalo Bills.[34] In the game Tomlinson also passed Tony Dorsett for 7th on the all time rushing list.

On October 31, 2010, Tomlinson reached another career milestone joining Walter Payton as the only players in NFL history to gain 13,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards receiving.[35]

On December 6, 2010 against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, LaDainian Tomlinson passed Eric Dickerson for 6th on the all time rushing list.

On December 19, 2010 LaDainian Tomlinson reached another milestone by passing Marcus Allen for 6th on the all time yards from scrimmage list.

He finished the season leading the Jets in rushing with 914 yards, though it was widely thought he would be a complement to Shonn Greene, whom he outrushed by 148 yards.[36] It was also Tomlinson's first year in his entire career that he did not record double-digit TDs, as he recorded a career low of 6.

He rushed for 82 yards on 16 attempts and ran for both Jets touchdowns in a 17–16 victory over the Colts in the AFC wild card playoffs.[37] Against the Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoffs, the Jets won 28–21 as Tomlinson rushed for 49 yards on 10 attempts and caught a touchdown. It was his 7th career postseason touchdown.[38] In the AFC Championship Game against the Steelers, the Jets were down 24–10 in the fourth quarter when Tomlinson was unable to score a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal from the one yard line. The Jets went on to lose 24–19.[39] Tomlinson had nine carries for 16 yards.[40]

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said after the season that he expected Tomlinson back for 2011 but "things could change."[41] With Greene designated as the starting running back for 2011, Tomlinson began the season as a third-down back and caught six passes for 73 yards in the season opener.[42]

On September 25, 2011 against the Oakland Raiders Tomlinson caught an 18 yard touchdown pass for his 160th career touchdown, joining Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice as the only players to score 160 career touchdowns.[43]

On October 9, 2011 against the New England Patriots Tomlinson became the 6th player in NFL history to reach 18,000 yards from scrimmage. On October 23, 2011 against the San Diego Chargers Tomlinson became the 4th running back in NFL history to have 600 career receptions, joining Larry Centers, Marshall Faulk, and Keith Byars. On November 13, 2011 against the New England Patriots Tomlinson passed Barry Sanders for 5th on the all time yards from scrimmage list. On December 18, 2011 against the Philadelphia Eagles Tomlinson passed Keith Byars for 3rd on the all time career receptions list for running backs. On January 1, 2012 against the Miami Dolphins Tomlinson passed Jerome Bettis for 5th on the all time rushing yards list.


On June 18, 2012, Tomlinson signed a ceremonial contract with the San Diego Chargers and then immediately announced his retirement.[44] At the time of his retirement, Tomlinson ranked fifth in NFL history in career rushing yards (13,684), second in career rushing touchdowns (145), and third in career total touchdowns (162).[45]

NFL Regular season statisticsEdit

Year Team G Att Yards TD Fum Avg Rec Yards TD PAtt PComp Pct. Yards TD INT
2001San Diego Chargers163391,2361083.6593670000000
2002San Diego Chargers163721,6831434.5794891000000
2003San Diego Chargers163131,6451325.31007254111002110
2004San Diego Chargers153391,3351763.953341121503800
2005San Diego Chargers163391,4621834.351370243754730
2006San Diego Chargers163481,8152825.25650833266.72020
2007San Diego Chargers163151,4741504.7604753111001710
2008San Diego Chargers162921,1101113.8524261100000
2009San Diego Chargers142237301223.3201540000000
2010New York Jets15219914644.2523680000000
2011New York Jets1475280103.7424492000000
Totals 1703,17413,684145314.36244,7721712866.714370

NFL Post season statisticsEdit

Year Team G Att Yards TD Fum Avg Rec Yards TD PAtt PComp Pct. Yards TD INT
2004San Diego Chargers12680003.19530000000
2006San Diego Chargers123123205.32640000000
2007San Diego Chargers32875112.55400000000
2008San Diego Chargers1525105.0000000000
2009San Diego Chargers11224002.0300000000
2010New York Jets335141204.06191000000
Totals 10131468613.6251761000000


  1. 1.0 1.1 Savage, Jeff (2009), LaDainian Tomlinson, Lerner Publishing Group, pp. 9–10, Template:Citation/identifier 
  2. Edwards, Ethan (2008), Meet Ladainian Tomlinson: Football's Fastest Running Back, The Rosen Publishing Group, p. 6, Template:Citation/identifier 
  3. Tomlinson, Loreane (2009), LT & Me: What Raising a Champion Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Listening to Your Dreams, Tyndale House Publishers, pp. 103, Template:Citation/identifier 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Jock Bio: LaDainian Tomlinson", (Black Book Partners), archived from the original on October 30, 2010,, retrieved October 30, 2010 
  5. Trotter, Jim (February 2, 2005), "Tomlinson among those shocked by Smith news", (The San Diego Union-Tribune), archived from the original on October 30, 2010,, retrieved October 30, 2010 
  6. Zimmerman, Chad (September 1, 2005), "LaDainian Tomlinson's Off-Season Training Plan", (Stack), archived from the original on October 30, 2010,, retrieved October 30, 2010 
  7. TCU runs hot and cold in bowls from 28 December 2001
  8. 2011 NCAA Football Records Book, Award Winners, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, p. 11 (2011). Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  9. Just falling short of Zach Green of Bhs who rushed for 5,269 yards in his career. TCU's Tomlinson finishes distant fourth, feels like 'fluke' from Sports Illustrated, 9 December 2000
  10. Our All-Time Numbers from TCU Magazine, obtained 18 December 2006.
  11. Biography page[dead link] obtained 17 December 2006.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ryan (August 4, 2007), "What If…Michael Vick and LaDainian Tomlinson Weren’t Traded?", (YardBarker), archived from the original on October 20, 2010,, retrieved October 20, 2010 
  13. Mihoces, Gary. "Tomlinson plying his trade well", USA Today, 2006-07-12. 
  14. Canepa, Nick (July 18, 2007). Tiny Tim saved Bolts from Vick. UNION-TRIBUNE.
  15. Kiper, Mel (2000-03-08). TCU's Tomlinson wows at combine. Espn website. Retrieved on 2008-11-28.
  16. Ladainian Tomlinson Stats from
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Canepa, Nick. "No doubt: Norv wants to run ball", May 23, 2010. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. 
  18. Tomlinson's feat preserved in Canton from Pro Football Hall of Fame, obtained 17 December 2006
  19. AP (March 10, 2009), "LT, Bolts call truce, come to terms on restructured 3-year deal", (Sports Illustrated), archived from the original on October 23, 2010,, retrieved October 23, 2010 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Sullivan, Tim. "Read between lines to see Bolts’ message to LT", April 24, 2010. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. 
  21. Acee, Kevin. "Chargers react to LT’s jabs at his former team", April 3, 2010. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 Clayton, John; Mortensen, Chris; AP (February 23, 2010), "Tomlinson released by Chargers", (ESPN), archived from the original on October 23, 2010,, retrieved October 23, 2010 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jenkins, Chris. "Tears shed as No. 21 says his goodbyes", February 25, 2010. Archived from the original on May 15, 2012. 
  24. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named canepa_04092010
  25. Acee, Kevin (December 7, 2009), "Brown pays his respects to Tomlinson", (The San Diego Union-Tribune), archived from the original on October 23, 2010,, retrieved October 23, 2010 
  26. Sullivan, Tim. "LT trades pigskin for olive branch", April 26, 2010. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. 
  27. Williams, Charean. "Tomlinson's best title shot", January 23, 2011. Retrieved on May 13, 2012. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. 
  28. Sullivan, Tim. "Retiring a number can be tricky math problem", March 4, 2010. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. 
  29. Canepa, Nick. "Chargers have several more numbers they should retire", May 13, 2012. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. 
  30. Sullivan, Tim. "'55' remains prime number for Seau". Archived from the original on May 13, 2012. 
  31. "Tomlinson signs with Jets", (ESPN), March 15, 2010, archived from the original on October 20, 2010,, retrieved October 20, 2010 
  32. Trotter, Jim (March 14, 2010), "LT's signing with Jets came down to staff, scheme, personnel likes", (Sports Illustrated), archived from the original on October 23, 2010,, retrieved October 23, 2010 
  33. AP (April 1, 2010), "LaDainian Tomlinson says last year's performance was not his fault", (USA Today), archived from the original on October 23, 2010,, retrieved October 23, 2010 
  34. "Recap: LT's 2 scores lead Jets in 38-14 rout of Bills", (Sports Illustrated), archived from the original on October 20, 2010,, retrieved October 20, 2010 
  35. Associated Press (October 31, 2010), "Jets' Tomlinson reaches milestone", (New York Post), archived from the original on October 31, 2010,, retrieved October 31, 2010 
  36. Caldwell, Dave. "Rested Against Bills, Tomlinson Is Set for Colts", January 6, 2011, p. B16. Retrieved on January 27, 2011. “After last season, in which he rushed for a career-low 730 yards for San Diego, Tomlinson signed a two-year contract with the Jets, but it was widely thought he would be a complement to Shonn Greene. Tomlinson outrushed Greene by 148 yards.” 
  37. Bishop, Greg. "Slowly and Steadily, the Jets Move Straight Ahead", January 10, 2011, p. D4. Retrieved on January 27, 2011. “Both drives ended the same way, with Tomlinson bounding into the end zone from a yard out.” 
  38. "Mark Sanchez tosses 3 TDs as Jets soar into AFC title game",, January 16, 2011. Retrieved on January 27, 2011. “LaDainian Tomlinson: 7th career postseason TD, most among all active running backs.” 
  39. Bishop, Greg. "Out and Onward: Moments That Made the Game", January 25, 2011, p. B13. Retrieved on January 27, 2011. “But instead of Greene, they sent running back LaDainian Tomlinson into a wall of black and gold. When Tomlinson tried to extend the ball over a crush of Steelers, he could not lift it.” 
  40. "New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - Box Score - January 23, 2011 - ESPN",, January 23, 2011. Retrieved on January 27, 2011. 
  41. Cimini, Rich. "Sources: LaDainian Tomlinson to return",, March 1, 2011. Retrieved on March 1, 2011. “General manager Mike Tannenbaum said after the season that he expects Tomlinson back but left some wiggle room by saying "things could change." Tomlinson's late-season fade, coupled with McKnight's strong showing in the Jets' regular-season finale, prompted some to speculate that the team was mulling a change.” 
  42. Waszak Jr., Dennis. "Jets’ Tomlinson remakes himself as 3rd-down threat", Yahoo! Sports, September 15, 2011. Archived from the original on September 16, 2011. 
  43. Armstrong, Kevin. "LaDainian Tomlinson joins Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice as only NFL players with 160 career touchdowns", New York Daily News, September 26, 2011. Retrieved on September 26, 2011. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. 
  44. LaDainian Tomlinson to retire.
  45. Gehlken, Michael. "LT's legacy rich in records", June 17, 2012. Archived from the original on June 25, 2012. 

External linksEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.