PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 23: LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets is brought down by LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
We're always going to respect worthy adversaries.
The Steelers rarely saw a better pure running back and football player than former Chargers and Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who, on Sunday, signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the San Diego Chargers.
He played with the Chargers from 2001 to 2010, spending his final two seasons with the Jets. In that time, Tomlinson's teams were 2-5 against Pittsburgh when he participated in them, rushing 98 times for 326 yards (3.32 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for 160 yards and no touchdowns.
In his career, he rushed 3,174 times for 13,684 yards (5th all time), and scored 162 touchdowns (3rd most all time).
While the Steelers may have largely contained Tomlinson (despite being on some pretty good Chargers teams), the numbers he put up in his career reflect what seems to be the end of an era.
No active running back is close to his 13,684 yards - Thomas Jones is the closest at 10,591, and we could hear his retirement announcement any day now. Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew is the closest (of running backs, 49ers WR Randy Moss has 154) to his 162 touchdowns, and he's entering his seventh season with 74 touchdowns.
He was the league's MVP and the Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient in 2006, and was a three-time first team All Pro (2004, 2006, 2007). Very few ran the ball better than he did throughout a career.
Except against the Steelers, of course.