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Ten Years Later, LT and Vick Come Together Again

Posted by Eric Allen on December 14, 2011 – 5:02 pm

LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Vick will always be linked. On the eve of the 2001 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons moved up four spots to obtain the San Diego Chargers’ No. 1 overall selection.

“Keep in mind, I hadn’t talked to San Diego predraft or anything else,” Tomlinson recalled this week. “I remember when we were both at the draft the day before and Vick actually said to me, ‘You know what, they’re going to trade the pick and Atlanta is going to move to No. 1 and San Diego is going to jump back to No. 5 and get you.’”

Vick was a star at Virginia Tech while Tomlinson helped revive a program at Texas Christian. The Chargers had many needs and they were burned just a few years prior when they drafted Ryan Leaf with the No. 2 overall selection. After negotiating with Vick, the Bolts moved back for a package that included the swap of first-round picks and the acquisition of a third-round pick (No. 67, CB Tay Cody) in ’01, a second-rounder in ’02 (No. 48, WR Reche Caldwell) and WR-KR Tim Dwight.

Almost in disbelief after what he heard from Vick, Tomlinson couldn’t quite get in the SoCal frame of mind until the trade was official.

“I was like, ‘Why would you do that? He said, ‘Well, we can’t agree on the money.’ I still didn’t quite believe him at the time, but laying in my bed that night before the draft, I saw that they traded for Vick,” Tomlinson said. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m going to San Diego.’ That’s kind of when I knew that it was going to happen.”

The Chargers not only got themselves an outstanding running back, but they came back in the second round and took a flyer on a small quarterback with questionable arm strength. Purdue product Drew Brees was his name and he turned out to be a sensational player in his own right.

“I was the fifth pick and I think Drew Brees was actually like the 32nd pick or something like that. It was the first pick in the second round,” Tomlinson said. “If you think about that, they had two Hall of Fame guys that they drafted that year. So it’s pretty unbelievable picking by John Butler.”

They are working on Tomlinson’s bust in Canton, Ohio. He’s third on the NFL’s all-time list for career touchdowns with 162, and he needs just 73 yards to move past Jerome Bettis and into fifth place on the all-time rushing list.

“I can’t say enough about the late John Butler and his family, giving me the opportunity to play in this league,” he said. “He believed in me and as a younger player he did say I reminded him of Thurman Thomas, who he had in Buffalo. At that time, I just told him that I hoped I could live up to half of the things Thurman Thomas has done. John Butler was great to be around.”

Tomlinson and the Jets have been hanging around the end zone a lot lately. They average 26.2 points a game and have scored 13 touchdowns over the last three weeks, including 12 straight in the red zone.

“I think that’s the thing people really need to focus on because last year we were one of the worst teams in the red zone,” said Tomlinson, who against the Chiefs celebrated his first home score as a Jet. “This year we’re tops in the league in the red zone. Just to kind of show people this offense, when we put our minds that we want to be good at something —we get the job done. A lot of that has to do with coaching. Schotty is the main one up there preaching that to us every single day, pointing out the things we’re doing wrong, correcting what we’re doing wrong. That’s how we’re moving forward.”

The 32-year-old Tomlinson still has moves that wow us. After missing Weeks 11 and 12 with a knee sprain, he again tweaked the same knee at Washington and was limited in Week 13. But he had six touches against the Chiefs, including a beautiful 31-yard catch-and-run after making rookie Justin Houston look like a traffic cone in coverage.

“It was funny because I felt kind of disrespected a little bit. He’s kind of a defensive end/linebacker and they just had him 1-on-1 with me,” Tomlinson said. “In my opinion, at that time, if I can’t beat him, then it’s time for me to retire and get out of the game. I’m done if I can’t win my matchup.”

Now close to 11 years after a historic draft day trade, Tomlinson hopes he can secure a win against Vick’s team. Vick and the Eagles haven’t had the success they’ve wanted, but they remain explosive and Tomlinson would like to see No. 7 on the sideline most of the day.

“That’s going to be critical for us is time of possession,” he said. “We would love to keep them off the field and allow our defense to rest. We don’t know what kind of game it’s going to be as far as the weather. We all know this time of year you have to be able to run the football and that’s one of the things we’ve been doing good of late, so we have to continue that.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Ten Years Later, LT and Vick Come Together Again”

  1. By 38 year fan on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    Eric – This is some of your best writing … It has the history … It is interesting hearing some of the back story of those times . And Tomlinson has given the Jets his Finest years . He is giving his all .

  2. By BlackDynamite on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    Pretty sure Rex will get him those 70 yards rushing to pass Bettis before the season is over

  3. By Allan O'Dane on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    Ok Memo to Rex Ryan..Hit..Hit..and Hit again on Vick. And Send the best man out to do the the job…David “Hitman” Harris!…Ever notice when Harris hits a QB..they get up really slow. I’m just putting it out there. Going to have to use maybin to spy because he is the only LB fast enough to catch Vick. This game is not going to be so easy. Revis seems to have a little trouble with small fast recievers. (Stevie Johnson)

  4. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    Great article, Eric, nice to see such a good historical and autobiographical perspective. Even if talk of teams drafting QBs like Drew Brees leaves me envious. Allan O, I see Stevie Johnson is making noise about leaving the Bills next yr, wonder if he’s on Mr T’s radar — you’d be happy with that, right, GaryC, so that Plax can settle into the #4 role that seems to be the most you’ll allow? Well, I’ll take Johnson but not for any great number of draft picks, not even low ones — THIS time I wanna see Mr T and Rex build this team right!

  5. By GaryC on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    jet fan tom, his ego will not allow him to settle in as a number 4,and you got that right,I would take cotchery in a hearbeat over plastico,osmosis doesn’t work on the football field,it is not a right that Plastico is catching a pass in the super bowl to win us a game,if that was true we could have brought in Max McGee,isn’t he and Plax around the same age.

  6. By Allan O'Dane on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    ’64 Tom, Mr.T has stop with the sexy pics. Look how NE drafts its players. They want football players with excellent football IQ’s. All around team players. Keller can be a great TE if Moore gets to have more say in the offense. I’ve said all along rex wants this team to be like ravens. Solid running game at least 175per. Lights out D giving up 11pts a game. and a QB who throws for 180yds. no INTS and at least two touchdowns. This was his formula. But once he got Plax and Holmes and Mason it changed from ground and pound to Air Jets. Now we are back to who we are. We need to start looking for replacements for scott, pace and leonhard.

  7. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    Well, Allan, that pile of Lombardi trophies that the Ravens have won with “Rex’s formula” might have something to do with his abandoning it for a more pass-first O this yr. Believe you me, if Rex ever gets the chance to have an O like GB, PIT, NE, or NO, he’ll take it without looking back, except for some of his usual after-the-fact rationalizations. What’s more, the kind of yr Flacco is having shows you what can happen when your QB isn’t elite. I don’t think they’re going anywhere no matter what kind of running or D they have until Flacco steps up. GaryC, you gotta admit Plax is pretty impressive in the red zone for us this yr. I still say he might take a #3/4 WR role and coach the younger guys like LT has so classily done for us at RB.

  8. By GaryC on Dec 15, 2011 | Reply

    jet fan tom, yes Plastico is impressive in the red zone, all we have to do know is to institute the college overtime rules where you get the ball on opponents 25 and Burress would be all pro.

  9. By Tom Spicer on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Tom 64, The Ravens have a pass 1st O? Where do you get this stuff from Ray Rice & the running game IS THERE O!

  10. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    The Ravens don’t have a pass 1st O, Spicer, they have a pass-inept O, this yr, anyway, and that’s why Arte’s all wrong about them going the distance.

  11. By Tom Spicer on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Tom 64, This is your post above “Well, Allan, that pile of Lombardi trophies that the Ravens have won with “Rex’s formula” might have something to do with his abandoning it for a more pass-first O this yr” Thsi right here is you saying the Ravens have a pass first O which could not be more wrong.

  12. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    I didn’t say the Ravens have a pass-first O, Spicer, I said that they aren’t doing too well lately with the remnants of Rex’s outdated philosophy on O,which unfortunately we’re still stuck with. The yr the Ravens won it all was the end of a mini-era of D’s dominating, especially thanks to all the rules changes that have favored the O since then.

  13. By Jimmer on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Excellent article. But how did the story turn to the Ravens O in the comments section?

  14. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 16, 2011 | Reply

    Jimmer, irrational defenders of our iffy O are everywhere, like some power-grabbing government agency they seek to dominate everywhere that they can. But their propaganda continues to fall on deaf ears because until we can start strong, play strong, and finish strong on O — and that means by way of scoring pts, not by allegedly benefitting from long drives for missed FGs, failing to score after big turnovers, and other such nonsense that I’ve read seriously advocated on this site as good football — we’re not winning the big one.

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