There was the tattoo on the back of the right calf, the one with the NYJ logo. And there were a number of heartfelt sentiments and fiery team breakdowns and uplifting highlights while wearing the green and white.
Still, when LaDainian Tomlinson decided to officially retire from the NFL, did anyone doubt the San Diego pull on his career?
The Chargers announced Sunday that Tomlinson is retiring and that he’s retiring as a ‘Bolt. He is expected to sign a one-day contract with San Diego today and then hold a news conference this afternoon.
Nevertheless, No. 21 had an impact for the two seasons that he was a Jet. He notched the last 100-yard game of his Hall of Fame career, going for 133 yards and two touchdowns at Buffalo in Game 4 of 2010. Two weeks later there was another two-TD game in the win at Denver, and two more in the AFC Wild Card win at Indianapolis.
Last season he throttled down as Shonn Greene became the starting tailback, yet still Tomlinson contributed, as the third-down back. His 42 receptions for 449 yards gave him a career-best 10.7 yards per catch, topped by his career-long-equaling 74-yard catch-and-run at Oakland.
However, Tomlinson, released by the Chargers after the ’09 season, his ninth in blue and gold, may have been at his happiest as a Jet after a tiny little 3-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from midfield. All that run did was cement the Patriots’ fate in the Jets’ 28-14 Game 2 triumph, his first home win as a Jet and the Jets’ first win in their new Meadowlands home.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Tomlinson said after that game. “Being around these guys, this coaching staff, being on this team has rejuvenated me and I feel like a young man running around out there. I’m having fun like a kid again, so I’m going to keep that passion all year long.”
“He’s enjoying himself here. He’s excited about being here,” said CB Antonio Cromartie, who played his first four NFL seasons with Tomlinson in San Diego. “He’s anxious to prove everyone wrong. Everyone says that he’s 31 years old and he’s headed for a downfall, but he’s going out and proving everyone wrong.”
One thing LT appreciated most in his short stay in the New Jersey/New York area was the passion of the fans.
“I never knew how emotional and passionate the fans are here about football,” he said. “Of course, I played here once or twice and they were great fans then, but playing here and being part of this team — it’s a different story.”
Both Tomlinson and the Jets could see the unfolding story after last season’s deflating finish out of the playoffs. He knew his Jets career was drawing to a close and his NFL career, too.
And today the story will be about his fantastic career, the first 9/11ths of it spent building a magnificent foundation, the last 2/11ths applying the crowning touch. We’ll bring you some of LaDainian’s comments from that news conference later this afternoon — which will be streamed live on chargers.com at 2 p.m. ET — and we’ll have a few photos and videos of his stay with the Jets.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets, retirement, San Diego Chargers
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