Monday, October 17, 2005

The Best

It was another ho-hum day at the office for San Diego Chargers' running back, LaDainian Tomlinson. In San Diego's 27-14 thrashing of the hated Oakland Raiders, LT carried 31 times for 140 yards and caught two passes for 39. 35 of those receiving yards came on a scoring pass in the first quarter which extended Tomlinson's streak of consecutive games with a touchdown to 18, tying Hall of Famer Lenny Moore. Later in the half, Tomlinson scored a rushing touchdown which established him as the first player in NFL history with at least ten rushing touchdowns in each of his first five seasons. And then, just to prove he could, LT threw his second touchdown pass of the season to tight end Justin Peele, marking just the seventh time in NFL history for a player to run, catch and pass for a touchdown in the same game.

And then came the halftime intermission.

During preseason and the early part of the season, we've begun to hear a lot of talk that Tomlinson is the best back in the NFL. I'll go you one further. He is the best player in the league. Yes, better than Peyton Manning. Better than Randy Moss or Terrell Owens. Tom Brady. He's better than all of them. During the broadcast of yesterday's game, they compared Tomlinson's stats over his first five years with Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, OJ Simpson, Jim Brown and other all-time greats. I wish I could remember the breakdowns, but I think Payton slightly outpaced LT in yardage. And only Brown topped him in TDs. But no one player approached him in combining the two categories.

There is no single player in the game today that I would rather have on my team. Especially not Michael Vick. LT is not only a fast runner, but a powerful one. His lightning quickness to the hole might only be surpassed by his ability to keep his balance while contorting and changing directions to bounce outside for big gains. He is a skilled pass receiver who already has a 100 catch season to his credit. He's a committed blocker. And oh yeah, he has three career touchdown passes and a 158.3 quarterback rating. And as good a player as he is, he might even be a better person and teammate. He has a tremendous work ethic and a burning desire to win. He is deeply humble and always places the team above himself. He hates the Raiders only slightly less than Marty Schottenheimer. Which is only slightly less than I do. Nothing to dislike about this guy.

LaDainian Tomlinson is the best player in professional football today. And he wears lightning bolts.

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