Whether you disliked LaDainian Tomlinson, or outright hated him (that’s about the range for Raider fans) you had absolutely no choice but to respect him as a player. Tomlinson has retired after 11 NFL seasons. He was fifth on the all-time rusher’s list with 13,684 yards. The final yard marker for 145 of those was the endzone. He had one MVP season (2006) in which he rushed for 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns. He added an additional 508 yards receiving on 56 catches along with 3 more touchdowns, giving him an astonishing 31 total for the year. Truly MVP-worthy numbers. Oh, and by the way, he was also 8-12 passing the ball in his career with 7 touchdown passes good enough to give him a 146.9 QB rating. All of his career numbers, though, may not be as Hall of Fame friendly if it wasn’t for the fact that he was able to play against the Oakland Raiders twice a year for the majority of his career.
In an otherwise meaningless game in 2003, Tomlinson rushed the ball 31 times for a career-high 243 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders, a career-high mark that would remain his best throughout the rest of his career. Two years later, a 3-3 Charger’s team came into the Coliseum to face the 1-4 Oakland Raiders. This time, L.T. “only” rushed for 140 yards on 31 carries along with a rushing touchdown. In addition to that, he caught 2 passes for 39 yards and yes, another touchdown. In the second quarter of the game, he figured he would go ahead and try for football’s equivalent of baseball’s “cycle.” He took the handoff from Drew Brees, and instead of putting his shoulders down, he put his head up and looked for Justin Peelle in the endzone hitting him for what was his 3rd career touchdown pass at the time.
Those are just a couple of examples of how much Tomlinson enjoyed playing against the Raiders. He could be in the biggest slump of his career, the Raiders were always the medicine that cured whatever ailed him. You could count on a 100+ yards per game just about any time he suited up to play against the Silver and Black, and it is for this reason that very few Raider fans will be sad to see him go.
LaDainian Tomlinson and the Oakland Raiders will be forever linked together. Even after his enshrinement into Canton, it will pain Raider fans to know that the L.T.’s road to the Hall of Fame was paved right through the heart of Oakland.