Officially retired, is L.T. headed to Hall of Fame?


Officially retired, is L.T. headed to Hall of Fame?

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- LaDainian Tomlinson was in the midst of saying goodbye to the NFL when his young son, Daylen, wandered across the dais and tugged on his pants, wanting a little attention. Tomlinson reached down and lifted him up, holding him as carefully as he used to carry the football. Joined by his family and several former teammates, Tomlinson ended his brilliant 11-year NFL career the same way he started it -- with the San Diego Chargers. Tomlinson signed a one-day contract with the Chargers on Monday and then announced his retirement. "It wasn't because I didn't want to play anymore. It was simply time to move on," Tomlinson said. Tomlinson rushed for 13,684 yards, fifth all-time, and scored 162 touchdowns, third-most ever. His 145 rushing touchdowns are second-most in history. He also passed for seven touchdowns. Just as importantly, he helped the Chargers dig out from one of their worst periods to become a force in the AFC West division. He played his first nine seasons with San Diego and the last two years with the New York Jets. Tomlinson, who turns 33 on Saturday, said he knew at the end of last season that he'd probably retire. He said he was still physically capable of playing but mentioned the mental toll it takes to play at a high level. Tomlinson didn't shed any tears, as he did two years ago after being released by the Chargers. L.T. recalled the news conference in 2006 when former teammate Junior Seau announced his first retirement. "He said, I'm graduating today.' I've been playing football 20-some years and so at some point it almost seems like school every year where you sacrifice so much and there is so much you put on the line, mentally and physically, with your body, everything," Tomlinson said. "So today, I take the words of Junior Seau: I feel like I'm graduating. I really do, because I've got my life ahead of me, I'm healthy, I'm happy with a great family and I'm excited to now be a fan and watch you guys play." Seau, who committed suicide on May 2, came out of retirement a few times to play for the New England Patriots. Tomlinson said this is it for him. Tomlinson said he has special memories even though the Chargers never got to the Super Bowl during his time with them. His most memorable moment with San Diego came in December 2006, when he swept into the end zone late in a game against the Denver Broncos for his third touchdown of the afternoon to break Shaun Alexander's year-old record of 28 touchdowns in a season. His linemen hoisted him onto their shoulders and carried him toward the sideline, with Tomlinson holding the ball high in his right hand and waving his left index finger, while the fans chanted "L.T.! L.T.!" and "MVP! MVP!" Tomlinson was voted NFL MVP that season, when he set league single-season records with 31 touchdowns, including 28 rushing, and 186 points. "Those were championship days, for not only myself and my teammates, but my family as well," said Tomlinson, who won two NFL rushing titles. "So I'm OK with never winning a Super Bowl championship. I know we've got many memories that we can call championship days." Chargers President Dean Spanos said few players have had a bigger role or meant more to the team and the city than Tomlinson. Spanos said no other Chargers player will wear Tomlinson's No. 21, and that a retirement ceremony will be held sometime in the future. "People and players like LaDainian Tomlinson don't come around very often, if at all," Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson said in a statement. "His humility and work ethic made it clear why he will be remembered as one of the game's best players. Without question, his next stop will be the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

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Trotz sees value for the Caps in their early season road trip

Trotz sees value for the Caps in their early season road trip

After enjoying three of their first five games at home to start the season, the Capitals now must pack their bags for a long road trip that will take them through western Canada.

The upcoming four-game road trip, the team’s second longest of the season, will take the Caps to Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg. They will not host another game at Verizon Center until Nov. 3.

Despite facing a long trip away from home and the Caps’ faithful, Barry Trotz is excited by the prospect of the early trip.

“I think it'll be good for us,” he said. “I think last year we got our game going when we went out to Canada last year. Doesn't mean we're going to get it going this year at all, but it started on the road trip.”

RELATED: Trotz: Caps need more 'net presence'

Last season, the Caps hit the road in October for a three-game swing against Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton. The Caps won all three of those games by a combined score of 16-8 to improve their record to 6-1-0. That trip was the first true glimpse of the Presidents’ Trophy winning team the Caps would become.

While everyone enjoys playing in front of their fans and sleeping in their own bed, long road trips can be beneficial when it comes early in the season as teams build chemistry among the players.

“I think what it does is, it's just hockey,” Trotz said. “It's guys playing hockey.”

All the distractions of home are gone when players hit the road. Rather than just practicing together, the players end up spending all their time together bonding. The only worry is hockey.

But the benefits of a road trip are limited if the team can’t find success.

“If we come back with a winning record, I'll say it's great and if we don't, I don't think it's very good,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think everybody says that ahead of the trip and then it might change your mind afterwards. Sometimes your record or your success has a lot of impact on what people really think about those trips.”

Unlike last season, this trip will not feature weak Canadian squads.

Edmonton and Vancouver are two of the hottest teams to start the season. Winnipeg, meanwhile, boasts talented rookie Patrick Laine.

If the Caps hope to use this season’s road trip as a springboard to the top of the standings as they did last year, they are going to have to earn it.

But for Trotz, he sees benefits to this trip beyond just the standings.

“On the road, I think it never hurts,” Trotz said. “It never hurts for your group.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz tweaks Caps' top lines in attempt to spark offense

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Morning tip: Wizards will welcome straight-shooting style from coaches

Morning tip: Wizards will welcome straight-shooting style from coaches

A few seasons ago, Trevor Ariza challenged John Wall about his role with the Wizards and what the point guard envisioned about everyone else's. Then it was Marcin Gortat questioning his role with the coaching staff. Last year, Jared Dudley encountered that, too. 

They weren't the only ones to express that under Randy Wittman, who kept his cards close to the vest with his players -- possibly contributing to players-only meetings called by Ariza and Dudley -- but new coach Scott Brooks is the exact opposite. It's among the many differences in the culture and how things are being handled as the Wizards put a 41-41 season behind them.

Wittman was a former player, as is Brooks. But Brooks is more new school than old school and this is yet another reason why his arrival is so welcomed. It's partly why he's called a "player's coach." 

"All of the guys know their role. I made that perfectly clear in our opening night meeting before our first training camp practice," said Brooks, who won't commit to his starting five publicly -- likely John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Gortat --  but maintains his players have known for quite some time. "It's that their role is to play as hard as they possibly can and play for their teammates whether if it's one minute or 48 minutes. You just got to do that and then we can live with the results. That kind of cleans everything up because I've been a player and I've been around players and when things don't go well they always fall back on, 'I don't know my role.' So all the players will know their role."

That means before training camp opened Sept. 27 in Richmond, Va., any doubts that anyone may have had before the first dribble were put to bed. 

[RELATED: Inevitable rise of Bradley Beal?]