June 23 marked the 30th birthday of our favorite running back, LaDainian Tomlinson. And as the calendar turned on his 30th birthday, it brought much doubt that he will be able to return to the injury-free Pro Bowl days of his youth. There are those, both outside and inside of San Diego, who have determined that LT has lost his edge, that he is no longer the game-changing threat that he once was. Even though Defensive Coordinators will continue to stack the box against him, some NFL fans will still have labeled the man as over-the-hill and worn down. However, it is precisely these doubters and naysayers who fuel Tomlinson's fire.
Reports out of Chargers camp continue to point out that LT is pain-free and in great shape. Unlike 2008 where Tomlinson started out the season with nagging injuries, 2009 is proving to be a healthy year for LT. He's able to maintain his regular training schedule, working out daily without limitations. And while publicly the Chargers coaching staff will only comment on LT’s great performance in practice, his teammates have made it no secret that he is both in shape and playing with a chip on his shoulder, and expect nothing but greatness from their captain.
That got us thinking here at BoltHype; If Ladianian Tomlinson is as healthy and as motivated as we hope and his teammates believe, just how far can he go this year? Already known as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, where would another big year put him in the record books?
5 Records Ladainian Tomlinson Can Break In 2009
1. Tomlinson can move within striking distance of the record for career rushing touchdowns:
LaDainian already holds the single season record for points scored (186) and touchdowns (31). For career rushing TD’s he currently has 126*, behind only Emmitt Smith (164). Needing 38 rushing touchdowns to pass Smith, I imagine that LT will move closer but not take the record until next season. Thirty-eight TD's in one season would be a dream come true, but in reality it will take a couple of very strong years to top Smith. As for total career points scored, unless you’re a kicker you’re just not going to come close to that record. (*Corrected)
2. Tomlinson can move up to 7th place all-time for career rushing yards:
Currently sitting at 11760 career rushing yards, LT ranks 14th on the list. Maintaining his 1470 yards per season average, he should move into 7th place on the all-time list by the end of this season and into 1st place by the end of 2014. So perhaps that one isn’t going to happen, not unless he can really blow it up for a few more years.
3. Tomlinson can hold the all-time record for most single games with 200+ yards rushing:
Already with five career games with 200 yards rushing, LT is one more 200-yard game away from tying OJ Simpson for the league lead. That’s the kind of record that a motivated and pissed off running back may be within grasp of reaching and even exceeding this season.
4. Tomlinson has a shot at gaining the most yards from scrimmage in a single season:
This record currently belongs to SDSU alum Marshall Faulk with 2429 yards from scrimmage (over 1000 yards rushing and receiving). LT is 3rd on the list 2370 yards, which came in the 2003 season. That was back when LT wasn’t just part of the offense, he was the offense! Now, with Rivers and Gates and Sproles, it becomes less and less likely that he’ll be able to come close to that mark. But again, he’s healthy, he’s strong, and he’s out to prove his doubters wrong- perhaps anything is possible.
5. Tomlinson can break the San Diego Chargers record of longest run from scrimmage:
As far as Chargers records go, not surprisingly LT pretty much owns any and all significant running back records. Rushing yards, TD’s, and rushing attempts are all Chargers records that belong to LT. One team record that I’d love to see him break is the longest run, currently standing at 87 yards. I know, it’s a stat that is really insignificant. To even accomplish it your team has to have horrible field position. Then, you have to be lucky enough to break free for a long run with no penalties. And two 44-yard rushes won’t cut it. You have to run the full 88-yards (or more) in one shot to break the record. Call it a selfish objective, but there is nothing better than watching a game and seeing LT bolting through the secondary for a long gain.
As you take a quick look through the record books, you will notice Tomlinson is near the top of most applicable categories. But to overtake some of the greats of NFL-past, he really needs a few more excellent seasons. With all of the speculation this offseason that he is playing what could be his final season as a Charger, perhaps that adds even a little extra incentive to kick-ass this season and prove his critics wrong. The defense will be better this year, the passing game has reached an elite level, but we all know that the easiest path to a Super Bowl ring will be on the back of LaDainian Tomlinson.
Written by Jeff Williams
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