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Backing LT

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by LT-Express, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. LT-Express
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    LT-Express Bolttalk.com Janitor since 06' Staff Member Super Moderator

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    In defense of Tomlinson
    Former RB says Charger does not deserve criticism
    Posted: Wednesday January 23, 2008 9:40PM; Updated: Wednesday January 23, 2008 11:47PM



    Once again, it seems the only thing we in the media love more than building up athletes is tearing them down.

    The latest example is running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who is being criticized for playing only two series in the Chargers' 21-12 loss at New England last Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

    Tomlinson, who strained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee the previous Sunday at Indianapolis, thought he would be able to contribute after practicing late in the week. But he aggravated the injury on his first carry from scrimmage when he was hit on the knee by the Patriots. Two touches later, he was on the sideline for good.

    Since then, Tomlinson, the 2006 league MVP and co-Man of the Year, has been called soft by some, weak by others. He has been second-guessed by people he doesn't know and people he has invited into his home, most notably NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders.

    "What's the problem?" Sanders said. "You're a big-time player, and big-time players must play big-time games."

    Sanders added Tomlinson would have to undergo knee surgery for Sanders to give him "a pass" for not returning.

    The comments nearly had Terrell Davis jumping through his plasma screen. Like Sanders, Davis is an NFL Network analyst. Like Sanders, he is a former player. Unlike Sanders, he understood just what Tomlinson was going through.

    Davis played running back for the Broncos in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and he struggled with knee injuries at the end of his career. That's why he had no problem slipping into Tomlinson's cleats.

    "I've played with broken fingers, I've played with separated shoulders, cracked ribs, even turf toe," Davis said. "Those things you can kind of get away with. But when you're talking about the knee, it just ain't the same. I've had games where I've tried to do the same thing that L.T. did. I went out there and I told myself, I told my teammates that I was going to play. That was my mindset. I was trying to encourage myself to believe that I could go out there and play and be effective. But the moment of truth is when you start getting hit and you're in a game and the speed is faster and people are grabbing at your knee and twisting it.

    "If it's not responding, there's nothing else you can do but just sit yourself down. I would have hated to see L.T. go out there and continue trying to play in that game and look the way he looked. You had a better chance with (Michael) Turner in the game because he gives you 100 percent of something."

    Mark Klion is a board certified orthopedist who specializes in sports medicine at Mount Siani Hospital in New York. When asked about the likelihood of a running back playing with a sprained MCL, he said: "Most athletic individuals who have a mild or a moderate strain have a lot of difficulty performing twisting, pivoting activities. I don't care what level you're at, it hurts. So from that perspective, could a professional running back play where so much of his activity is based on stop-start, side-to-side direction? Even Superman couldn't play with it."

    The criticism of Tomlinson is ridiculous on so many levels, but particularly when it comes from a former professional athlete who has been sidelined by injury himself.

    "I'm saying, 'Deion, how do you forget what it feels like to have an injury?'" Davis said. "Deion's point was that L.T. told him all week, 'I'm 90 percent healthy and I'm going to play.' And then he goes out there and plays for three touches. But Deion felt that you lied to us, you lied to me. I'm saying, wait a minute, man. I'm sure L.T. had every intention of trying to finish that game. He was trying to finish that game. That's the biggest game of his career thus far, and you think he's going to sit on the sideline for some mental reason? When he's on the sideline, I understood how he felt. He felt so embarrassed because he couldn't contribute.

    "People say, 'Why wasn't he up talking to Turner or speaking to the running backs trying to give people insight on what he saw from the sideline and trying to encourage people? That's not L.T.'s role. L.T. has been a leader because he's been doing it on the field. When you can't do it, you feel like you've got the measles, the mumps. You feel like you've got a disease because people look at you like you're crazy. You feel like you're an outcast sometime. It's the strangest thing in sport now: When people get hurt, your teammates look at you funny. But I understood the way he felt."

    The irony is that Tomlinson has been one of the league's more durable players since entering the league in 2001, missing only one game in seven seasons. He has played when it mattered most, and when it didn't matter at all. Consider:

    • In 2003, he sustained a slightly separated shoulder the week before the season finale against the Raiders. At the time the Chargers had lost five of six and were 3-12 overall. The only things they had to play for were pride and each other, which is why Tomlinson took a pain-numbing shot beforehand and ran for a franchise-record 243 yards.

    • In 2004, the Chargers had clinched the AFC West title and a home playoff game entering the season finale, so former coach Marty Schottenheimer decided to sit Tomlinson that Sunday. Tomlinson, who could have used the rest after dealing with a strained groin much of the year, didn't like the decision. Most people thought it was because he needed only one more score to tie the league record of 13 consecutive games with a rushing touchdown, but the reality is that he was more concerned with the history books showing he played only 15 games instead of the 16 that constitute a full season. His boyhood idol was Walter Payton, and one of the things he admired about the former Chicago Bears star was his toughness and durability.

    • In 2005, Tomlinson played the final four-plus games with a cracked rib. Going into the season finale, against Denver, the Chargers already had been eliminated from playoff consideration. There was no reason for Tomlinson to be on the field. But there he was.

    Over the past few years, Tomlinson has stressed that his only remaining athletic goal is to win a Super Bowl. He has won a league MVP award and two rushing titles. He has set numerous league scoring records. But the one thing he lacks is a championship, and last Sunday he was so close to getting a shot at one that took the field in the conference final even though his knee wasn't totally right. Even in warmups he noticed that he lacked the burst that has signified so many of his touchdowns and big runs.

    But he wanted to give it a go, and he did for two series -- until he realized that he couldn't get to the holes he saw opening before him. According to coach Norv Turner, Tomlinson then told the training staff that he didn't have the "burst" to get into space. Turner determined that he would not have Tomlinson the rest of the game, but the team informed the media that Tomlinson might return, perhaps hoping to keep the Patriots guessing.

    "Maybe he could have been a decoy on a play," Turner said.

    The strategy of deception was understandable, but the person who paid for it was Tomlinson. The team should have said right away that Tomlinson was out, that way there would not have been the second-guessing and speculation. Instead, the man's character has been questioned.

    "I always felt like this," Davis said. "You can question my playing ability. You can kill me in the media for how I'm playing. But never question my integrity or my heart. And when they started taking shots at my character, that I wasn't tough enough when I was trying to come back from knee problems, it was like, 'Hold up, man. You have no clue what I'm going through. Nobody wants to play more than me.' Nobody wants to be in that game more than L.T. But you're either able or you're unable. Then you have people say, 'Well, go in there and give it a try.' Sometimes that's not the best answer for your team. If I'm in the game and I'm hobbling, if I can't explode, if I'm turning potential 10-yard runs into 2-yard runs, what good is it?

    "It is a huge difference if you cannot perform to the level that you're capable of performing at. We don't need a lame L.T. We need a healthy, able L.T. The Chargers didn't have that. No one should be questioning him. This man has shown he's as tough as they come."
  2. RM24
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    RM24 BoltTalker

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    You tell those LT bashers Terrell! And F You Dion Warwick! You never tackled anybody anyway. He runs his mouth as fast as his feet! Who cares about Deon's opinion anyway and who needs a "pass" from him too? Nobody, certainly NOT LT!!!
  3. Lightning's Girl
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    Lightning's Girl Mod Chick =) Staff Member Moderator

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    Damn straight!!!

    Come on, Charger fans, don't give the national media any more ammunition---they already think we're a bunch of fair-weather fans as it is, and player-bashing like I've seen on here lately just proves them right. I don't wanna sound like George Dubya Bush, but dammit, either you're for the team or you ain't.
  4. BoltzRule
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    BoltzRule Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Terrell. :tup:

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