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Tomlinson gets the nod here for '06 MVP

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 26, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/story/482730p-406338c.html">New York Daily News</a>

    <img width="303" height="201" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson made it to the end zone on this second-half 48-yard run, but it was negated by a penalty." title="LaDainian Tomlinson made it to the end zone on this second-half 48-yard run, but it was negated by a penalty." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/061224seahawks/JBchgSea260225x203.jpg" />

    By Gary Myers

    <span class="bodytext"><strong>LaDainian Tomlinson</strong> and <strong>Drew Brees</strong> were drafted 1-2 by the Chargers in 2001 and played together for five years before Brees' shoulder injury split them up. Now they are 1-2 again, this time for the 2006 MVP award.Brees has been the most important player in the league for what he has done to revitalize the Saints, who in turn have helped revitalize New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The Saints, who play the Giants today, are 9-5, have already won the NFC South and have the tie-breaker edge over Dallas for the No. 2 seed in the conference. Brees has 25 TDs, 11 INTs, has thrown for a league-best 4,240 yards and is averaging 303 passing yards a game, but will likely fall short of the second 5,000-yard season in NFL history.

    Tomlinson is having an historic season for the Chargers, the best team in the league. He will get my MVP vote when the ballots are due on New Years's Day. The ballot does not list runnerups, but if it did, Brees would get my second-place vote.

    Quarterbacks are generally more valuable than running backs, but ultimately, it's impossible not to reward Tomlinson for what he has done this year. He's been the most dynamic player in the league.

    Chargers coach <strong>Marty Schottenheimer</strong>, who has been around pro football since 1965, says Tomlinson is the best running back he has ever seen. Too bad the original LT never got to chase down this LT.

    "I've had an occasion to witness some of the premier backs play," Schottenheimer said. "It goes back to <strong>Jim Brown</strong> and his career with the Browns. You look at <strong>Gale Sayers</strong>. There's <strong>Walter Payton</strong>. I make the case that the guy who has shown the ability to do everything at a premier level is LaDainian Tomlinson and it's not like he's a one-year flash."

    Tomlinson led the NFL going into this weekend with 1,626 rushing yards and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry as he goes for his first rushing title. This is the third time in his six seasons that he has surpassed 1,600 rushing yards. He's never had fewer than 1,236 yards.

    After just 13 games, he broke the year-old NFL touchdown record with his 29th. He's up to 31 with two games remaining. His 186 points are a record. He also has caught 53 passes for 484 yards and leads the NFL with 2,110 yards from scrimmage. He needs to average 160 yards of offense in the last two games to break <strong>Marshall Faulk's</strong> record of 2,429 yards set in 1999. Tomlinson has averaged 151 yards in the first 14 games.

    The Chargers took Tomlinson in the first round in '01 and Brees in the second round. Brees believes he would still be in San Diego if he didn't wreck his throwing shoulder in the final game last season. Instead, the Chargers made a low-ball offer to keep him, and he signed with the Saints.

    There are behind-the-scenes stories to every draft. The key player in Tomlinson getting drafted by the Chargers was kick returner <strong>Tim Dwight</strong>, who is now on injured reserve with the Jets.

    Here's what happened. The Chargers had the first pick in '01. The Falcons had the fifth pick. San Diego was prepared to take <strong>Michael Vick</strong> at No. 1, but preferred to trade down with the Falcons and take Tomlinson. The Falcons wanted Vick and agreed to switch spots and give the Chargers their second- and third-round picks.

    But San Diego was adamant that the Falcons include Dwight in the trade and was willing to let that be the dealbreaker if Atlanta held firm that they wouldn't part with him.

    "Tim Dwight was the holdup," said Chargers GM <strong>A.J. Smith</strong>, who at the time was the assistant GM. "We wanted him for his return work. We were emphatic. The decision was up to Atlanta. Either you do or you don't. Our thought process was we were going to take Michael Vick unless we got a package we were comfortable with."

    The night before the draft, the Falcons gave in and included Dwight. They took Vick. The Chargers held their breath that Tomlinson would last until No. 5. Then they took Brees in the second round. But the Falcons' initial refusal to include Dwight could have changed the course of history.

    Smith and the late Chargers GM <strong>John Butler</strong> helped build the Bills teams that went to four Super Bowls. They viewed Tomlinson as the next <strong>Thurman Thomas</strong>. He's been even better.

    Brees feels he would have at least signed a one-year deal to stay in San Diego if he had not been hurt. Once the Dolphins elected not to pursue him, the Saints were his only viable option. It turned out to be a perfect match. Just like when <strong>Reggie White</strong> signed in Green Bay in 1993, Brees coming to New Orleans made it trendy for other players to sign with the Saints.

    "I thought it sent the right message to players and agents that New Orleans is still a real viable option," Saints GM <strong>Mickey Loomis</strong> said. "That was important for us and the psyche of our whole franchise and the city itself."

    Tomlinson and Brees could have won a Super Bowl together in San Diego. Now they may be facing each other in one in six weeks.


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