One of the biggest surprises of the young season has come in New York, where veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson has gained 208 yards, averaging an eye-popping 5.6 yards per carry. Tomlinson has quieted critics who believed that he was washed up, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll hold up over the long haul of the season.
Regardless of how the story unfolds, Tomlinson has won over his new teammates, who have lined up to fire back at Tomlinson’s old ones.
Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports has compiled a stream of quotes from Jets players in response to the shots fired by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and Chargers tight end Antonio Gates at Tomlinson.
Said tackle Damien Woody: “Yeah, we all saw that. It was kind of like nuke missiles flying from
the other side It’s unfortunate that somebody would say something after
you leave. What does that say about you? We’ve got his back 100
percent. I’ve been telling people, LT’s still got a lot of giddy-up in
his legs. San Diego is Philip Rivers’ team now. A lot has changed. They
have an aerial attack — it’s like their receivers are basketball players
and they’re playing alley-oop. So when they go to run the ball, they
can’t. We practice that every day. Rex calls it ground and pound.”
Said linebacker Jason Taylor: “I think it’s very disappointing that guys would do that. It’s a little
unprofessional. If you call the guy a friend, you ought not to do that.
If you had an issue, you should speak to him face-to-face.”
Linebacker Bart Scott was slightly more blunt. (Imagine that.) “Man up,” Scott said. “Drop your balls. Have a pair. Say it. LT’s a lot classier than I am. I’d have fired back with an atomic bomb.”
Even coach Rex Ryan got in on the act, too. “Yeah, I think it’s hilarious,” Ryan told Silver. “Here’s one of the finest players in the
history of your organization, if not the finest, and a former NFL Man of
the Year. Every franchise would love to have a person and player like
that. And they’re taking shots at that guy? We’ve got a great back in
LaDainian. He’s tremendous. Does he look like he’s through? Absolutely
not. He’s strong. He looks fast. He looks tremendous to me.”
So far, Tomlinson has indeed been tremendous; a 21-yard run early in the second quarter of Sunday night’s win over the Dolphins proved that Tomlinson still has that old burst, the one that he was supposedly too old to pull off. Shonn Greene, who was presumed by many to be poised to develop into a high-end tailback, has only 106 yards, with an anemic average of 3.5 per carry.