On Friday’s PFT Live, a Twitter question was considered regarding the status of running back LaDainian Tomlinson. I explained (if I recall correctly, and there’s a chance I don’t) that the market for veteran running backs coupled with the fact that Tomlinson wouldn’t be playing special teams makes him far less attractive than a youngster with high tread on the tires and low financial expectations.
And so it’s unlikely that Tomlinson will play in 2012.
It’s even more unlikely, given that he says it’s highly unlikely. Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated recently tweeted that Tomlinson said he is “95 percent retired.” Tomlinson added that it will take the right team and situation to get him to play again.
The “right team” is likely a Super Bowl contender, and the “right situation” is likely a depth chart where he would be no lower than No. 2. And where he may get something more than the veteran minimum.
Barring an injury to a key player, Tomlinson likely won’t find what he wants. And even if a first-string or second-string tailback tears a critical tendon or ligament, chances are that the team will back-fill with one of the many former college running backs who are more than capable of moving the chains if they are provided with blocking.
Even if he’s done, Tomlinson already has done enough to get to Canton, probably on the first try. He’s fifth all-time in rushing yards (13,684), second all-time in rushing touchdowns (145), and third all-time in total touchdowns (162). Tomlinson also owns a single-season record that could take on DiMaggio proportions, given the trend away from workhorse tailbacks and toward passing the ball heavily. With 31 touchdowns in 2006, the closest any running back has come in the five seasons since then is LeSean McCoy, with 20 in 2011.