Tomlinson could be holding the NFL’s DiMaggio record

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Lost in the shuffle of the ongoing developments in the bounty case is the fact that one of the greatest running backs in NFL history no longer will be the subject of any actual, alleged, or perceived bounties.

LaDainian Tomlinson officially called it quits on Monday, and I carved out a small portion of PFT Live to pay homage to his accomplishments.

Apart from the fact that Tomlinson finished fifth on the all-time rushing list, Tomlinson holds a record that, like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, may never be broken — at least not by a running back.

In 2006, Tomlinson set the single-season touchdown record, with 31.  It represented the culmination of a steady climb, with Shaun Alexander setting the record via 28 touchdowns the prior season, Priest Holmes notching the prior high of 27 two years earlier, and Marshall Faulk set the former high-water mark with 26 three years before.

Five years before that, Emmitt Smith broke John Riggins’ 12-year-old record, pushing the record from 24 to 25.

Riggins had broken O.J. Simpson’s 1975 record of 23 touchdowns, in the same year Chuck Foreman had 22.  A decade before that, Jim Brown had scored 21 times.

Since L.T. extended the record to 10 touchdowns beyond the mark Brown established 41 years earlier, no running back has even matched Brown’s number.  In 2011, LeSean McCoy scored 20 touchdowns, the most for any running back since Tomlinson’s current record.  (DeAngelo Williams also scored 20 in 2008.)

With the ongoing trend toward the use of multiple running backs, it’s unlikely that any running back with the skill to surpass Tomlinson’s record will get the opportunities — especially with the league continuing to emphasize the passing game.

And so Tomlinson’s record could last for a long, long time.

Unless, of course, a receiver breaks it.

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18 responses to “Tomlinson could be holding the NFL’s DiMaggio record

  1. I’d look for a Darren Sproles-type player to break it eventually, if it ever gets broken. Between runs, receptions, and kick/punt return opportunities, he gets enough touches to make it happen. A pure running back might not get the chance ever again…at least not while there are only 16 games.

  2. Honestly in my opinion the record that will never be broken is emmit smiths rushing record… Its becoming a passing league i doubt that one will ever be broken

  3. his record is 4 touchdowns more than the previous record and you think it’ll never be broken?

    his record won’t last through the next decade.

  4. Joe DiMaggio didn’t have to run around telling everyone “I have class!”

    People already KNEW he did.

  5. Only way that I could see it broken is by a wide receiver like Calvin Johnson or Fitzgerald. Probably will not be broken by a running back within the next decade. Main reason is that the NFL has changed so much, it is not the ground game that is used all the time, it is now the passing game.

  6. Not sure – you could have a big back that only runs inside the 10 yard line. I can see this being like a relief pitcher down the road. Look at LenDale White in 2008 – he had 15 tds all being from about the 2 yard line. Get a big body in there any I could see someone getting 2 tds a game in the future. That way your #1 back can stick to gaining the big yards.

  7. Emmitt Smith’s record will be broken. As offences and defenses focus more on the pass, the opportunity will be there for a Shanahan-esque coach with the right back to create a devastating running attack, especially as head-hit rules and an increasing inability to tackle (rather than just hit) would seem to be ripe for a Marshall Faulk or Barry Sanders-type player to run roughshod over the league. Smith’s record is not due to being the best running back of his generation; it was due to having opportunity and longevity.

    Someday, I suspect in my lifetime, we will see an LDT or AP-type player who manages to avoid all the injuries and racks up 5-or-6 phenomenal seasons and 6-7 good ones to bump Smith to second place.

  8. Joe DiMaggio’s record is more akin Johnny Unitas’ record for consecutive games with a TD pass.

    That record has stood since, what 1960? I don’t care if the record books say otherwise (looking at you Drew Brees, maybe?) for someone to throw 47 consecutive games with a TD pass is amazing, especially considering it was in the 50’s and 60’s where rules didn’t favor an arena league esque passing attack. IMO even if Bree’s “breaks” Unitas’ record EVERYONE will consider Johnny U’s record as the legit one.

  9. thenewenglandpatriots12 says:Jun 19, 2012 11:30 PM

    Honestly in my opinion the record that will never be broken is emmit smiths rushing record… Its becoming a passing league i doubt that one will ever be broken

    Things change man-always do. What is a passing league today will be a running league tomorrow (or in this case in a decade or whatever). The way the rules are enforced now has led to an emphasis on the passing game but when fans tire of Arena Football scores, the running game matched with a killer defense will be back.

  10. One other thing to note is that his name is LaDainian.

    I know of no other in history, nor can I foresee any future NFL running backs named LaDainian.

    Yet another record that will most likely go unbroken.

  11. Barry Sanders has the DiMaggio record. No back is gonna run for 100+ in 14 straight games ever again. Teams don’t have feature backs and the running game is fading fast from football which is devaluing the RB position

  12. What, the league didn’t emphasize the passing game back in 2006?

    Teams were still primarily committed to a one back system?

    NFL teams are statistically still running the ball as much as they were 20 years ago. No one has approached Tomlinson’s record because guess what, it’s a difficult mark to reach, no matter what the era. McCoy is a good player but he can’t carry Tomlinson’s jock.

    Teams use multiple backs(players who are good in one area but not every area) because they can’t find a complete franchise “bellcow” like Tomlinson, Faulk, Payton, Smith, Sanders. The three yards and a cloud of dust mentality may have changed but there will always be a place in this league for guys like that.

  13. I think it’ll just take a player who has good receiving skills and rushing skills on a team with a bad defense.

    Someone who can run and catch touchdowns. Elite players aren’t in rotations as much as you might think they are. The rotations are for good players, not great ones.

  14. he single handled won me games in fantasy football that year.

    we need a fantasy hall of fame. he would be a first ballot.

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