SAN DIEGO (AP) — No one will wear No. 21 for the San Diego Chargers again.
The team will officially retire star running back LaDainian Tomlinson’s jersey during a Nov. 22 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The team made the announcement on Thursday with a smiling Tomlinson looking on.
“I’m speechless and don’t know what to say about it,” Tomlinson said. “It’s amazing.”
Tomlinson was just that in his nine seasons with the Chargers and was the NFL MVP in 2006.
Tomlinson, a five-time Pro Bowler who retired following the 2011 season after also spending time with the New York Jets, is the fourth Charger to have his number retired. He joins Hall of Famers Lance Alworth (No. 19) and Dan Fouts (No. 14) and Junior Seau (No. 55), who goes into the Hall of Fame this summer.
Tomlinson set or tied 28 club records, including rushing for a franchise-best 12,480 yards. His 13,684 rushing yards are fifth-most in NFL history and his 145 rushing touchdowns are second only to Emmitt Smith.
“What a humbling day,” said Tomlinson, an NFL Network analyst. “So many memories and thoughts run through my mind at this moment that I am at a loss for words. How can you explain getting your number retired and being honored in this way? I don’t even know how I got here.”
He became a Charger when then-general manager John Butler traded out of the 2001 NFL draft’s top spot and the chance to select quarterback Michael Vick. Butler collected a package that included the fifth overall pick, where he took Tomlinson.
Tomlinson thanked his three Chargers head coaches: Mike Riley, Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner. He also mentioned his two running backs coaches, Clarence Shelmon and Ollie Wilson.
Many current and former Chargers attended the news conference, including quarterback Philip Rivers and rookie running back Melvin Gordon.
But the day belonged to Tomlinson, one of the more popular players to wear a Chargers uniform.
It wasn’t the time to talk about the Chargers possibly relocating to the Los Angeles area, although Tomlinson made his position clear.
“I’m a San Diego Charger and this organization is doing everything possible to stay in San Diego,” he said. “There was never a thought in my mind that this would happen someplace else.”
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