The San Diego Chargers will retire former running back LaDanian Tomlinson's No. 21 jersey at halftime of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium on Nov. 22. He will also be inducted into the Chargers' Hall of Fame during the 2015 NFL season.
The San Diego Chargers will retire LaDanian Tomlinson's No. 21 jersey in November.
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More specifically, the Chargers will retire his jersey number at halftime of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium on Nov. 22, per a June 10 press release on the team's official website.
Chargers team president A.G. Spanos also announced on Wednesday the team will induct Tomlinson, one of the NFL's all-time great running backs, to the team's Hall of Fame during the 2015 NFL season, per Chargers.com.
Tomlinson become just the fourth player in Chargers franchise history to have his number retired. According to the Chargers' official website, the other three are wide receiver Lance Alworth (19), quarterback Dan Fouts (14) and linebacker Junior Seau (55). Tomlinson will also become the 38th member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.
San Diego will also place Tomlinson in its Ring of Honor, per Chargers. com.
The Chargers will organize a press conference on Thursday, June 11, to announce their plans to honor Tomlinson this season.
Chargers chairman Dean Spanos told the team's official website he considers Tomlinson, who was known as "LT" during his playing days, as the "heart and soul" of the franchise during its successful run in the 2000s:
"This is a special, special opportunity for the Chargers family and all Chargers fans. Few players, if any, have meant more to this franchise than LT. He was the heart and soul of this team through one of the most successful decades in our history.
"I couldn't wait to watch him play every week because I knew I would see something special. And that's what he gave all of us: special memories we'll carry with us forever."
Perhaps Tomlinson's most memorable season as a pro was in 2006, when he set league records for rushing touchdowns (28), total touchdowns (31) and points scored (186) on his way to earning NFL MVP honors. That was also Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers' first as a starter, per Ricky Henne of the Chargers' official website.
Rivers chimed in on the Chargers honoring Tomlinson, per Henne:
"For a long time now, I've thought of him as a Chargers Hall of Famer and a future NFL Hall of Famer. I always thought of that number having been put away, as it should be. It was really a pleasure playing with him.
"The way he went about it, the year he broke the touchdown record, it was heck of a run he had here. It was a heck of a career.
"It's meaningful for me and the guys who played with him. Obviously you see the other guys. Fouts, Alworth, Junior, but you didn't play with them. You know them and talked to them, but you didn't play with them.
"Now to have a guy you played with, it is special. And the second part is it lets you know you've played a while! If a teammate of yours is already going into the team's Hall of Fame, that means you've hung around a pretty good while."
On the other hand, Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who played with Tomlinson for six seasons, told Henne he looks up to "LT" as a big brother:
"He's been an awesome big brother to me on and off the field. It was a privilege to play with him. He sacrificed a lot for us, and got us a bunch of wins. I appreciate his effort and everything he did for us. He had a great career, and it was an honor to play with him.
"It's going to be awesome to look up and see that number up there, although it makes me feel old! But I'm trying to live on that legacy for him, and I'm trying to get us a Super Bowl win because we all deserve one."
San Diego made Tomlinson the fifth overall pick of the 2001 NFL draft out of Texas Christian University. He promptly got his career off to a great start when he ran for 113 yards against the Washington Redskins in his very first game that year, becoming only the 20th player to rush for more than 100 yards in his pro debut, per Chargers.com.
Tomlinson would eventually rush for a franchise record 12,490 yards in his nine seasons with the Chargers, per The San Diego Union-Tribune's Michael Gehlken. He either broke or tied for a total of 28 franchise records.
After spending the 2010 and 2011 NFL seasons with the New York Jets, he upped his rushing total to 13,684, good for fifth-most in NFL history. For his career, he ran for 145 touchdowns, second most in league history behind Emmitt Smith, per Gehlken.
Tomlinson also is active in the community.
Dating back to his days with the Chargers, he hosted "The 21 Club," where he invited 21 San Diego-based children to attend the team's home games. He gave each of them a special gift once the game was over, per Chargers.com.
The foundation eventually paved the way for his "School Is Cool Scholarship Fund." Here, he personally handpicked 30 college-bound students every year to receive scholarships. Fifteen of those students came from San Diego while the other 15 were from his Waco, Texas high school, per the Chargers' official website.
Tomlinson, who will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, currently works as an analyst for the NFL Network, per Chargers.com.
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