The great LaDainian Tomlinson hung up his cleats this week, signing a ceremonial contract with the San Diego Chargers Monday, officially retiring as a member of the team for which he played the first nine -- and best nine -- years of his career.
LT is a fascinating statistical case study for the Cold, Hard Football Facts. He's certainly a bona fide Hall of Famer, most likely a first-ballot entrant into Canton.
But he also earned a bit of infamy for his struggles in the playoffs. We never saw the same explosive LT in the postseason that we saw in the regular season. The proof of that disparity is found in many of the numbers listed below.
Tomlinson is also a textbook example of the harshest, most brutal truth about violent life in the NFL: men age fast. Very fast in the Not For Long League.
Proud players can rarely admit it. But the Cold, Hard Football Facts show that even this brilliant Hall of Famer, who turns 33 Saturday, was washed up at age 30, never the same player that he was in his 20s.
It seems Jim Brown's exit from the game looks better and more dignified with each passing year. Brown walked off the field at age 29, fresh off a 1965 season in which he led the NFL in attempts (289), rushing yards (1,544) and rushing touchdowns (17).
If LT had done the same after the 2008 season, we might remember him the way we remember Brown: forever young, forever rushing for 1,000 yards.
Here's a look at the mostly brilliant but sometimes lackluster career of the great LaDainian Tomlinson, By the Numbers.
0 -- Number of times LT ran for 1,000 yards after age 30 (three seasons). It's a young man's game, folks.
1 -- Number of running backs in NFL history who ran for 1,000 yards in a season while catching 100+ passes. Tomlinson in 2003 ran the ball 313 times for 1,645 yards and 13 TDs, while catching 100 passes for 725 yards and 4 TDs.
1 -- Number of times LT ran for 100 yards in 10 postseason games. That lone 100-yard performance came in San Diego's 24-21 home loss to New England in the 2006 playoffs.
2 -- Number of running backs in NFL history who caught 100 passes in a season: Tomlinson (100 in 2003) and Larry Centers (101 in 1995). Centers ran the ball just 78 times for 254 yards that season.
2 -- Number of times LT led the NFL in rushing yards: 1,815 in 2006; 1,474 in 2007.
3 -- Number of times LT led the NFL in rushing TDs: 2004 (17); 2006 (28); and 2007 (15).
3 -- Number of times Tomlinson topped 100 yards receiving in a game. The most recent effort took place just last season, when Tomlinson caught 5 passes for 116 yards in the Jets' 34-24 loss at Oakland.
3.57 -- Tomlinson's average per rush attempt in the postseason.
3.72 -- Tomlinson's average per rush attempt in his 30s.
4 -- Number or times LT ran for 200 yards in a game, all four of them in the 2002 and 2003 seasons, tied for third on the all-time list with Jim Brown, Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders. Only two players in history produced more 200-yard efforts: Tiki Barber (5) and O.J. Simpson (6).
4.31 -- Tomlinson's average per rush attempt in the regular season.
4.42 -- Tomlinson's average per rush attempt in his 20s.
5 -- Career rank in rushing yards (13,684), behind Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin.
6 -- Number of starts Tomlinson missed in the 10 seasons from 2001 to 2010. He started just one game in 2011.
7 -- Number of touchdown passes thrown by Tomlinson in his career. The most recent came in San Diego's 14-3 win over Chicago in Week 1 of the 2007 season. It was a 17-yard throw to Antonio Gates in the third quarter which proved the winning points.
8 -- Number of times, in 8 opportunities, that Tomlinson ran for 1,000 yards while still in his 20s. He failed to reach 1,000 yards rushing in all three seasons played in his 30s.
10.13 -- Tomlinson's career-best average per rush attempt. That effort came in San Diego's 42-28 win over Minnesota during the 2003 season. He ran the ball 16 times for 162 yards and 2 TD.
17.6 -- LT's average touchdowns scored per season in his 20s. He averaged 7.0 TDs per season in his 30s.
28 -- Rushing touchdowns LT scored in 2006, breaking the previous mark of 27 set by Kansas City's Priest Holmes in 2003 and matched by Seattle's Shaun Alexander in 2005. Tomlinson's mark is still an NFL record.
31 -- Total touchdowns LT scored in 2006, breaking the previous mark of 28 set by Alexander just one year earlier and still an NFL record.
33 -- Age that LT turns on Saturday (June 23).
44.7 -- Tomlinson's average rushing yards per game in his 30s.
46.8 -- LT's rushing yards per game in the postseason
47 -- Number of times Tomlinson ran for 100 yards in a game. The last 100-yard effort came on October 3, 2010, in a 38-14 Jets' win over the Bills.
50 -- Rushing touchdowns in three seasons at Texas Christian, 42 in his final two years.
80.5 -- Rushing yards per game in the regular season.
92.6 -- Tomlinson's average rushing yards per game in his 20s, more than double the average in his 30s (44.7).
113.62 -- Jim Brown's career Rusher Rating, No. 2 all time, according to the formula devised by Ken Crippen, the executive director of the Pro Football Researchers' Association and CHFF contributor.
118.76 -- Tomlinson's career Rusher Rating heading into the 2011 season, tops in NFL history.
129 -- Tomlinson's all-time rank on the ProFootballReference.com NFL EloRator, a project that attempts to rate the best players in history. Tomlinson ranks right behind Len Dawson and just ahead of Marvin Harrison.
145 -- Career rushing touchdowns, No. 2 all time behind Emmitt Smith (164).
146.9 -- Tomlinson's career passer rating. Sorry, Peyton, Aaron and Tom. LT completed 8 of 12 passes for 143 yards, 11.9 YPA, 7 TD and 0 INT.
162 -- Total career touchdowns, No. 3 all-time behind Jerry Rice (208) and Emmitt Smith (175).
624 -- Career receptions, third al- time among running backs behind Larry Centers (827) and Marshall Faulk (767).
2006 -- Season in which LT was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player. The 2006 Chargers set franchise records with 14 wins, 492 points scored and a +189 scoring differential.
2,100 -- Number of Thanksgiving meals distributed to needy families in the San Diego area each year by Tomlinson's Touching Lives Foundation.
2,158 -- Rushing yards in his junior and final season at Texas Christian, best in the nation.
4,132 -- Rushing yards in his sophomore and junior seasons at Texas Christian, on 673 carries. That's an average of 6.14 YPA, for those of you keeping score at home.
4,772 -- Career receiving yards by Tomlinson, No. 15 all-time among running backs, one spot behind Herschel Walker (4,859). Marshall Faulk is the all-time leader in receiving yards by a RB (6,875).
18,456 -- Career yards from scrimmage, No. 5 all-time behind Jerry Rice (23,540), Emmitt Smith (21,579), Walter Payton (21,264) and Marshall Faulk (19,154).