LaDainian Tomlinson Mentions Oakland Raiders in Retirement Speech
John Doublin – Jun 18, 2012
Perennial Pro-Bowler and former NFL MVP running back LaDainian Tomlinson signed a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers, then promply announced his retirement from the NFL.
Throughout his career, Tomlinson was known as one of the best backs in NFL history and finished fifth all-time in rushing yards and third all-time in rushing touchdowns.
So, why are we discussing this on a site devoted to the Oakland Raiders?
Raider Nation often referred to Tomlinson as a "Raider-Killer" because of his consistently great individual performances against the Silver and Black.
Many have speculated why he always did so well against the Raiders—much better than against other teams in most cases—because he had some deep seeded hatred for the men from the east bay.
His retirement speech has shed some light on that subject.
After the obligatory photo ops with Chargers owner Dean Spanos "L.T." took to the podium to make his intentions of retiring clear.
His speech started much like every other retirement speech, "I've always felt like a Charger. Thanks to the Chargers organization and Dean Spanos." He then went on to thank the Jets for his two years there and a lot of the coaches that he played for over the years.
After about four or five minutes of the same old, same old of thanking his coaches, teammates, and his mother, the question and answer portion began. What prompted this article was Tomlinson's response to one question in particular.
One reporter asked, "Was there any team that you enjoyed beating more than the Raiders?" As a die-hard, lifetime, card-carrying member of Raider Nation, this peaked my interest.
Tomlinson's response was expected. He said that he enjoyed beating the Raiders more than any other team. He said that coming from Texas, rivalry games were like championship games, and that's how he felt about Raider games—they were championship games.
Except, they weren't.
In fact, very rarely did a Raiders/Chargers game even mean much at all—not for the division race, or a playoff race. The Raiders were only a real threat for the division title or the playoffs in Tomlinson's first two years, 2001-02.
So, why the venom? Why the need to stick it to the Raiders?
L.T. explained that in his rookie year, (2001) he remembers playing the Raiders for the first time at home, in Week-14 and the Raiders had more fans present than the Chargers did. The Chargers lost that game 13-6.
Awww...cry me a river!
He said he told himself that he wasn't going to let that happen again, so he became focused and determined to beat the Raiders every chance he got.
Treating a rivalry game differently than a regular game is one thing, but to treat it like it's a championship game is another thing entirely.
This begs the question: Doesn't that statement in and of itself prove that the Raiders and their fans did exactly what they set out to do—get into his head?
When you consider that Tomlinson always saw the Raiders games as championship games and played accordingly, but that he was never able to win an actual championship game, it becomes clear that Tomlinson had his priorities "out of whack," to quote Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie.
Had Tomlinson spent as much energy and effort preparing for every team like he did the Raiders, maybe he gets that elusive Super Bowl berth—maybe even a ring. It seems all the time he spent on the Raiders could have been better spent preparing for actual playoff games.
In his nine seasons with the Chargers, Tomlinson amassed some absolutely astronomical stats and accolades. Hall of Fame worthy stats for certain. However, in those nine seasons in San Diego, he also "amassed" a playoff record of 3-5, (including an AFC championship loss to the Patriots).
Now, I know this sounds like an article written by a bitter, "homer," but that's okay—because it was!
Ultimately, if Tomlinson had utilized his great talent against the rest of his league the way he did against the Raiders, maybe he wouldn't be considered "one of the best players never to make it to a Super Bowl."
I'm not trying to take anything away from Tomlinson's talent or to disrespect him as a human being. Every interview I've seen and everything I've heard about him suggests that he was a wonderful person and a good role model for young players and children everywhere. His accomplishments on the field are among the best ever as well.
But—just spit-balling here—don't you think if he were able to "turn it on" for the Raiders every time they played, why he never "turned it on" for the really big games that actually mattered?
It seems to this Raider fan that Raider Nation did their job extremely well against this guy. We got in his head and had him thinking long and hard about us and our team when he should have been taking care of business against teams like the Colts, Patriots, Steelers and Jets!
Just goes to show the power of a fan base. Tomlinson was so jealous of the support Raider Nation gave to their team at away games, that he spent more effort on beating us than beating other teams that were bigger threats to his success.
Way to go Raider Nation—way to go!
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