CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Moments after one of the best running backs in NFL history entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame, another followed: LaDainian Tomlinson.
Preceded Saturday by Terrell Davis, the record-setting Tomlinson became the fifth inductee of the night, presented by former San Diego teammate (and lead blocker) Lorenzo Neal.
The fifth overall selection in the 2001 draft, Tomlinson won rushing titles in 2006-07, taking league MVP honors in ’06 when he set a record with 31 touchdowns. Also a strong receiver, he added 4,772 yards and 17 TD receptions to his career numbers for 13,684 yards rushing and 145 scores. Tomlinson even threw seven touchdown passes.
From 2004-05, he set a league mark with 18 straight game with a rushing TD.
The 2006 NFL Man of the Year, Tomlinson was voted to the 2000s All-Decade Team.
In a powerful speech filled with religious references and a call to Americans to be open-minded and open-hearted, Tomlinson also paid tribute to his predecessors.
“I grew up dreaming about running the ball like the great Jim Brown, the late Walter Payton, and the NFL all-time rusher Emmitt Smith,” he said. “Tonight I stand on the shoulders of you.”
He spoke of two brief meetings with Smith at a football camp when he was 12, and how that gave him the confidence to pursue his football dreams.
And he asked “Team America” to “choose to be for one another.”