San Diego Chargers Legend LaDainian Tomlinson's Hall of Fame Comments Are Valid

Individual Accomplishments Carry More Weight in NFL

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | When one of the most humble players in the recent NFL history says that he'd rather be inducted into the Hall of Fame than win a Super Bowl, it's not ironic -- it's honest.

LaDainian Tomlinson, who will go down as one of the best players ever to don a San Diego Chargers uniform, told ProFootballTalk in response to the question of whether or not he'd prefer to win a Super Bowl or be a Hall of Fame player without a ring:

"Hall of Fame player without a ring, because you've got to sacrifice so much individually to be good," Tomlinson replied.

While his response created a stir among analysts and fans alike, he's absolutely entitled to feel that way given his credentials -- but moreover, his reasoning makes perfect sense.

Football requires symmetry and a complete team effort in many different facets of the game to win a Super Bowl. It's not a reach to make the case that individual success has the smallest impact in the NFL among other major professional sports such as the NBA, MLB, or NHL, especially when it comes to the running back position in football.

For example, running back Barry Sanders, widely considered one of the all-time greats, amassed 15,269 rushing yards and 109 total touchdowns in a career that lasted 10 seasons with the Detroit Lions.

While he had knack for electrifying fans with his incredible ability to make defenders miss and look foolish, the Lions only made the playoffs for five seasons during his active years between 1989 and 1998. But there was never any doubt that he was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.

A more recent example is Curtis Martin, who will be part of the 2012 Hall of Fame class come August. The former New England Patriots and New York Jets star piled up over 14,000 yards on the ground and 100 total touchdowns in an 11-year career.

He was also on the losing end of a Super Bowl while playing in New England and had a 1-1 record in Conference Championship games. At the running back position, his ability to affect a game depended largely on the amount of touches he was given.

In LT's case, he was speaking from the heart and to the reality of the situation. He knows how much he sacrificed to be the player he was, and that's the only thing he had complete control over throughout his career.

That hard work manifested itself into over 18,456 combined rushing and receiving yards and 162 total touchdowns over an 11-year career. Those numbers translate into seventh in NFL history for all-purpose yards and third all-time for total touchdowns.

A player can't do much more to contribute than what Tomlinson did both on and off the field to lead the Chargers during his outstanding career.

Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Diego Chargers and the NFL. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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