The truly great players, the enduring legends of this game, are not only blessed with immense physical ability, but also a combination of desire, pride, and focus to push through failures while not be satisfied by momentary success. We saw it with Jerry Rice in 2002 and Brett Favre last year, and now, we are seeing it with LaDainian Tomlinson in 2010.
Tomlinson has been nothing short of remarkable this season at age 31. LT appeared washed up in San Diego. He was averaging under 4.0 yards a carry the last two years, and fell to a career-low 730 yards rushing. He’s going to blow by those numbers this year. Is he getting better blocking? Sure he is. But he’s also noticeably better than he was last year. I won’t say that he is back to the guy he was at 25, but he is showing the determination and ability that allowed him to go eight straight years with 1,500 yards from scrimmage.
I could tell you the likelihood of a running back his age having a career revival based on past history, but I’d rather say that the exceptions like Tomlinson are the reason we watch sports. We don’t want the players to know the odds they faced when down 10 with 3 minutes left, we want them to play hard until the last whistle. We don’t want them to know how age affects and robs them of their skills; we want them to overcome. I’m glad Tomlinson doesn’t care to listen to what happens to running backs at his age, or we would never get a return like this. [photo via Getty]