LaDainian Tomlinson: The NFL's Alex Rodriguez
Near the end of the first quarter of Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game, CBS's Jim Nantz wondered aloud if Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson would play if San Diego were move on.
The result of Sunday's game, along with Tomlinson's health, won't matter. Even if the Bolts host the Baltimore Ravens with a trip to Super Bowl XLIII on the line and Tomlinson suits up, he won't have much of an effect on the game.
Tomlinson is all-world from September to December. Once January rolls around, the man this generation of football fans know as LT disappears.
Sound familiar, baseball fans?
It should. LaDainian Tomlinson is the NFL's version of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
During their respective regular seasons, both players are sure-fire Hall of Famers.
Tomlinson has rushed for 11,760 yards and 126 touchdowns in eight NFL seasons. That pans out to averages of 1,470 yards and about 16 touchdowns per season.
In 13 full seasons and two partial seasons in the majors, Rodriguez has a .306 batting average, with seasonal averages of 42 home runs and 123 RBI.
Both players have won league Most Valuable Player honors. Both players are considered to be amongst the best at their respective positions. Heck, both players have been mentioned as the best to ever play their respective positions.
But when playoff time comes around, Tomlinson and Rodriguez become different players. Do they lose their motivation? Are they just not clutch?
Tomlinson uses ticky-tack injuries to cover his shortcomings. Rodriguez simply ignores them.
In six career playoff games, Tomlinson averages 50.5 yards and less than a touchdown per game. That pales in comparison to his regular season per-game averages of 92.6 yards and a touchdown.
The drop-off in Rodriguez's statistics are just as sharp. He has a .279 postseason average to go along with just seven home runs and 17 RBI in 39 career postseason games.
One more stat Yankees fans, especially, loathe: Rodriguez has 38 strikeouts in those 39 games, 22 of which have come with Rodriguez wearing pinstripes.
While Tomlinson and Rodriguez will more than likely head to Canton, Ohio, and Cooperstown, N.Y., respectively, the praise these players receive needs to be curtailed to a degree. Other players in the NFL and MLB get the job done when everything is on the line while these two do not.
Success is measured in championships. In 21 full seasons, combined, Tomlinson and Rodriguez have as many titles, combined, as I do, zero.
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