I’m calling it a lock.
This year LaDaininan Tomlinson will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will do so on his first year of eligibility. It takes a special player to accomplish that feat, and the former running back meets that elite criteria:
Consider the following:
In almost every article on the Internet that announced the Finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame it was nearly always Tomlinson who headlined the piece.
He is currently ranked 5th all-time in rushing yards, 2nd all-time in Rushing Touchdowns, is a former MVP, has three First Team All-Pro selections and two rushing titles.
He can make a claim that at one time he was the best in his position.
He is well respected by his peers and had no off-field issues.
So confident about his Hall of Fame chances, Sportsbettingdime.com rated his chances as 1/9 to get indicted this year.
I will call this one a 50/50 prediction. Tomlinson will be the last Running Back to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame for at least twenty years.
Some of you might be thinking about Minnesota Viking (for now anyway), Adrian Peterson who also has an MVP Award and has one more rushing title and one more First Team All Pro selection than L.T., but does not appear to have much left in the tank and will probably finish 1,500 career yards behind him. He also has the burden of having a suspension due to child abuse: a touchy issue that won’t cost him a bust in Canton but has a strong chance to delay a first year induction, especially if he reties alongside another superstar player, like a Tom Brady perhaps?
If Frank Gore continues to play, he could pass Tomlinson in Yards, but does he seem like a first year inductee to you? He will have to keep compiling to even really be considered, as despite five Pro Bowls, he has never finished in the top 5 in Rushing Yards.
Rushers like Frank Gore are also becoming rare. Players are retiring earlier, fearing long-term effects of the game. General Managers are focusing more on the scheme and a string Offensive Line. Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys received a lot of praise for his prowess in his rookie year, but much of the credit has gone to the O-Line of Dallas, and rightfully so. Running Backs are more expendable than ever, making it less likely for the same rusher to be a star year after year.
It’s possible that we could have a seven to ten year run in the near future where no Running Backs get inducted at all.
Fans of the running game should enjoy the impending induction of LaDainian Tomlinson. It will be awhile before you see another!