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LT, Coryell Finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame

The NFL announced the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Tuesday night, and the list features a pair of Chargers legends.  Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson is a finalist in his first year of eligibility while Head Coach Don Coryell is in his 30th year. This is Coryell's fourth year as a finalist.

The Chargers all-time leading rusher, LT was one of the most explosive running backs the game has ever seen.  He set or tied a total of 28 team records, including marks for career rushing yards, rushing touchdowns in a season and total touchdowns. Tomlinson's 13,684 career rushing yards rank fifth in NFL history while he is also second all-time in rushing touchdowns (145), third in total touchdowns (162) and fifth in yards from scrimmage (18,456).  Most notably, he set the NFL all-time mark with 31 touchdowns in a single season in 2006, when he also ran for a league-high 1,815 yards.

In 2015, Tomlinson became only the fourth Charger to have his number retired, joining Hall of Famers Lance Alworth, Dan Fouts and Junior Seau.

"For a long time now, I've thought of him as a Chargers Hall of Famer and a future NFL Hall of Famer," Philip Rivers said at the time.   "I always thought of that number having been put away, as it should be.  It was really a pleasure playing with him.  The way he went about it, the year he broke the touchdown record, it was a heck of a run he had here.  It was a heck of a career."

Meanwhile, the NFL wouldn't be what it is today without Coryell and his revolutionary passing philosophies. Serving as the Chargers head coach from 1978-86, he recorded a 72-60 all-time record as the Bolts won three division titles, played in four divisional playoff games and two AFC Championship Games. 

He's most known for establishing his "Air Coryell" offense, and the way he attacked through the passing game was truly ground-breaking at the time. Coryell was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1994 and in 2010 was named one of the 50 Greatest Chargers of All-Time in 2010

"I think he had tremendous influence on the game, and all you have to do is watch each Sunday and see how the game has evolved since his coaching," his former QB Dan Fouts said in recent years.  "I talk to Hall of Fame voters all the time about why Don should be in the Hall of Fame, and it's because he contributed so much to it. I could give them a dozen reasons; it is not just one or two things.  His influence on the way the game is played offensively and defensively of course, but his use of personnel, creativity and fearlessness, too.  Just the overall feeling of confidence that he gave us as a football team; every time we went on the field, we knew we had a superior plan and a fearless coach."

"Coach Coryell deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it's a shame that he is not," Hall of Fame TE Kellen Winslow added.  "So many offenses that are being run today are variations of Air Coryell. They call it the West Coast offense because San Francisco won Super Bowls with it, but it was a variation of what we did in San Diego. He deserves to be there just as much as anybody else; any other coach who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

The Hall of Fame Class of 2017 will be announced the day before the Super Bowl on February 4, with each finalist requiring 80% of the vote to be inducted into Canton. The other 13 Modern Era finalists are Morten Anderson, Tony Boselli, Isaac Bruce, Terrell Davis, Brian Dawkins, Alan Faneca, Joe Jacoby, Ty Law, John Lynch, Kevin Mawae, Terrell Owens, Jason Taylor and Kurt Warner.

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