In 24 hours, we'll find out if LaDainian Tomlinson takes his rightful place in Canton as a first ballot Hall of Famer. Ahead of the potential announcement, many of LT's closest teammates and coaches during his tenure with the Chargers shared their favorite memories of number 21.
Quarterback Philip Rivers:"The way he practiced was awesome. I remember calling home and telling my dad, 'You should see this guy practice!' That stood out to me. Here was this superstar and here is how he practiced. How he finished runs in games was just the way he practiced, and it was awesome."
Fullback Lorenzo Neal: "My favorite was one of our Raiders games when he caught a touchdown pass, he threw a touchdown pass and he ran for a touchdown. It was unbelievable. There wasn't anything that he could not do."
Outside Linebacker Shaun Phillips:"When he got the touchdown record is what sticks out. Him being held up in the air with Kris Dielman holding him after he got his 29th touchdown. That was special. I also want to thank LT for teaching me the difference between working out and training. He gave a big speech to us how working out is just hitting the gym and lifting weights. Training means doing it for a certain purpose to achieve something."
President of Football Operations John Spanos:"I can't help but flash back to that moment on stage with him. I was in college when we drafted LT. I flew to New York because they wanted me at the draft table to write down the names. Back then, it was very different because they didn't fly in 20 players. It was only four or five, so it was very rare for the player to be there. Well, I get a call and am told to go on stage and give LT the jersey. So there's this picture of me and LT on stage the moment we drafted him, and I have it hung up in my office even today. That moment in time when he officially became a Charger, to be there to greet him with a jersey has always been special for me. I remember talking with him at the draft in New York, that moment with his family there; he was just so happy and he had such a genuine appreciation for everything and a humbleness. But, you could also tell he had a hunger to be great."
Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer:"I've always said when you look at him as a football player you say, 'Wow, he is a terrific running back.' But in my mind, the way he performed as a player was outmatched by only one thing – his heart."
Running Backs Coach Clarence Shelmon:"LT was unbelievable. He'd make people miss on a regular basis. That's what I remember most. In my mind, the mark of the greatest of the great running backs is the thing I look for first - the ability to defeat the first defender. LT had that in spades. If you can't beat that first guy you face, then you are dead. So all the great ones can do that. They can win vs. the first defender that they face and that is what LT had."
Tight End Antonio Gates:"The thing about LT is that he was always the constant pro. He was someone I could always depend on between those lines. That is what stood out about him the most when I first came here, and he stayed that way. No matter how rough it got, when things got tough, you could depend on LT to be there. We would run LT until the wheels fell off. And then of course when he got the record, the whole stadium shook."
Left Guard Kris Dielman:"As great as he was as a player, he was even a better teammate. It was great to have him in the locker room, being able to talk to him; he was just a great dude. He took care of his o-linemen. He is a great person. And then the TD run. The place was electric. I will never forget that. My family was all right there with him in that corner too, so that was special. They were able to be a part of that, too. That was a special year, man. A special moment."