When it comes to carving faces in a fictional piece of rock, it takes a lot to get me to actually care what’s being said. The San Diego Chargers’ version of a Mount Rushmore was revealed by the folks at PFT, and an unthinkable omission has been drawing some attention.
And rightfully so. One of the best running backs in the history of the NFL, LaDainian Tomlinson was left off of their fictional rock creation for the Bolts. The four faces included instead were Dan Fouts, Lance Alworth, Charlie Joiner, and Junior Seau. While all of these guys were fine players during their respective careers with the team, it’s arguable that LT ranks higher at his position than any of them at theirs.
Rest assured that Seau is safe at his position on the fictitious piece of rock. His career in lightning bolts was one that transcended the league in many ways cementing his place in stone. I can’t make a case to remove Fouts and his glorious beard either, because it really was the symbol of the Chargers during the Air Coryell days. Plus he ranks 11th on the all-time passing yards list despite the influx of aerial attacks in the league today. His spot is certainly safe.
Now we come to two receivers in Joiner and Alworth who both had spectacular careers with the franchise. Joiner spent his final 10 seasons as a player with the Bolts and stuck around for five more as a coach following his playing career and returned for a final five that just recently concluded in 2012. He ranks 18th all-time in career receiving yards which is pretty impressive considering the way receivers are putting up numbers these days.
As for Alworth, he was one of the original franchise faces as he joined the team in 1962 shortly after its inception back in the AFL days. “Bambi” as he was known around the league was thought of as one of the most graceful receivers to ever play the game. He ranks 35th on the all-time list in terms of career receiving yards.
Now we get to LT who was the Chargers for the majority of the past decade. His time in San Diego never resulted in an elusive Super Bowl title, but neither did any of the other faces on this make-believe rock. Tomlinson ranks fifth on the all-time rushing yards list and second to only Emmitt Smith in terms of rushing touchdowns with 145. Heck, his 162 total touchdowns rank him third on the all-time list behind only Smith and the great Jerry Rice.
The points made by the group at PFT saying that Tomlinson would rather have a Hall of Fame career than a championship are valid, but his drive for success wasn’t solely individually based. LT was the only reason the Bolts won at all during his first few seasons in the league, and he literally carried this franchise on his back during that time period. The task of removing one of these faces to replace it with his is difficult, but Joiner has to be the guy to be replaced.
Alworth is far too iconic for the franchise to take him off so Joiner is the odd man out. Eight years of his 19-year career were spent in a uniform not displaying lightning bolts so that cushions the blow a bit. Add in the laundry list of accomplishments that LT compiled in San Diego and the choice is clear.
There’s no reason to get bent out of shape over a fictional piece of rock, but the omission of LaDainian Tomlinson from PFT’s Mt. Rushmore is asinine. He is arguably one of the best players in league history and inarguably one of its most productive. The least you can do is give the man his spot on the side of a make-believe mountain somewhere.