Who is the real L.T.?
- Published: June 18, 2012 at 10:47 p.m.
- Updated: June 18, 2012 at 11:37 p.m.
Asking who the real "L.T." is is the only way to start an argument faster than proposing a discussion on “LeBron v. Jordan”. Now that LaDainian Tomlinson has retired, the debate can finally be put to rest. Who has earned the right to own the nickname: Tomlinson or Lawrence Taylor? I fully realize if we were having this conversation in five years Lauren Tannehill would have to be a part of it, but, thank goodness, it's only 2012. There are plenty of categories to help us decide the rightful owner, and there must be careful consideration, because a nickname can sometimes be more valuable than a Super Bowl ring. (Okay, not really, but "Laces Out" Dan Marino might tell you different.)
Tomlinson went with the classy diamonds, which is always a sharp look. You can't overestimate the 'glint' factor. But Taylor had the earring in the shape of his initials. I remember wanting to get a pair just like them to wear, even though I was a New York Jets fan and my initials are "J.S." And here's a weird coincidence: the "LT" almost looked like ... a lightning bolt. ADVANTAGE: TAYLOR
BEST OFF-FIELD IMAGE
Tomlinson was one of the more well-liked players to ever play the game. He was as clean as Aaron Rodgers' jersey after a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Taylor? Let's just say he would look like David Carr after playing the famous Mud Bowl game, only his opponents were the 1985 Bears. ADVANTAGE: TOMLINSON
The Taylor with the facial hair was much scarier than the older, clean-shaven model, but this one's not even close. Every time you saw his face, you knew he was going to sack your quarterback. Tomlinson? Even at 32 he looks like he could be someone on their way from gym class to seventh-period calculus. And that boyish smile? The guy HAD to wear a visor on the field, because no one would have taken him seriously if he hadn't. ADVANTAGE: TAYLOR
MOST CONTROVERSIAL/EMBARRASSING EPISODES
Tomlinson didn't like the New England Patriots dancing on Qualcomm field after a playoff game. He also let loose with a public a shot when he was on his way out the door in San Diego about being used incorrectly, and dished about the New York Jets' toxic locker room. On the other hand, one could compile a list of the 100 most notorious things Taylor's done and people would still say you missed some. ADVANTAGE: TOMLINSON
Taylor made the number 56 legendary. Every linebacker in high school and college wanted to wear it. When it comes to Tomlinson... be honest, you had to think for a second to remember he wore 21. ADVANTAGE: TAYLOR
Taylor played his entire career in the top market in the world. Tomlinson spent the majority of his 3,000 miles away before realizing his best chance at winning a Super Bowl ... would come while playing in the number one market in the world. Farewell, Fish Tacos! ADVANTAGE: TAYLOR
Taylor told kids to stay away from drugs in 'The Waterboy' (oops), and collected a $1 million sack-bonus in 'Any Given Sunday.' Tomlinson did a Chunky Soup commercial. ADVANTAGE: TAYLOR
Tomlinson was a five-time Pro Bowl participant. Taylor went 10 times. Tomlinson was a four-time All-Pro. Taylor was a 10-timer, given the honor every year from 1981 to 1990. Tomlinson made the All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Taylor made the 75th anniversary All-Time NFL team. Tomlinson never made it to the Super Bowl. Taylor won it twice. Do we need to keep going? ADVANTAGE: TAYLOR
Tomlinson was a Hall of Fame running back, and the best at his position during the decade of the aughts. Taylor changed the way defense was played, and how offenses game-planned. Bill Walsh invented the West Coast Offense because he was trying to find a way to successfully block Taylor. ADVANTAGE: TAYLOR So there you have it. What looked close to start out with turned into a Taylor Torpedo of Truth. Of course, it's kind of hard for the guy who had the nickname first to lose it, especially when the guy who came after didn't have as much of an impact on the game as the one before him. Although if we had written this essay in the 1950s, the answer would have been Liz Taylor, so isn't she the real winner? And wait, Lily Tomlin came before Taylor. And so did Lee Trevino. And Lana Turner ... Jason Smith hosts NFL Fantasy Live on the NFL Network Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutfresca