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L.T. on Chargers retiring his number: It's amazing

LaDainian Tomlinson, the NFL's fifth all-time leading rusher, was back in San Diego Thursday for the official announcement that the Chargers will retire his No. 21 jersey this November and elect him to the team's Hall of Fame.

When he took the podium in San Diego in front of former teammates, Chargers management, and the press, Tomlinson was visibly taken aback and said he was "lost for words."

"I will always be a San Diego Charger," he said. "I'm speechless. I don't know what to say about it. To have my number retired forever -- the fourth Charger to do that -- is amazing."

The team first announced the news on Wednesday. The formal ceremony will come at halftime of the Chargers-Chiefs*Sunday Night Football *game on November 22. 

During the Thursday press conference, Tomlinson thanked the Spanos family, which owns the Chargers, and gave special recognition to his offensive linemen. He broke into a wide grin as he remembered breaking the single-season rushing touchdown record in 2006 with 28 scores.

"I remember when the play came in, you said 'let's go get it, this is the time,'" Tomlinson said, looking at some of his former linemen who were in attendance. "I could see the look in your eyes that you wanted it just as bad as I did. We did something special. I told you at that time, when we're old, gray and fat -- we're getting there -- that this is something we'll remember."

Tomlinson joins QB Dan Fouts (14), WR Lance Alworth (19) and the late Junior Seau (55) as the only Chargers to see their jerseys taken out of circulation. Tomlinson was the last player to wear No. 21 for the team, though, as the Bolts did not reissue the number when the running back left San Diego in 2010.

Tomlinson, now an analyst for NFL Media, retired in 2012 after 11 years in the NFL. The fifth pick in the 2001 draft, the Texas Christian product played nine seasons with the Chargers and rushed for 138 touchdowns while with the team. Tomlinson's banner year was 2006, when he rushed for a league-record 28 scores, won the rushing title, and was named NFL MVP by the Associated Press. Tomlinson also won the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2006.

"Few players, if any, have meant more to this franchise than LT. He was the heart and soul of this team through one of the most successful decades in our history," Chargers chairman Dean Spanos said in Wednesday's release.

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