NFL family discusses LaDainian Tomlinson's Hall of Fame career

NFL Network analysts Terrell Davis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Kurt Warner will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday along with fellow Class of 2017 members Morten Andersen, Jason Taylor, Kenny Easley and Jerry Jones.

Tomlinson joined NFL Network in 2012 after playing his first nine seasons with the Chargers and final two with the Jets. The three-time All-Pro won two rushing titles (2006 and '07) and the MVP award ('06). At the time of his retirement, he ranked fifth in career rushing yards (13,684), seventh in all-purpose yards (18,456), second in career rushing touchdowns (145) and third in total touchdowns (162).

In the months leading up to Saturday's enshrinement ceremony, notable names around the NFL, including some of Tomlinson's colleagues and former teammates and coaches, shared stories and raved of the running back's Hall of Fame career.

FIRST IMPRESSION OF LADAINIAN TOMLINSON?

Wade Phillips (Longtime NFL coach who spent three years with Tomlinson in San Diego): His dedication. When I went to San Diego [as defensive coordinator in 2014], they weren't doing real well. He was just an all-the-time kind of guy who was a leader and inspires everyone else.

Corey Liuget (NFL player: 2011-present -- all with Chargers): He's very soft-spoken, quiet. He seemed very humble and down to earth, and when I watched his film, I'm like, This guy's a beast. He's a bad guy. He's nothing like he sounds off the field. He's a pro and a guy who knows how to turn it on and off.

Steve Mariucci (NFL head coach: 1997-2005 | NFL Network analyst): I evaluated him coming out of TCU, and you could just feel that he was going to be a great player. He was the guy you wanted to draft early and hope he's your guy. Plus, I met him in the hallway at the combine. He was this bright-eyed kid, very respectful, with, "Yes, sir," and all that. I thought, Man, I'd love to have this guy on my team.

David Carr (NFL player: 2002-2012 | NFL Network analyst): I hadn't played a game yet as a freshman at Fresno State. The only time I got to play then was if we were blowing somebody out or getting blown out. In the first half, I think LT had a few touchdowns and couple hundred yards. So the first time I saw LT, he started my Fresno State career. ... I still remember the guys on my Fresno team saying, "Coach, I don't know how to tackle him." I knew he was going to be special right then. ... Then he was with San Diego, my second game of my career, and it was the same thing. It's pretty impressive that he can dominate college guys, then come to the NFL and make them look like the same Fresno State DBs -- no offense to my teammates.

Heath Evans (NFL player: 2001-2010 | NFL Network analyst): LT and I came into the league together in the 2001 draft class. The first time I met him was at the combine, then again at rookie symposium. All you have in your head are highlight-reel runs and a Heisman Trophy-type player. You expect one thing, and he was the exact opposite. He's what we know him as around the NFL Network office: quiet, soft-spoken, kind of funny when pushed and just a good all-around dude.

Brian Baldinger (NFL player: 1982-1993 | NFL Network analyst): I did the Senior Bowl one year ... and I saw one guy move and cut. It was LT. It's something that has always stayed with me. His lateral cut ... I've never seen anyone move like that -- and I played with Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson. LT just moved differently than anyone else on the field that day. That was the first time I saw him.

Chris Harris Jr. (NFL player: 2011-present): I watched LT when I was a little kid and he was at TCU. They played Tulsa, and I got to go watch LT play. He was just lightning fast, quick. That was the first time I actually realized who LT was. Then from there on, I was like, "Oh, I watched this dude when I don't even remember how old I was at the time."

Reggie Wayne (NFL player: 2001-2014 | NFL Network analyst): We were in the Senior Bowl together in Mobile, Alabama. Me playing in Miami, I didn't remember hearing about LT much throughout the year. We didn't hear about TCU much. But every time he lined up at the Senior Bowl, he dominated. And I'm like, "Who is this dude with this TCU helmet?" Everybody was like, "Man, that's LaDainian Tomlinson." He was doing it all. One-on-one, he was killing linebackers, and every time he touched the ball in practice, he ran into the end zone. He was explosive. He was your ideal running back that everybody wanted. He could do it all. He was catching out of the backfield and running routes with the receivers. I mean, he did everything. When I think of LT, I think of that Senior Bowl -- and he literally made you pick your game up. He was by far the best player that week at the Senior Bowl. He set the tone for everybody.

Melvin Gordon (NFL player: 2015-present -- all with Chargers): [Our relationship] started when I broke that record in college. He gave me a shout-out, and [it's been] going on ever since then. We did the "Game Changers" show before I got drafted. He gave a lot of running backs there his number, and he hasn't changed it. They were able to keep in contact with him, too.

Lance Moore (NFL player: 2006-2015): Freak of nature, athletically. I remember when he was in college and watching "College GameDay" or late college shows, and they'd show the running back statistics. His were always gaudy. Like, Who is this guy? Because they didn't play them on national television or anything like that. ... It was pretty cool to play against him because ordinarily, when the defense is on the field, the offense is sitting down meeting about what you saw previously. But when we were playing against the Chargers, I wanted to be up watching to see what he was going to do, obviously, praying that our defense was going to stop him. But he's a guy that people would tune in just to watch him.

Willie McGinest (NFL player: 1994-2008 | NFL Network analyst): We watched tape on him. I know playing LT, he was the first guy we pointed out. We had to stop him or slow him down. We couldn't let him get going, or he'd beat us.

Eric Kendricks (NFL player: 2015-present): Man, I remember when he would wear that dark visor. Every time he would score in those powder blues and he would do that finger roll, I wanted to be him so bad.

Ezekiel Elliott (NFL player: 2016-present): LT is one of the greatest backs to have played the game. I grew up watching LT, and he was a guy that I really enjoyed watching play. He's known for that crazy stuff, knocking guys' helmets off, so when I grew up watching him, I just learned that toughness, that tenacity that he brought to the game. That's what I wanted to bring to mine.

Jeremy Kerley (NFL player: 2011-present | Tomlinson's teammate: 1 season): I felt like I had seen a guy who had done it all on the football field. I felt like I had seen a legend. That's when I first walked into the Jets locker room and looked at him. I knew he was a guy I could relate to, being we had walked some of the same steps. (Kerley also played for TCU.)

Deion Sanders (NFL player: 1989-2000, '04-'05 | Hall of Fame Class of 2011 | NFL Network analyst): The first time I met LT was at this outlet in Florida when he was just coming out of college. I thought he was a very energetic and determined young man that had all the tools to be successful. He definitely had the size. He had the want and desire.

Terrell Davis (NFL player: 1995-2001 | Hall of Fame Class of 2017 | NFL Network analyst): I grew up a Chargers fan, so I watched him. There was a lot of talk about him being undersized, but he's bigger than people think. I watched him and my first impression was, he was pretty good. Then he kept getting better and better. At one point, you figure out you're watching someone special and know you're competing against someone for best back in the league. I remember watching tape of an opposing team, and sometimes they were playing the Chargers. You'd see LT running and think, Boy, he's something. Then later in his career, you start to think that you're watching a Hall of Famer.

Kurt Warner (NFL player: 1994, '98-2009 | Hall of Fame Class of 2017 | NFL Network analyst):This guy reminds me of Marshall Faulk. Having played with Marshall and seeing the abilities and the way he was able to do everything on the football field, that's what really jumped out at me about LT early on. Marshall was the best player I'd ever played with, because he could do so many different things. I remember watching LT warm up when we played against him. I was watching all the things he did and how smooth he was running routes, and then watching the same thing in the game. He had the ability to get outside and outrun you, the ability to run between the tackles and had the ability on fourth-and-1 to find a way to get that yard and the ability to run out of the backfield or split out wide and run routes that way.

Marcellus Wiley [to Tomlinson] (NFL player: 1997-2006 | Tomlinson's teammate: 3 seasons): Sitting on the sideline with the San Diego Chargers, me, Junior Seau -- the late, great -- and Rodney Harrison. We sittin' there, 'cause we first-team defense, and you a rookie. We're like, "Let's see what this top-five pick looks like." Boy, you got that ball on just a normal "32 dive," something up the middle, but you did a reverse, counter-clockwise, unorthodox spin move. And I ain't lyin': Everyone of us looked at each other and said, "Oh, he's special."

THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT OF LT'S CAREER?

Corey Liuget: When he broke the touchdown record in a single season, just seeing the guys, his O-linemen, his whole team ran out there on the field, showing him love and appreciation for setting that record.

Heath Evans: I'm going to be really honest. In 2007, in the AFC Championship Game, his knee was jacked up, and so was Philip Rivers'. Only Philip was able to play. We knew LT was hell on wheels, so it was a big advantage for us in winning that game. There are plenty of runs we can talk about -- red-zone screens and all of that -- but that's the most memorable moment when I think about LT. We were 17-0 at the time, and to have him not play was a big help.

Chris Harris Jr.: I never got to watch him live other than when he was in college. Me growing up, I would watch the Broncos a little bit and watch the AFC West a little bit, so I saw him break those records, like when he broke the single-season rushing touchdowns record. Teams were trying to do whatever they could to keep him from doing it, too. He ended up finding a way every time.

Lance Moore: When he broke the touchdown record. I'm a guy who loves scoring touchdowns and admire touchdown scorers. When you score as many touchdowns as he was scoring, it says a lot about not just the type of player you are, but the confidence the coaching staff has in you to give you the ball in those moments and opportunity to score those touchdowns. That says a whole lot. And obviously, I loved his touchdown celebration. That was one of the smoother and [more] subtle touchdown celebrations. The ball flip. That was pretty sweet.

Bucky Brooks (NFL player: 1994-'98 | NFL scout: 2000-'07 | NFL Network analyst): The touchdown record was probably his best moment. His consistency was unbelievable. When everyone knows the focal point of the offense and you're still able to get in the paint, it speaks volumes to how he raised his level of play. He's the best we've ever seen at that.

WHAT DIFFERENTIATES LT FROM OTHERS AT THE POSITION?

Wade Phillips: He's like all the great ones ... He's tremendously gifted as an athlete. He had great skills running with the ball. He had a knack for scoring when he was around the goal line. He could jump over 'em, move around 'em, outrun 'em -- he did all those things that not many players have ever done.

Corey Liuget: The fact that he could hit a home run from anywhere on the field when the ball was in his hand. He was an electrifying guy to watch, and whenever the football was in his hand, you knew something special was about to happen.

Ray Lewis (NFL player: 1996-2012): Jesus, what made him special? Every freaking thing. He was [the] problem of all problems. ... When you see LT's feet -- that was one thing about watching LT's feet -- once he put his feet in the ground, his lateral direction was so amazing, but so quick, how he can restart. Stop and restart. So that was the thing about what made him really hard to deal with from a linebacker's perspective, because the hole that you would take, he's already been there and already gone. And his vision was just so crazy. But once again, he was just one of those guys that would never rah-rah. You know, I used to try to get under everybody's skin, and he's just like, "Come on, Ray. Come on, Ray. Don't do that." That was probably the most words he probably ever said on the football field, in battle. But when you talking about just a person of integrity, a man of true character, he's a friend before anything else, but he's a man that I would trust my kids with.

Steve Mariucci: I remember when he came and played against us in Detroit at Ford Field. That bugger caught two screen passes over the middle and went yard. Ugh ... It was a play we practiced against but couldn't stop him or catch him. He was a good runner, but he was a better pass receiver than you would remember. The guy could do it all. He was tough, humble, a team guy. The teardrop celebration was his thing, and I'm hoping someone brings it back this year.

Heath Evans: Spatial awareness as a running back is something that can't be coached. Vision is important, but feeling everything coming from behind you, beside you and the leverage of defenders when you catch a ball out of the backfield was crazy.

Reggie Wayne: He was a matchup nightmare. I still haven't seen a linebacker that can cover him. That's what separates him from a lot of running backs. He's such a dual threat.

Brian Baldinger: The volume of touches. I don't know if anybody will ever be built like him, but there was a stretch of his career -- maybe eight straight years -- when he touched the ball around 400 times per season. Since that time, almost every single back -- Chris Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Deuce McAllister, DeMarco Murray -- who touched the ball 400 times or more, the next year they completely fell off the map. LT didn't. He just stayed consistent.

Ike Taylor (NFL player: 2003-2014 | NFL Network analyst): When LT was wearing powder blue, I remember Coach [Dick] LeBeau saying, "We have to know where No. 21 is at all times." Even though I played cornerback and didn't face him one-on-one, I had to know where he was, because he was giving it 110 percent every time he came on the field.

Chris Harris Jr.: I think it was just being able to get into the end zone. He just had a nose for it. ... He wasn't always the biggest running back, but he was very quick, smart. He always had great patience. He was very complete.

A.J. Bouye (NFL player: 2013-present): I always looked at him as a tough runner. He's explosive, but he was also a patient runner and hard to tackle. All great running backs are hard to tackle. They make guys miss and he always scored touchdowns. We all know that. We knew what he was capable of, and I always played with him in "Madden."

Bucky Brooks: He played every down in any situation and could line up in a variety of positions. He was a new-school running back that we look for today, and I think LT was the one who started to revolutionize the position.

Will Blackmon (NFL player: 2006-present): He was a true leader from the running back position, and I don't think we see that often.

Marshall Faulk (NFL player: 1994-2005 | Hall of Fame Class of 2011 | NFL Network analyst): As a running back myself, looking at LaDainian play, and I felt like we had a lot of similarities in how we played the game. ... His ability to run a football inside and break tackles and make people miss, it was just relentless. And we all wanted to have that, those moments when we leaped over the pile like the great Walter Payton did.

Jeremy Kerley: He just kind of has it. Don't get me wrong -- he works on his craft and puts a lot of effort and time into it. But he's just a guy who goes out there and does it. They say "lions don't stretch" and he's a guy who can get out there and just go.

Kurt Warner: I think the thing that differentiates so many of the greats is their ability to be on the field at any time. For some guys, that means the durability to carry the ball 35 times, game in and game out, or the need to keep a guy on the field because they can do so many different things -- pass protection or running routes on third down and so on. LT is another guy that, when you look at him, he's so small in stature that it makes you say, "How does this guy withstand the pounding and rigor of the NFL, especially when he's asked to play every single down?" That's what separates him, though. You had to prepare for him in every situation, for every single down, for an entire football game.

Antonio Gates (NFL player: 2003-present -- Tomlinson's teammate: 7 seasons): We could use him in so many different ways, which we did. We would use him in slants, we would use him in screens, up the seam. His ability to understand the game, I think that's what separated him from a lot of guys that I've played with in the past. And I was privileged, to say the least.

A PERSONAL STORY?

Philip Rivers (NFL player: 2004-present -- Tomlinson's teammate: 6 seasons): As a young player, to be around a back that special -- both running it, protecting, catching passes -- it was awesome. I always said I had the best view in the house. Some of the cuts he made, I had the best view -- right there in HD, up close.

Wade Phillips: We played Kansas City, and [the Chargers] hadn't beaten Kansas City in a while. They had the players stand up and say they wanted to beat Kansas City. He stood up and said he had never won in Kansas City, but he said, "This team has never lost in Kansas City." And we went and beat 'em, so that was pretty neat.

Heath Evans: Just today, I slapped him on the rear end and said, "Hey, this booty still has 1,500 yards in it." He's a big, thick athlete, but he was still so elusive. Sometimes you don't get guys who are multi-faceted. You get speed guys, you get shifty guys or you get power guys. He was all in one.

Brian Baldinger: The fact that he has Lorenzo Neal induct him into the Hall of Fame -- it says everything about him. He didn't pick a family member or friend or former coach. It's his fullback from most of his time in San Diego. LT was always about everybody else, whether it be the offense or the offensive line. It just shows that everybody was a part of his success.

David Carr: You see the dark shield and his appearance on the field and you think he's going to be a certain way. Then you meet him and he's the nicest guy in the world. A lot of the time, with guys who are that good, the ego outshines the person. But that's not the case. If you talk to him, I don't even know if he thinks he's good at football. It's crazy how humble and down to earth LT is.

A.J. Bouye: He's from Waco, and that's where my dad's from. I remember one time when I was a young kid, my dad took me and my cousins to the basketball gym in Waco, and LT was in there playing. I remember I was star-struck, because I'd never seen anybody from Waco that was that great. I was like, Man, he really is from Waco.

Melvin Gordon: He means everything to the Chargers. If you come by the facility, you would think it was LT's home. There's pictures of him everywhere. He's just respected so much everywhere he goes, especially in San Diego. At the facility where we're at, it's LT pictures everywhere. Everywhere. I mean, Gates has pictures and Phil has pictures, but LT has pictures everywhere. You check the records and everything is LT. You walk past those pictures every day and you think, Man, I wish this was me. They replaced some pictures with Gordon pictures. He has about 1,000 pictures up, so I think 997 won't hurt him.

Steve Smith Sr. (NFL player: 2001-2016 | NFL Network analyst): We were in an event together in New York, and we were in the same car driving somewhere. We had probably a 35-minute drive, and it was just cool talking to him. We talked everything about football, comparing coaches and offensive coordinators and players. It was almost like catching up on old times. Plus, he has a sneaky grin, almost like he knows something that you don't know.

Lance Moore: In 2008, we played against the Chargers in London. I think LT was on the injury report with a foot, ankle or a toe -- something wasn't right. The whole week, I'm thinking, If LT is hurt, we'll be good. There's not going to be a problem. We get to Wembley Stadium on Saturday, the day before the game, for a walkthrough, and the grass is long and wet and it's so slippery. I was again thinking, He's going to have a terrible time with an injury and he's trying to plant on this grass. There's no way. Then the next day, he was literally tearing us apart and making people miss. I'm thinking, This is the hurt version of him? It was scary. We ended up winning the game and it was a close game. I was in awe the entire game because that was one of the harder fields to run on, cut on, jump on, and he had absolutely no problem at all making our defense look bad.

Terrell Davis: He didn't think he was going in [to the Hall of Fame this year], which is crazy to me. You can't be too sure, and I understand his point. That's how humble LT is. He was genuinely unsure about whether he was going in, when we all knew he was a lock. He got emotional. We all saw that.

Eric Kendricks: I actually met LT, after he was voted in. During the Super Bowl, I actually met him in the lobby that morning. I had just scored a touchdown that year, and we were talking about how I did his celebration. I scored and I did the celebration. We talked about it, and then that night he was honored. It was just kind of cool to me that I just got to meet him that day. I introduced myself, and he remembered the play. I think he talked about it on TV, as well, and he critiqued it.

Anthony Lynn (NFL player: 1993, '95-'99*| Tomlinson's position coach in 2010 and '11*| Chargers head coach, 2017-present*): ** His skill set is top five in my book. But his attitude, his work ethic -- all of those go with his skill set. That's what makes him a Hall of Famer. I started coaching LaDainian in his 10th season and, uh, sometimes it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. But LaDainian came in and he was open-minded to learning new things. And it got to the point where he was just an assistant coach on the team. I was just coaching him to coach the other players, and he just relished that role and he became the leader of the team.

Kyle Shanahan*(NFL head coach, 2017-present)*: If you were around him, you never would've thought he was a big-time player. He was just always such a good guy, down to earth, very humble. Treated everyone the same and, you know, me and all my buddies would always work up there throughout high school, and he would always hang out with us, at least throughout the workouts and stuff. He was good to all of us, treated us all the same -- and [a] real fun guy to be around.

Jeremy Kerley: A couple of years ago, I saw him in the airport. Who he is -- he's that high celebrity or whatever -- but he kinda seemed to know everything about what I was going through, being with the 49ers for that first year. It felt good to know that somebody who is on that type of stage still takes the time to follow a friend.

Kurt Warner: The amazing thing about LT is his humility and how soft-spoken he is. What you realize in this game is, everybody has an ego, and most of them are big. It's part of the game. So when you're in a situation and called upon to be a leader and have so much success, and couple that with the confidence you have to have, most of these egos and personas most of these guys have are larger than life. I think the coolest thing about LT is that when you sit down and talk to him, you have no idea that he was one of the greatest running backs in the NFL. He has a great selflessness about him still to this day.

Marcellus Wiley [to Tomlinson]: Remember that day we took you to rookie dinner? Uh-huh. You got that bill, looked around ... $32,000 on your head. Hey, man. That's just the way it goes. We had to bring you into the family.

Antonio Gates: I can't remember who we were playing or what game it was, but he was so passionate about the game. I remember vividly in the locker room, his wife left a message in his locker. She was pregnant, and how emotional he was in the locker room. For a guy to still go out and play well and still be worrying about having a child, still worrying about being a father. To me, the situation spoke volumes about the kind of person he was. We were just laughing about that. I still remember that day. He was crying and wiping his tears. I was like, "Man, get yourself ready. We got a game, man."

WHAT SOLIDIFIED LT AS A HALL OF FAMER?

Wade Phillips: His production. He was consistent for a long time. His overall production, whether it was a good team or bad team, was still right at the top in yardage, touchdowns and all those things every year.

Corey Liuget: The way he carried himself as a pro, the way he worked and the numbers he put up.

Heath Evans: You need six points? Where's LT?

Brian Baldinger: At that position where so many backs get hurt or fall off, there wasn't any of that with him. ... Plus, it's just the way that he played. The LT leap for touchdowns and how he modeled it after Walter Payton. He understood the history of the game. His touchdown record is going to be like Joe DiMaggio's record for a hitting streak. I don't think anyone is going to touch it. Thirty-one touchdowns is a lot. As much as the game changes and records keep falling, that one won't be broken.

Bucky Brooks: Any time you can put the ball in the paint to that degree, it's deserving of a spot in Canton.

Willie McGinest: His consistency playing at a high level. That offense went through him, and many teams still couldn't stop him. You can always talk about numbers, but it was the way he did it. It didn't matter how many guys you had in the box or how you prepare for him -- they would find a way to give LT the ball and he always made positive yardage.

WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID HE HAVE ON THE NFL?

Wade Phillips: I think he fit in with all the great Hall of Famers that were great players but also great people, too. He's such a wonderful guy if you get to know him. He's a tremendous person, great family man and a great football player.

A.J. Bouye: I played running back when I was growing up and I tried watching him and to be like him. It was very few running backs I tried to be like, and he was one of them. He left a good impression, and I think there are going to be a lot of future running backs that look up to him, too.

Heath Evans: If you're a smart back, when you come into the league, he's what you're trying to be.

Marshall Faulk: LT and his legacy in San Diego -- I think it only grew with the Chargers moving up to Los Angeles. I just think about all the fans, all the little kids down there that wanted to wear No. 21, that wore their LaDainian Tomlinson shirts, jerseys. When I would go to Pop Warner games, watching kids doing the little flip of the football, teardrop, the way LT did. And there is one thing about him: He did everything with class, worked hard, worked his butt off to be the player that he was. ... And made sure that the responsibility of being a role model and having little kids look up to you -- it was a challenge for him and he met the challenge. There are so many kids playing football down in San Diego that are wearing No. 21 because of LaDainian.

Brian Baldinger: Total humility. He never brags about himself. It's the greatest quality a star can have -- let everybody else do the talking.

Steve Mariucci: Great player who was a great person. That's the kind of Hall of Famer that represents the NFL in the way we all expect.

Kurt Warner: His uncanny ability to do so many things coupled with such a selfless superstar is what I think of. Sometimes when guys are like that, they don't get the recognition they deserve. Obviously, his numbers and the fact that he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer speaks for itself, but sometimes he gets lost in the shuffle simply because of how humble he was. He was such a different person when he stepped out between those lines. He's a great player, but a great person.

Ike Taylor: Every blue moon, there's ONE guy who can do it all, and LT was the guy of his generation.

Lance Moore: He was a small-school guy who worked his tail off to be one of the greats of all time. I think it's kind of an ode to: It doesn't matter where you come from. If you've got the skill, the work ethic and the talent, they'll find you. And from that point on, it's a matter of what you do when your opportunity comes, and he's one of those guys who did a great job of that.

Willie McGinest: He always conducted himself the right way. He was a warrior and never a distraction for his team. He was a good leader, and he didn't do a lot of hootin' and hollerin'. He just did what he needed to do. He had some emotional speeches, but he went out there and backed up everything he said he was going to do.

Will Blackmon: He's well-respected. He's one of those guys you wish was able to get a ring, too.

Rashad Jennings (NFL player: 2009-present): He's one of the better running backs to play the game. He did it for a long time. He did it at a consistently high level. He performed no matter who was in front of him. No matter who was his receivers. And he's somebody that kind of made a staple and imprinted his skill set into the NFL.

Steve Smith Sr.: He was beloved by so many fans. The impact he had on San Diego; when he became a free agent, everybody wanted him. That's not something that everybody gets the opportunity to experience.

Deion Sanders: He did it his way. There are a lot of great backs, but LT was a little bit different, man. LT could go out there as a receiver and still be dominant. He could do anything he decided to do. He had a story on the tip of his tongue or in the back of his mind that he derived from, as well. He wasn't going back. He was determined to make it better for his whole family for generations to come.

Terrell Davis: When we all grow up, there's a back or two that we say we want to be like. He was that video-game back. People wanted to have LT-like skills because he had it all. He made it seem so easy, which I know it wasn't, but this guy was a constant pro. The check marks go on and on.

Tyler Horka, Gregg Rosenthal and Anthony Smith contributed to the reporting for this piece.

Follow Brooke Cersosimo on Twitter @BCersosimo.

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