Quite frankly, the headline on this post isn’t totally fair. Like many folks, I thought Ladainian Tomlinson – the so-called “best ever” – should’ve gone out better than he did. I didn’t know what was going on as I watched it live – seconds after the Patriots not-so-surprising 24-21 victory over the favored Chargers – it looked like the talented San Diego running back was letting his anger and disappointment overwhelm his sense of class and sportsmanship. After rushing 23 times for 123 yards and two TDs (but clearly not getting the ball enough), L.T. stomped angrily into a scrum of boisterous Patriots, yelled some not-so-congratulatory words to the gathered, then stomped angrily away. He refused to shake almost anyone’s hand, including another innocent Patriot who passed moments later.
Hey, I get you’re mad, L.T.. I get you’re disappointed, knowing your team blew its dream season by caving to the best team of this era. But L.T, you shouldn’t have gone out like that. He later explained he was incensed that several Patriots were mockingly performing Charger teammate Shawne Merriman’s “Light’s Out” sack dance on or near or around a Chargers logo. “I would never, never react in that way,” Tomlinson said afterwards. “You guys know me. I’m a very classy person. … So yes, I was upset. Very upset. When you go to the middle of our field and start doing the dance Shawne Merriman is known for, to me that is disrespectful. They showed no class, absolutely no class, and maybe that comes from the head coach.”
A former teammate told L.T.: “You’re Better than that.” True. But this is why the headline isn’t fair: There was enough immature hystrionics by both teams for this to be perhaps the most classless playoff game in some time. The Patriots are very much a reflection of their coach, Bill Belichick: arrogant and unyielding. And Tom Brady has grown up. He’s no longer a boyish idol. Now, he’s the neighborhood bully who clearly doesn’t card what neighborhood he’s in. A rash of penalties and head-butting and pushin’ and shovin’ and slappin’ and pimpin’ made the fourth quarter PG-13 in the sportsmanship realm.
L.T. is taking the brunt of the headline because he stood out in the postgame madness. But there’s more than enough shame for both these teams to share.
The source of L.T.’s angst – The Merriman Sack Dance:
Gamer: Tom Brady, with issues.