NFL great encourages young players to follow good role models
By Greg Bach
NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson has a message for young athletes striving to improve: “I would say to the younger kids to follow a great example and watch as much video on YouTube that you can of your role models.”
Footage of Tomlinson certainly qualifies as must-see for any young player looking for ways to excel at the running back position.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Tomlinson rushed for 13,684 yards during his career, which is fifth all-time. He also scored 163 touchdowns, which is third in NFL history behind only Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
I had a chance to ask the 2017 Hall of Fame Inductee about his youth sports experiences and how his love for the game was forged. Here’s what he had to say:
THE POWER OF PAYTON
“I fell in love with football watching the game with my dad when I was about 5 or 6 years old,” Tomlinson said. “He liked the Chicago Bears and he always found the Bears on TV. Seeing Walter Payton play I wanted to be a running back because of him.”
“I found inspiration in meeting Emmitt Smith at the age of 12,” Tomlinson said. “I had gone to the Jay Novacek football camp and that’s where I met Emmitt. It changed my life. I had a chance to meet him, talk to him and touch him and see that he was a real person.”
EXAMPLES TO EMULATE
“Find great examples that you can learn from,” Tomlinson says for youth players looking to raise their skill level. “Love the game and work at it.”
Tomlinson, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2006 when he rushed for 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
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