So the moment has finally come. It shouldn't be a surprise because the clock had been ticking since 2007, but now that the moment is here it's sort of weird.
If LaDainian Tomlinson getting cut by the San Diego Chargers doesn't signify that the decade of the 00's is over I don't know what will.
For the past nine years Tomlinson has been the face of the Chargers franchise. He won the MVP for the 2006 regular season, and helped launch the careers of both Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. It's hard to argue that LaDainian Tomlinson wasn't the best halfback of the past decade.
Though it means that time has elapsed, and we're all getting older, Tomlinson's move was probably the right one for both parties. At this point in time the Chargers offensive line simply isn't good enough to support a back like Tomlinson. When the Chargers decided to go with Norv Turner in 2007 it pretty much launched an era of pass first football in San Diego, essentially kicking the player who rebuilt franchise to the curb.
But it's what the Chargers have to do. The Chargers invested so much in passing offense that the running game is there as a mere decoy for the passing attack; much like the Chargers rival Patriots and Colts offenses. Essentially the Chargers just need to add any back who can carry the ball inside the 20 and they'll be fine. In today's NFL situational backs are a dime-a-dozen and that'll be enough to suffice in San Diego.
The move is going to be tough for Tomlinson. The league has passed him by and there are probably few situations where he'd be the right fit next year. There's a chance that Tomlinson could end up back in Texas with either the Cowboys or Texans but I couldn't see him being much better there than in San Diego. Essentially, for Tomlinson to succeed he's going to have to accept being a situational back, and there is some question as to whether or not he can do that.
There is a reason that since 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson has picked up the moniker "Complainian Tomlinson." The guy is a baby. He evaporates in the big game, and is the first to open his mouth after it. Never once in his career did Tomlinson show up in the big spot, and that's what separates him from the backs like Smith, Payton, and Brown; the backs that Tomlinson will have similar stats to but never be compared to.
So as Tomlinson and the Chargers prepare to move on, this seems like it's going to be the better move for San Diego, which is a good thing for that franchise. After all, the last high profile player they let walk out the door just picked up a ring in the season that the Chargers were supposed to win one.