The San Diego Chargers announced Sunday that running back LaDainian Tomlinsonwill sign a one-day contract with the team before announcing his retirement.In nine seasons with the Chargers, Tomlinson enjoyed spoils of success. In 2006, he won the NFL MVP award after rushing for 1,815 yards andscoring 31 touchdowns, a single-season record that still stands today. He played the final two seasons of his career with the New York Jets.So where does Tomlinson rank among the NFL's all-time great running backs? How does he compare with Chicago Bear great Walter Payton?TouchdownsPLAYERRUSH TDREC TDTOTAL TDTOMLINSON14517162PAYTON11015125Tomlinson's best argument as a top-tiered running back starts with his ability to find the endzone. In comparison to Payton, the most touchdowns from scrimmage Payton ever scored in a season was 16, both in 1977 and 1979. Tomlinson, on the other hand,scored more than 16 touchdowns five different times in his career. Clearly the touchdown edge goes to Tomlinson, but it is worth noting that Payton has a one-TD advantage in the throwing department (8 to 7).Rushing yardsPLAYERRUSH YDSYDSATTYDSGMTOMLINSON13,6844.380.5PAYTON16,7264.488.0Payton vs. Tomlinson in terms of rushing yardspaints a different picture than the touchdown debate. While Tomlinson last rushed for 1,000 yards in his fourth to last season (2008), Payton rushed for more than 1,300 yards in three of his last four seasons. It was only in his final season that Payton stumbled to the finish line with 533 yards on 146 carries.Payton's 88 yards per game rank eighth all-time, but longevity should count for something, too. At age 32, Payton rushed for 1,333 yards. Tomlinson? Just 280 yards as a 32-year-old. Tomlinson held two rushing titles in his career compared to Payton's one, but Payton's 1,852 rushing yards in 1977 topped any year Tomlinson had. Edge? Sweetness.ReceivingPLAYERRECYEARYDSYEARTOMLINSON56.7406PAYTON37.8349Of the top-15 leading rushers of all-time, Tomlinson comes in as the second best receiver to Marshall Faulk. Tomlison averaged 56.7 catches and 406 yards per year in his 11 seasons. He also caught 100 passes in 2003, the only running back to reach triple-digit catches in a single season.However, trailing closely behind Tomlinson on both of those lists is Payton. In a time when passing was not nearly as much of an offensive focus as it is now, especially with running backs, Payton averaged 37.8 catches for more than 349 yards per season.It's tough to call this one, given that both running backs were some of the best receivers of their era. Call it a draw, given Payton's impressive numbers in a different era.So what do you think? Would you rather have Payton with longevity, or the touchdown machine in Tomlinson?
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