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LaDainian Tomlinson Retires as a San Diego Charger

Tomlinson, the NFL's 5th all-time leading rusher, will retire as a Charger

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LT Retires as a Charger

San Diego Chargers

LT holds up a San Diego Chargers jersey with team president Dean Spanos on Monday, June 18, 2012.

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LaDainian Tomlinson, one of the greatest San Diego Chargers of all time, retired as a Charger Monday.

"LT" signed a one-day contract with the Bolts, then immediately retired.

“I take the words of Junior Seau, I feel like I’m graduating,” Tomlinson said recalling the moment the late Chargers linebacker retired from football in August 2006. “I’m excited to now be a fan and watch you guys play.”

Tomlinson and Chargers President Dean Spanos signed a symbolic contract and posed for pictures with a #21 jersey at an NFL event Monday.

Tomlinson thanked coaches and teammates over the years including quarterbacks Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.

“My offensive line, I always felt like they were my best friends,” he said continuing on to thank even equipment managers as among those allowing him to perform at his best.

Tomlinson was accompanied by his mother and his wife LaTorsha and their two children Daylen, 2,  and their 9-month old daughter.

“There were many times on a tough loss that I would call my mom and she always made me feel better about the situation,” Tomlinson said.

As for his wife, LaTorsha, who he has been with since college, Tomlinson said she encouraged him while keeping the NFL MVP humble recalling how she would tell him “’You still my husband and you still got chores to do at home, you still got kids,’” he said. "All that puts it in perspective.”

Tomlinson is the NFL's 5th all-time leading rusher, and only Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith scored more touchdowns than LT.

His effect on the fans and city was tremendous.

“Fewer players have played a bigger role or meant more to this team and city than LT,” said Chargers President Dean Spanos.

Even today, after playing two years in New York trying to win that elusive championship, Chargers fans wear their #21 jerseys to Qualcomm Stadium.

“There is only one name that belongs on a #21 jersey,” Spanos said. “Of course, this will all be celebrated in due time.”

Tomlinson told NBCSanDiego last month he's had a great career, and sometimes it's just not in the cards for a player to win a Super Bowl.

"And I'm OK with that," he said. "That's fine, because when I look in the mirror I know that I've done everything possible to give myself, and my team, the best opportunity to win a championship."

Immediately following his retirement, the 5-year countdown to LT's Hall of Fame election begins, and he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. 

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