EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - AUGUST 27: LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets looks on before the game against the Washington Redskins on August 27 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Former San Diego Chargers and New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson announced that he'll retire over the weekend, prompting Peter King of Sports Illustrated to wonder where Tomlinson ranked among "versatile runners" of the last 30 years. He ended up ranking him second, behind Marshall Faulk and just ahead of Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame runner Thurman Thomas. (Darren Sproles - yeah, really - and Marcus Allen rounded out the list.)
Between Faulk, Tomlinson and Thomas, where would you rank the Bills' all-time leading rusher? And how would you rank the trio in general?
Faulk and Tomlinson, in general, blew Thomas out of the water statistically (especially as receivers), which we'll get into after the jump. Thomas' career began more than a half-decade prior to Faulk's, however, and well over a decade before Tomlinson's. How much of a curve is Thomas graded on because he was the "original" of the trio?
In the end, I'd stick with King's ranking of Thomas as a not-too-distant third behind fellow Hall of Fame member Faulk (and future Hall of Fame member Tomlinson), but flip-flop Tomlinson into the one spot with Faulk second. Faulk may have been slightly more versatile, but Tomlinson was the more productive player and maintained his versatility despite being a bona fide workhorse, between-the-tackles player.
But then, there's room for a little homerism in this debate, too.