When LaDainian Tomlinson officially enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night, he'll take with him some fond memories of his short time in green and white.
"It was special, it really was," Tomlinson said in February while making an appearance at Jets House in New York City. "Even now when I come to town, fans still come up to me and say, 'LT, we appreciate the two years you had with the Jets.' That means the world to me."
While at SPiN New York, Tomlinson sat for an interview with Eric Allen to talk about his Hall of Fame candidacy as well as to promote his part in the movie, "God Bless the Broken Road," due out early this year.
"As it gets closer, you obviously think about it. It's surreal," Tomlinson said of entering the Hall. "I never dreamed about going into the Hall of Fame. Now that it's here, it's really amazing and mind-boggling at the same time because you're remembered forever."
After the 'Bolts, a No-BrainerLT will ascend into football's pantheon because of his prolific first nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers. But when he became an unrestricted free agent and parted ways with the Chargers after the 2009 season, he said his next landing spot was a "no-brainer." It wasn't the Packers (workout partner Aaron Rodgers suggested Tomlinson should come to Green Bay) or the Vikings.
It was the Jets.
A good reason was his relationship with Brian Schottenheimer, then the Jets' offensive coordinator and the son of his Chargers coach, Marty.
"It was the place I wanted to be in the first place," Tomlinson said. "They played the type of football I liked to play: physical, tough, running the football, wear you out for four quarters, playing great defense. That's what I was used to."
And he said he came in "with a chip" because even though a torn MCL in the 2007 AFC Divisional Round win at Indianapolis made him a virtual bystander in the title game at New England, he wanted to prove he could stay healthy and help his next team reach similar levels.
That's why, after the Jets' 2010 playoff run unfolded with eerie similarity for LT with wins at Indy and then New England, he was emotional after the Patriots win. "I've never had a feeling like that," he said. "I felt like I was redeemed."
Top Photos of LT During His Time in the Green & White
From Gridiron to Silver ScreenRedemption is a life's theme for Tomlinson, which was one reason he was intrigued when a business colleague contacted him with the "crazy" idea of making his acting debut in "Broken Road" as a pastor helping a young woman who lost all when her husband was killed in Afghanistan to regain her faith.
Being in front of the camera was no big thing for Tomlinson after his NFL heroics, and it was a role he was familiar with, having grown up a Southern Baptist in Texas. He also loved the film's message and the fact that part of the proceeds are being donated to Disabled American Veterans.
"For me, if I had a role in a movie, I'd want it to be a role that will touch people, change people's lives," he said. "I felt like this was a role that could do that."
Tomlinson will play a leading role this weekend in Canton, OH.
"I've never been to the Hall of Fame, so I can just imagine getting a chance to walk around that place, seeing all the busts and all the great legends that came before me, the shoulders that I stand on, guys like Curtis Martin, the late Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, Barry [Sanders], all those guys I grew up watching and idolizing and dreaming of just running the football like them.
"To have my bust next to theirs ... it would be the perfect script."