What began as a tribute to ex-San Diego Chargers great LaDanian Tomlinson and his record 31-touchdown season in 2006 turned into a major nod to a central San Joaquin Valley sports legend.
That would be former Lemoore High and Fresno State standout Lorenzo Neal, who went on to be an NFL rarity – a fullback who became almost as celebrated as the bevy of 1,000-yard rushers for whom he paved the way into the end zone.
It played out over the weekend on Twitter, launched when the NFL feed (@NFL) posted a highlight reel of each of Tomlinson’s touchdowns from that 2006 season.
One of the common themes: Neal can be seen laying into, if not laying out, would-be tacklers on many of the plays.
That prompted former San Francisco 49ers coach-turned-NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci to give credit – beyond L.T. – where credit was due.
Neal played 17 seasons – five with the Chargers – before retiring after the 2008 season.
Tomlinson will be induced into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. And his “favorite teammate,” Neal, is the one who will present him for induction.
Many think Neal should be headed back to Canton as an inductee someday, too.
The most recent fullbacks to earn a spot in the Hall were John Henry Johnson and Larry Csonka in 1987.