On Wednesday, Miami Dolphins legend Jason Taylor announced that Sunday, against the New York Jets, would be his final NFL game. After 15 seasons, 13 in Miami, and 139.5 sacks, Taylor is hanging up the cleats. He currently sits sixth all time on the NFL's sacks list, two behind Michael Strahan for fifth, and has one game to try to move into the top five. But, this may not be the last game for just one NFL legend. Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson hinted yesterday that this might be his last time on an NFL field as well.
"There's definitely the thought that this possibly could be because you never know how things shake out," Tomlinson said Thursday, according to the Miami Herald. "For me, it just depends on the situation. I've said that before. I would love to keep playing, but if the situation is not right, then I won't. And this possibly could be my last game.
"I've got kids, man," Tomlinson continued. "I mean, I don't know. It would be hard for me to do that. It's never been about the money for me. It really hasn't. But at some point, you have to close that chapter if it just doesn't line up. So I'm just going to wait and see what happens."
Tomlinson, who is a free agent this offseason after signing a two-year deal with the Jets in 2010, currently has 13,628 rushing yards during his 11-year career, the first nine spent with the San Diego Chargers. Tomlinson is the active leader in rushing yards, sitting sixth all time. He is 34-yards behind Jerome Bettis for fifth all time.
Unlike Taylor, who has stated unequivocally that he is retiring, Tomlison still wants to play, but realizes it might be time to move on:
"I'm open to anything," Tomlison continued. "It doesn't have to be here. It could be another place. I'm just open to playing football.
"Speaking off the top of my head, obviously, I've played this game a long time," he said. "I don't want to go to someone that's going to lose every week. That's not going to be fun.
"If it is my last game, I've enjoyed 11 years of playing football, playing a kids' game," Tomlinson said. "Two great organizations. Obviously being here the last couple of years, I've really enjoyed my time here. The fans have been great. My teammates have been great, the coaching staff. There's really nothing I can complain about. Really."
Meanwhile. Taylor had his last practice as an NFL player today. While he did his normal routine, and tried to treat the day as just another practice, his teammates wouldn't let that happen. As the team stretched, Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" played over the loud speakers. As the practice concluded, the team, led by linebackers Cameron Wake, Kevin Burnett, and Karlos Dansby, poured buckets of ice water over the defensive end turned linebacker.
"They threw buckets of ice water on him after practice, which was funny," interim Head Coach Todd Bowles told MiamiDolphins.com. "That was the linebackers behind that so they had a good time with it. Otherwise it was a normal practice. JT's a humble guy, he's not going to say too much because he doesn't want to attract attention to himself so he's going to treat it all the same."
"It'll mess me up talking about it because it's just a matter of time for all of us," said Burnett after practice. "But in all honesty he's been like a big brother to me. He's a little bit older than my big brother though so he's more like an uncle. Uncle JT."Anybody who's been around the game that long you've got to respect, even if you don't like him, which isn't the case with JT. I mean 139.5 sacks, that's sixth all-time and there aren't too many people in this game that can say they're on an all-time list in any category."
The team, meanwhile, is asking that all fans get to the stadium early on Sunday, and be in their seats by 12:45am EST, for an on-field tribute to the NFL active sacks leader. And, when the final gun sounds, and Taylor walks off the field for the last time, one more clock will start - Taylor's enshrinement in the Hall of Fame countdown.