|So who (what) ya got: LdT vs. Bruschi (Canton vs. Lombardi)? (US PRESSWIRE)|
LaDainian Tomlinson announced his retirement 11 days ago. Not long after, during an appearance on NBC SportsTalk, he was asked if he'd rather have a Super Bowl ring or a canary yellow Hall of Fame jacket -- but not both.
“Hall of Fame player without a ring, because you've got to sacrifice so much individually just to be good,” he said via PFT.com. “They draft you individually and you've got to back them up and make them right. I think at the end of the day, even though I didn't win a Super Bowl ring, I felt like I backed them up for drafting me. I backed up the San Diego Chargers for picking me with the fifth pick.”
It's a tough question, especially when posed to a sure-bet first ballot Hall of Famer roughly 24 hours after he decided to call it a career.
On Thursday, ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, made the case for the rings over the jacket. PFT.com paraphrases his argument:
Bruschi explained that induction into the Hall of Fame is determined not on any field but by 44 voters. “A Super Bowl, a championship is something you earn,” Bruschi said. “And it's something that can never be taken away. And no one can stop you from doing that.”
There is no right answer, obviously, and you can make a case for both sides. The LT defenders could point out that even the guys on the practice squad of a Super Bowl-winning team get rings (or, as NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal notes, Giants backup quarterback David Carr). Bruschi supporters, meanwhile, might extol the importance of 53 guys coming together over 19 or 20 games and accomplishing what the 31 other teams couldn't.
The fact that Tomlinson never had the pleasure of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy and Bruschi doesn't have a shot at Canton go a long way in explaining their viewpoints. We'd be interested to hear how Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would truthfully answer the question. The former, like Bruschi, is a disciple of the Belichick-ian 'team first" mantra and is a three-time champ; the latter has just one Super Bowl ring but before 2011 was one of the NFL's most consistently proficient quarterbacks.
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