On Saturday Night in Canton, Ohio, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct the Class of 2017, the class includes Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson who spent a short time in their careers with the New York Jets.
When New York Jets fans look back at the Pro Football Hall of Fame careers of Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson, you think back to those big plays made by them as opponents with the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers respectively. But these two Hall of Fame inductees have one thing in common: they both spent a short time in their careers as members of the New York Jets.
As they get ready to enter the Hall of Fame, let’s look back at their short stay in green.
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During the 2010 season, Tomlinson and Taylor were both members of the Jets who went 11-5 that year and were the last Jets team to reach the postseason. That season ended with a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Both players were key parts of that team for head coach Rex Ryan having played in all 16 regular season games.
Taylor signed a two-year contract prior to the 2010 season with the Jets. On Sept. 19, 2010, he sacked New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, giving him 128.5 sacks in his career, the 10th-most in NFL history. With 132.5 sacks at the end of the regular season, he was tied for eighth most sacks in a career with Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor and defensive end Leslie O’Neal.
Taylor played in his first and only conference championship game in his career. He recorded two tackles while the Jets lost the game 24–19, against the Steelers, the second consecutive Conference Championship loss for the team. He was released at the end of the season and ended his career with the Miami Dolphins before retiring.
For the first time in his career, Tomlinson entered the free-agent market following the 2009 season after the Chargers released him. Despite the fact that Tomlinson still believed that he was a number one caliber running back, he was forced to split carries and after various contract negotiations, Tomlinson signed a two-year, $5.2 million contract with the New York Jets in March of 2010.
Tomlinson chose to sign with the team because he felt more comfortable with the team’s philosophy and personnel, and he felt that he was offered the best chance to win a championship. He spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the Jets before retiring in January of 2012.
While with the Jets, Tomlinson reached a few notable career milestones …
On Oct. 31, 2010, he joined Walter Payton as the only players in NFL history to gain 13,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards receiving.
On Dec. 6, 2010, against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, Tomlinson passed Eric Dickerson for sixth on the all-time rushing list.
On Dec. 19, 2010, Tomlinson reached another milestone by passing Marcus Allen for 6th on the all-time yards from scrimmage list.
On Sept. 25, 2011in a game against the Raiders, Tomlinson caught an 18-yard touchdown pass, his 160th career touchdown, joining Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice as the only players to score 160 career touchdowns.
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On Oct. 9, 2011, against the New England Patriots Tomlinson became the 6th player in NFL history to reach 18,000 yards from scrimmage.
On Oct. 23, 2011, against his former team, the San Diego Chargers, Tomlinson became the fourth running back in NFL history to have 600 career receptions.
On Nov. 13, 2011, against the Patriots, Tomlinson passed Barry Sanders for 5th on the all-time yards from scrimmage list.
On Dec. 18, 2011, against the Eagles, Tomlinson passed Keith Byars for 3rd on the all-time career receptions list for running backs.
On Jan. 1, 2012, against the Dolphins in what was his final NFL game, Tomlinson passed Jerome Bettis for 5th on the all-time rushing yards list.
He finished the 2010 season leading the Jets in rushing with 914 yards and the first year in his entire career that he did not record double-digit TDs, as he recorded a career low of 6. He rushed for 82 yards on 16 attempts and ran for both Jets touchdowns in a 17–16 victory over the Colts in the AFC wild card playoffs.
Against the Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoffs, the Jets won 28–21 as Tomlinson rushed for 49 yards on 10 attempts and caught a touchdown. It was his seventh career postseason touchdown. His production in the 2011 season wasn’t near what he did in 2010 only scoring 3 total touchdowns.
While Tomlinson and Taylor only spent a short time in a Jets uniform at the very ends of their careers, it is important to still recognize their contributions to the franchise. It was also great to watch two of the greatest players the league has seen in the past decade at their positions play for this team.