As LaDainian Tomlinson delivered a rousing speech during his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, he had a much bigger theme than just football on his mind.
The former San Diego Chargers star dedicated the last six minutes of his 26-minute speech to a message of unity in a country fractured by politics, race and religion.
He began by telling the story of his great-great-great grandfather, George Tomlinson, a slave who came to America on a ship from West Africa 170 years ago. Tomlinson was the last name of his slave owner.
"On America’s team, let’s not choose to be against one another," he said. "Let’s choose to be for one another. My great-great-great grandfather had no choice. We have one. I pray we dedicate ourselves to being the best team we can be, working and living together, representing the highest ideals of mankind. Leading the way for all nations to follow."
The crowd at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday night gave Tomlinson multiple standing ovations and chanted "LT! LT!" during his speech.
He was one of seven inductees into this year's Hall of Fame class, and he delivered a speech almost as impressive as his moves as a running back during his legendary career from 2001-2011.
"My story is America's story,'' he said. "All our ancestors, unless we are American Indian, came from another country, another culture.
"Football is a microcosm of America. All races, religions, creeds are living, playing, and competing side-by-side. America is the land of opportunity. Let's not slam the door on those who may look and sound different than us. Rather, let's open it wide for those who believe themselves that anything is possible and are willing to compete and take whatever risk necessary to work hard and succeed."
Tomlinson may be done running on a football field, but his speech showed maybe he should now try a different type of running. LT in 2020!
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