Football

There’s a story behind Tomlinson’s TCU and San Diego jersey numbers

TCU retired LaDainian Tomlinson’s No. 5 jersey in 2005.
TCU retired LaDainian Tomlinson’s No. 5 jersey in 2005. Star-Telegram

Few people know the origin behind LaDainian Tomlinson's choice of jersey number 5 at TCU and number 21 with the San Diego Chargers.

Until now.

Tomlinson was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation gala Wednesday night at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel.

He said when he went to TCU, he chose No. 5 because he was a fan of former University of Georgia star Garrison Hearst, who wore No. 5 for the Bulldogs, and it looked like a good number on a running back.

As for No. 21, Tomlinson said he liked both Barry Sanders (20) and Emmitt Smith (22) so he wanted to "squeeze somewhere in between."

Smith and Sanders are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tomlinson will be eligible in 2017.

Tomlinson will have his No. 21 jersey retired when he is inducted into the Chargers' Hall of Fame at halftime of their Nov. 22 Sunday night game against Kansas City. He will join Dan Fouts, Lance Alworth and the late Junior Seau as the only players in franchise history with their jersey retired.

TCU retired Tomlinson’s jersey in 2005.

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