With all due respect,who cares LT quit?Big Four for the Big Three

646286.jpg

With all due respect,who cares LT quit?Big Four for the Big Three

Its always a little weird when an athlete that you grew up watching retires. Even weirder when its an athlete that you also grew up hating. But such is the relationship between LaDainian Tomlinson and an entire generation of Patriots fans.

I learned of LTs retirement yesterday during the final round of the U.S. Open, as the news scrolled across NBCs bottom line Report: LaDainian Tomlinson to sign one-day contract with Chargers. Will retire at the age of 33. And to be honest, it hit me pretty hard. First of all, because its always emotional when an all-time great hangs them up. Second, because LTs only a year older than I am, and there's always a special connection with athletes around your own age.

So when I saw that LT was saying goodbye, it took a few seconds to digest: Wow. The greatest running back of my generation one of the fastest and most versatile players Ive ever seen in cleats is suddenly too old and slow to play football.

Ill never get used to that feeling. (Although sadly, Im sure I will)

Anyway, a few seconds later, I re-woke to the reality:

LaDainian Tomlinson . . . Bleh!

The problem with Tomlinson was never a matter of talent. That's to say, we didn't dislike him in New England for being "too good." Even though he's a lock for the Hall of Fame, hes got nothing on guys like Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant local villains who weve all grown to respect (as competitors) over the years. The difference is that with Tomlinson, that respect never came. Or more, it was never earned.

Knowing what you know now (and assuming guys like Brady and Pierce werent a lock to end up in Boston), wouldnt you have been comfortable building the Patriots around Manning? Or the Celtics around Bryant? Or the Red Sox around Jeter? I think so. They were all destined for greatness.

On the other hand, if you could, would you go back and build a team around LaDainian Tomlinson? Even with his otherworldly talent, is he a guy that you'd enlist to lead your team your ENTIRE team to greater heights? Was he ever obsessed, selfless or mentally tough enough to step up when it was all on the line, or be there for his teammates when they needed him most? Nope, that was never him. And hes got the rings to prove it.

And that's how I'll remember LT. One of the greatest running backs I've ever seen, but one that I was more than happy to watch from afar.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.

"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."

Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition. 

"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.