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

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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

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

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Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

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PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of MMQB.com on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

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