LT threatening consecutive-games TD record Moore didn't know

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Oct 14, 2005

An argument can be made that LaDainian Tomlinson hasn't been overwhelmed by attention as he closes in on a 40-year-old NFL record. But compared with how Lenny Moore was treated when he set the record, Tomlinson has been the football equivalent of Brangelina and Britney's baby combined.

Of course, one reason for that might have been that even Moore didn't know he set a record by scoring a touchdown in 18 consecutive games for the Baltimore Colts in the mid-1960s. If he wasn't paying attention, why would anyone else?

"We never talked about records. I never knew until the latter part of the '60s, after I got out of the game," Moore said yesterday by phone from his Baltimore-area home. "Someone said I had a record and I said, 'When did I do that?' They said between '63 and '65.

"I said, 'Well, what is it?' They said I scored a touchdown in 18 consecutive games and I said, 'Ain't that something?' "

It must be, because what Moore did 40 years ago has not been matched. Not by Jim Brown. Not by Walter Payton. Not by Jerry Rice or Emmitt Smith or any of the other all-time greats who have played in the ensuing four decades.

That could change tomorrow.

Tomlinson has scored at least one touchdown in his past 17 games. Should he get one in tomorrow's Chargers game at Oakland, Tomlinson would join Moore in the record book and have a chance to break the mark next week in Philadelphia.

"Seventeen in a row . . . that's tough," Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal said. "It just goes to show he has a knack for it and he knows how to get to the end zone."

Tomlinson's streak began in the fourth game of 2004 against Tennessee, and there has been remarkably little suspense; only four times has he failed to score before halftime. In fact, the closest the streak came to ending was Monday's game against Pittsburgh, when he didn't reach the end zone until 4:42 remained. The only other time he needed until the fourth quarter was last year at Oakland, when he scored with 11:06 left.

Tomlinson has scored 25 TDs during his streak, one more than Moore had in his run, which began with his final three games of 1963 (he missed the Colts' final five with a concussion) and continued with all 14 in '64 (when he scored a then-record 20 TDs) and the season opener in '65. (It ended Sept. 26, 1965 against Green Bay.)

The closest Moore came to losing his streak was in the 16th game, against Detroit, when his only touchdown came on a 2-yard fumble return.

"(Colts receiver) Jimmy Orr fumbled the ball," said Moore, who retired in 1967 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975. "I wasn't the first that went after the ball. One of our guys jumped on the ball but it came out.

"That's an odd way to keep a record going. But nobody ever thought about it or mentioned it."

In a way, that has happened again this week. A Chargers spokesman said yesterday the team received no special interview requests for Tomlinson this week; he didn't even do the conference call with Bay Area reporters (Drew Brees did). In part because Tomlinson has been featured recently on CBS and ESPN, there are no big pieces planned for tomorrow's pregame shows, although representatives for both networks said Tomlinson's chase would be mentioned. (The NFL is hoping to do a national conference call next week if he has a chance to break the record.)

Then again, every San Diego media outlet attended Tomlinson's weekly informal press conference after practice Wednesday and the running back wasn't asked one question about Moore or the record.

Asked about that immediately afterward, Tomlinson said he wasn't surprised.

"Nothing really surprises me," he said, having long ago learned that he will not receive the same amount of attention as players in larger markets. Especially because he isn't the type to draw attention to himself by signing balls with Sharpies or pulling cell phones out of goalposts or giving mock CPR to the ball in the end zone.

When it was suggested he would have received far more attention had he come up with a different way to celebrate each touchdown during the streak, Tomlinson laughed.

"I never really think about, 'Well, if another player was doing it, they would pump the player up,' " he said. "If people realize it, I'll get my due respect, but if they don't, then, hey, I'll keep on going and try to get another one."

Tomlinson knows the scope of what he's trying to accomplish.

"It's hard to score touchdowns," he said. "It (the record) is definitely something that's unique. It's awesome to me. The tradition and history of the NFL is so great that anytime you're able to tie or break a record it's something to be proud about."

And yet, as Neal said, "He's an underneath-the-radar guy, but you know what? He's human. Everyone likes to be appreciated. Is he going to make any noise about it? No. But he should get way more press. This is a huge ordeal. Look at all the running backs that have played."

The man who set the standard hasn't seen a lot of Tomlinson, but what he has seen, he likes.

"The guy can take care of business," said Moore, who will be 72 next month. "I like him. Now, do I want him to break the record? No. Not now that I know about it. Not at all."

Moore – who said he hopes to watch some of the Chargers-Raiders game after attending the Browns-Ravens game in Baltimore – was laughing when he made the last comment.

"I wish him the best," Moore said. "I really do."