Lionel James
No. 26     
Running Back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1962-05-25) May 25, 1962 (age 57)
Place of birth: Albany, Georgia
Career information
College: Auburn
NFL Draft: 1984 / Round: 5 / Pick: 118
Debuted in 1984 for the San Diego Chargers
Last played in 1988 for the San Diego Chargers
Career history
*San Diego Chargers (1984–1988)
Career highlights and awards
*San Diego Chargers 40th Anniversary Team
  • Auburn Tigers leading rusher (1981)
Stats at
Stats at
Stats at

Lionel 'Little Train' James (born May 25, 1962 in Albany, Georgia), is a former professional American football player who was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the 5th round of the 1984 NFL Draft. Undersized at 5'6" and 171 lbs., James played running back at Auburn University where he shared the backfield with Bo Jackson. James would be apart the 1983 SEC Champion and Sugar Bowl champion team. He spent his entire 5 year NFL career with the Chargers from 1984-1988. His best year as a pro came during the 1985 season when he set the then-NFL season records for receiving yards by a running back and all-purpose yardage. He also led the AFC in receptions that year.

In 1985, James set the NFL record for all purpose yards in a season with 2,535 yards. He also set the record for receiving yards by a running back with 1,027 yards [1] while also leading the AFC in receptions with 86. On November 10, 1985, he had his best day as a pro versus the Los Angeles Raiders. He gained 345 all-purpose yards including a career best 168 yards receiving and scored the winning touchdown in a 40–34 overtime victory.[1] The total yardage was second at the time only to the 373 yards by Billy Cannon in 1961. He might have broken the record in earlier game that season against the Cincinnati Bengals except for a Chargers penalty that cost him 89 yards of a 100-yard kickoff return. James finished that game with 316 yards.[2]

James record for receiving yards by a running back was broken by Marshall Faulk (1,048) in 1999,[3] and his all purpose yardage record was eclipsed in 2000 by Derrick Mason (2,690 yards).[4]

James currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife and children, who attend Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic school in Homewood, Alabama.[citation needed]

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