LaDainian Tomlinson was all smiles Wednesday. He had reason to be — the five-time Pro Bowl running back is staying in San Diego, a place where he wants to be and never really thought he would leave.
Tomlinson just wrapped up a 32-minute news conference with the media, in which he discussed a renegotiated contract that could keep him in San Diego through the 2011 season. He confirmed that both sides have agreed to the deal, but he hasn’t signed it yet.
“My heart has always been with San Diego,” Tomlinson said. “I’m happy to be back. I love the guys on this team. I never really thought I was going to leave. So happy to be doing this right now.
“I couldn’t see myself putting on another uniform. That Charger uniform, that No. 21, with the bolt on the side of my head, that’s pretty special.”
We didn’t hear a lot from Tomlinson during the sometimes private, sometimes public negotiations that had taken place since the end of the season. Tomlinson, when asked about the negotiation process, was quick to say he didn’t harbor any hard feelings toward the Chargers or believe the organization had turned its back on him.
“It’s a two-way street,” he said. “This is the part you don’t like, the business part of it. Obviously A.J. [Smith, the Chargers’ general manager] has been criticized, along with myself, about the things we’ve went though. That’s part of the business. I don’t hold any hard feelings toward anyone.”
When the questioning swung back around to his health and what he expects out of the Chargers, L.T. said he “felt great” physically and had resumed his workouts this week, including running and cutting. Tomlinson played in all 16 regular-season games last season, but he was hampered by a foot injury and then a groin injury. He said he’s now back to full-strength.
Does Tomlinson have something to prove?
“I feel like I do have to prove I can stay healthy,” he said. “I’ve always felt like I needed to prove something. When I first came into the league, I wanted to prove I could play in this league and be dominant. I know I can do that. Now, going on 30, I want to prove I can stay healthy a full season and still be that dominant player.
“For me, it’s good because I get to prove what I’m worth again. I get to prove to people. Like I said, that’s the way it’s always been for me. I’ve always enjoyed doing that. I get to do it once again.”
Here’s a link to Tomlinson’s news conference transcript on the Chargers’ official site.