In a radio interview Monday, Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson made three things perfectly clear (everything else was up for interpretation):
- One, he wasn’t happy playing for the Chargers last season.
- Two, he wants to return to San Diego, the place he has called home since being drafted in 2001.
- Three, if he does return to the Chargers, it won’t come at a reduced rate.
“It’s never been about the money,” Tomlinson said on 1090-AM in San Diego. “I love the game of football. It’s all about being happy. Being happy and enjoying playing. That’s the most important part to me. Also being happy and chasing that Super Bowl.”
Changes in offensive philosophy, namely the reduction of running plays called by coach Norv Turner to emphasize the passing game, made last season frustrating for Tomlinson, who rushed for 730 yards on 223 carries, the least productive season of his career. Previously, he had never rushed for fewer than 1,100 yards.
Tomlinson is still under contract with the Chargers for another two years, so it would take a trade (a distinct possibility) or being waived to alter his whereabouts in 2010. A year ago, he agreed to restructure the final three years of his deal and take a pay cut. He says he won’t take another in order to stay with the Chargers.
Tomlinson, who believes he has a 1,500-yard season still left in him, was asked about where he thought he’d be next season.
“I’m not really sure,” he said. “I can see a lot of things. … I just kind of leave it open. … I spent a lot of years here and still enjoy football a lot and enjoy being around the guys in the locker room.
“I want a championship,” he added, “and I’m going to chase it.”
Only question now is, will it be in San Diego?