LaDainian Tomlinson was rolling through all of his “thank yous” during his news conference on Wednesday in San Diego — to the fans, to the community, to veterans like Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison who guided him as a rookie, and to all the coaches, trainers, and, most importantly, his family.
Then, all of a sudden, reality seemed to hit Tomlinson hard: He’s no longer a Charger.
After about 4 minutes, an emotional L.T. couldn’t hold back the tears.
“It’s funny because I was all prepared, said I wasn’t going to do this,” said Tomlinson, wiping tears from his eyes. “Sometimes emotions is what makes a person. And as you guys know, I’ve always worn my emotions on my sleeve.”
Speaking publicly for the first time since the Chargers released him on Monday, Tomlinson, who has seen a decline in numbers while dealing with injuries the last couple of years, said he expected the inevitable to happen.
“There really wasn’t an explanation. I didn’t think one needed to be explained to me,” said Tomlinson, who had career lows in rushing yards (730) and yards per carry (3.3) last season. “There comes a time when situations — and we all know this is a tough business — when the team has to make a decision that’s best for the ball club. As athletes, we need to make the best decision for us as well.”
Tomlinson reiterated that, for him, the decision is to continue playing.
“I definitely still want to play,” he said. “I still think I have a lot to give to the game, not only the performing part of it on the field but the mental part of teaching young guys and guys that aspire to be great. I think that’s a quality that I have that can help some teams.”
Tomlinson said he hasn’t spoken with his agent, Tom Condon, about specific options, but added that he expects Condon to talk with teams at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine.
“Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long to sign with a new team,” Tomlinson said.