Nine happy years but no Super Bowl while Tomlinson played for Chargers

Oct 22 2011 - 5:36pm

FLORHAM PARK, Fla. -- LaDainian Tomlinson used to think he would retire as a San Diego Charger.

And he still might do so, albeit ceremonially. But right now, he's a Jet, and he isn't concerned about trying to send a message Sunday to his former team.

When asked Thursday what is going through his mind about San Diego, Tomlinson responded, "Get a win, basically. Obviously, it's a big game for us. It's my former team, but at the same time my focus is here. We're trying to get a win and this is a pretty good team we're playing. So I don't look at it like trying to get even or whatever it may be.

"I'm not a guy who holds grudges or tries to prove anybody wrong," he said. "I don't have time for that. ... I had a great time there, a great nine years, and I won't make it more than what it is."

But considering the kind of competitor the 32-year-old Tomlinson still is, Sunday has to be more than just another game. After all, the Chargers released him in February 2010 after by far the worst season in his illustrious career. Only Minnesota and the Jets showed interest in him afterward, with the Jets signing him to a two-year deal less than a month later.

"I'm sure it's going to be so special for him," said coach Rex Ryan, who intends to start Tomlinson at running back for the first time this season, although he indicated that will be mostly for ceremonial reasons.

"I think we'll probably start the game with him on offense or defense," Ryan joked.

"This will be special for him," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said.

But Schottenheimer believes that once the game starts, "he'll be business as usual, going out making plays and trying to contribute in any way he can, but his heart will be racing a little bit, I'm sure."

"I'm not going to get into trying to show them anything," Tomlinson said. "I want to play well for this team, make plays for this team, and just do the best that I can."

Tomlinson, of course, was upset when he was released after nine seasons in San Diego, but said Thursday, "There's nothing I would change about it. As far as me being emotional (after being released), it wasn't leaving (the team), but leaving a community, moving my family. My wife was pregnant (with their first child) at the time ... and all that built up the emotions.

"It had nothing to do with ill feelings," he said, "toward anybody in that locker room or anybody in that organization."

When it was suggested that someday he might retire, ceremonially, as a Charger, he replied, "It's possible. I don't hold any bones toward that organization."

He left a legacy there, even though the perennial contenders never got to the Super Bowl on his watch.

"The one thing I've always told LT," quarterback Philip Rivers said on a conference call, "(is that) I hated we didn't win a championship when he was here because, obviously, what he meant to this organization and the player he was was unmatched."

"It was a great place to play," said Tomlinson, who embraced the community there. "I think it gave me the opportunity to grow into the man I was going to become."

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