Admit it, you thought there was no way LaDainian Tomlinson would ever sign another contract with the Chargers as long as A.J. Smith was the team’s General Manager.
There was more than a little bit of acrimony when the best running back in franchise history left the team after the 2009 season and nothing much seemed to have changed this offseason when Tomlinson looked to continue his career after a two-year stint with the Jets. Check to see if any pigs are gliding by your window, though, because Tomlinson’s going to sign a contract with the Chargers.
He won’t be playing, however. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported and the team has confirmed that Tomlinson is signing a one-day contract to retire as a member of the team.
The move is surprising only because Tomlinson has been adamant about his intention to play this season. There’s been no sign of interest around the league in signing him after a lackluster 2011 season in New York that featured little of the spark that made Tomlinson one of the most productive running backs in the history of the game. He could have probably hung out in hopes of landing a job if injury struck once camps open, but he turns 33 next week and it has not been a strong market for older running backs.
It is nice that the bad blood that accompanied Tomlinson’s final days in San Diego won’t get in the way of this brief reconciliation. Tomlinson’s Chargers career deserves to be celebrated and his on-field accomplishments matter significantly more than the sniping between him and Smith.
Tomlinson ranks fifth all-time in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns and he set the single-season rushing touchown record with 28 of them in 2006. He also threw seven touchdown passes and had a 100-catch season for good measure. For those and many other reasons, Tomlinson will one day have a bust celebrating his career in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.