When last we heard from former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, he was calling out defensive end Joey Bosa for holding out while ignoring that Tomlinson himself once held out.
Tomlinson is now doing it again.
“Any football player who wants to be great, it doesn’t matter about the money,” Tomlinson told the Mark and Rich Show on XTRA 1360 in San Diego, using generalized words that could be used against anyone who ever holds out, including Tomlinson when he did. “It really doesn’t. Because if you ball out, you’re going to get paid no matter what. That’s the beautiful thing about playing this game and being a player. If you ball out, then you will get paid.”
So how can the holdout affect Tomlinson? I mean, Bosa?
“You can run the risk of alienating yourself from your teammates and also from the organization,” Tomlinson said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, the player could be scarred by this from the organization and not like the organization,’ it can be vice versa. The organization can feel like, ‘This guy will be a problem his whole entire career,’ so that could jeopardize what happens in three or four years when Joey comes up for a contract.”
Tomlinson’s rookie holdout didn’t keep him from getting a getting a big-money deal. And no team in its right mind would shun a talented, valued player on a second deal because of what should be a long-forgotten contract dispute on his first deal.
“I feel like he’s trying to figure all this out,” Tomlinson said of Bosa in 2016 (or of Tomlinson himself in 2001). “But at the end of the day he has to be the professional. This is his football life and he has to be the one to make sure that this goes the way he wants it to go, meaning his rookie year. Because that’s the only thing that’s important right now is him getting on the field and proving himself his rookie year and helping this team.”
In other words, Bosa and all holdouts (including Tomlinson in 2001) should cave.
The good news is that Tomlinson made an effort to distinguish his holdout from Bosa’s.
“When the money is guaranteed and you’re arguing about when you get paid,” Tomlinson said. “To me that’s where players start to question, ‘Man, does he really want to be on this team? Does he really want to play?'”
This statement shows that Tomlinson has little or no concept of the time value of money. If a $17 million signing bonus is earned now but a large piece of it is paid later, the player loses the chance to earn interest on the money already earned by the player but withheld — which allows the team to earn interest on the player’s money.
The overriding point continues to be that Tomlinson himself held out as a rookie, missing four weeks of camp and two preseason games. Also, while Tomlinson played for the Chargers, he didn’t call out Antonio Gates during his own 2005 holdout.
“He’s someone we need on the team, but business is business,” Tomlinson said in 2005. “He was hoping things got worked out. Hopefully things still get worked out. We obviously need him, but it is a business first and if Antonio is not here we are going to have to hold the fort down until he gets back.”
Tomlinson’s decision to attack Bosa given Tomlinson’s own holdout and Tomlinson’s failure to criticize Gates makes little sense. Applying Occam’s razor, this may simply be a case of Tomlinson saying what he thinks his current employers at NFL Media (which is owned by the league and partially owned by the Chargers) want him to say.