Philip Rivers showed up to training camp with a Full Metal Jacket haircut, a new look for a new era of Chargers football. LaDainian Tomlinson is gone, and things, well, feel different.
“I don’t know how everyone feels or if they felt it,” said Rivers to Kevin Acee of the San Diego-Union Tribune. “Maybe it was a little bit of a relief. Maybe it’s a feeling
of, ‘I can do a little more without wondering what he thinks.’ ”
Acee takes pains in an excellent article not to dismiss Tomlinson’s legacy and calls the running back “a great man.” But Acee also included these lines:
* “It would be difficult to find anyone around the team who would deny
there was a darker side to LT that, due to his stature and intensity, at
times threatened to smother the Chargers,” Acee writes.
* “There was an aura about Tomlinson that he was distinctively set aside.”
The best Chargers confirm the idea, with Rivers saying Tomlinson was “touchy” on the subject of his workload.
“Sometimes you would get the sense that people felt bigger than the
team,” Antonio Gates said. “Not to say it was an issue, but we know it’s not an
issue for sure now.”
Gates, for one, appreciates Rivers’ inclusive leadership style.
“Me and LT had a wonderful relationship too. But sometimes you got the
sense of stardom status and you can only take it so far. With Philip, I
never feel that,” Gates said.
We’ll say it again: The Chargers waited one year too long to dump Tomlinson, but they should benefit from addition-by-subtraction now that they have.