LaDainian Tomlinson to San Diego: I didn’t sell out

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The Chargers’ lightning bolt always seemed to mean something to LaDainian Tomlinson.

This is part of what endeared him to San Diego.

He didn’t just wear it on his uniform for nine years. He had it tattooed on his left calf. He was irate in early 2007 when Patriots players reacted to a playoff win in San Diego, their celebration including stomps and dances on and around the lightning-bolt helmet at midfield. Tomlinson, usually known for his easy-going demeanor, had to be restrained.

Now, Tomlinson is asking San Diego to understand.

Months from his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, one of the most revered Chargers in franchise history recently split his audience. He accepted a position with the now-Los Angeles franchise, serving as a special assistant to owner Dean Spanos. Tomlinson appeared on a San Diego radio show Friday, addressing critics who say he “sold out” the former NFL city.

That’s so strange to me,” Tomlinson said on the Darren Smith Show of Mighty 1090. “I think people, in general, they try to pin one against the other. I don’t think that’s fair at all. For one, I’m not a person who hates. I’m not a person that can stay angry at someone. I’m quick to forgive; maybe that’s a fault of mine. I’m not the type of person to say, ‘Well, I played for the San Diego Chargers, and I’m not going to support the organization anymore.’ I don’t work like that. I’m not built like that.

“There was a time early in my career where we weren’t very good in San Diego. I had opportunities to say, ‘You know what? I don’t believe in the organization, the city. I don’t think we’re going to get a stadium. I don’t think we’re going to win. I’m going to get out of here.’ I could’ve done that, but me, being the type of person I am, I wanted to stay there because I’m loyal to a fault. I was loyal to San Diego. I was loyal to the Chargers, the organization, the Spanos family. They gave me the opportunity to come to San Diego. So how can I sit here and say, ‘Oh, I played for San Diego, but forget about the brand; forget about the Chargers?”

It is unclear what specific duties Tomlinson, 37, will perform as special assistant to Spanos.

A team statement announcing his hire stated generally he will “further develop fan engagement and community relations programs for the Los Angeles Chargers.”

“Remember: I care about the lightning bolt,” Tomlinson said to Darren Smith. “That’s what’s tattooed on my calf muscle. It’s not San Diego. It’s not L.A. It’s a lightning bolt, and that’s what I care about. There are two things you can do. You can sit on the sideline and watch and be angry, or you can be a part of the transition and try to help that organization to win. I wouldn’t feel good, myself, if the organization didn’t do well and they lost year after year. I would feel terrible. That wouldn’t make me feel good.

“I played for that franchise. How would that make me feel good? So, I decided to jump into the game with an opportunity. You know what? I’ll help. I’ll stand up. I know a lot of people are mad right now, but I’ll still help. I’ll get involved. And I know there are people that are going to be mad at me. God bless you. I respect that. You have the right to be. But I’m going to jump into the game and try to do whatever I can do to help this franchise win.”

Tomlinson, an NFL Network analyst, said that he’s already finished preparing his Hall of Fame speech.

San Diego will be “represented” in it “of course,” he said. He plans to hold a celebration in the city following his induction.

“I’m always going to have the organization’s back,” Tomlinson said, “but I love San Diego. I love the community.”

68 responses to “LaDainian Tomlinson to San Diego: I didn’t sell out

  1. I think Tomlinson is one of the best, one of the most underrated players in NFL history. I know he’s a Hall of Famer and all, but he’s in that upper echelon.

  2. Oh, and did he mention he’s classy? Welcome to the phony we all saw, San Diego. How dare another team disrespect his teams’ disrespect of them?

  3. Whiners whine. I’m sure they were whining the same tune when he signed with the Jets.

    Football is a job. He served the Chargers well in San Diego, now he’s free to take whatever other job he wants.

  4. This is similar to the feelings a lot of Browns fans had when Ozzie Newsome stayed with Art Modell after the move to Baltimore. But would anyone be criticizing Tomlinson if he had taken a job in New York or Chicago? It’s part of the business; you go where the job is. And if you have an “in” with one place of employment, you take advantage of it. It isn’t easy to swallow when you feel betrayed, but that’s life, folks. It ain’t fair.

  5. …It is unclear what specific duties Tomlinson, 37, will perform as special assistant to Spanos.

    Well, I’d say he’s on his way to being a PR for Management person. They needed someone to stand-up for the move and he volunteered. Probably needs the $$$.

  6. That’s ridiculous. It’s the same company, same organization, they just moved their headquarters. Business’ s move all the time. Can’t hate them. I get it that SD fans are upset that they are losing their franchise, but it’s not like they moved to another state . Think about every NFL team out there. The fans are all over the state. The majority of them do not live in the named city. Do you think that Lions fans only life in Detroit? Of course not. They live all over Michigan. You can’t blame a guy who worked for a company that decided to move. LT is a Charger. Will always be a charger. He’s not a San Diego. Hate the game people, not the players. In all reality, residents of SD whom are also fans of the Chargers should be more upset with their local government for having so much time to work out a stadium deal. LT didn’t move the Chargers. The city of SD basically kicked out the Chargers by not making them feel welcomed with a modern stadium. If the local government is supposed to represent the residents of their city. Obviously they didn’t do very well representing if the general feeling is that fans and residents wanted the team to stay. If they would have represented their people s wants, they would have made a deal work for a new stadium, but obviously they didn’t care enough. Typical politicians looking out for themselves instead of the people they represent.

  7. How can you stay mad at this guy? I’ve always been a LT fan. He’s always been a class act and I have always admired how he conducted himself and played the game. He’s always done what he believes In and this new venture is no different. He didn’t have to come out and defend his decision to join L.A. but he did because it was important to him to let all Chargers fans know what was on his heart and his mind. He deserves credit for that I think. Guy is a Chargers legend and deserves to be treated as one now and when dust settles and heartache ends.
    — Dolphins fan

  8. Yes you did.

    And if I ever see you in person, I will say it to your face.

    Used to be one of my all-time favorite players, and I do mean used to.

  9. I get that fans are upset. I think its BS and I don’t have any skin in the game. That being said, it’s not like the Super Sonics turning into the Thunder in the NBA. They didn’t even leave the state. It’s crappy and I hate that it happened for you guys, but it’s not like he joined a rival team or something. They’re still your Chargers.

  10. As a giant fan, I could never warm up to Tomlinson because he went by LT and we all know that there’s only one true LT. But you know what, he’s a worthy hall of famer and he’s a loyal dude worthy of the moniker. I applaud his position and how he’s handling it. Cheers LT!

  11. LaDainian sounds utterly self obsessed. Huge talent, no doubt but everyone knows this guy lacks fortitude. Many will remember him hiding under a helmet on the bench while his team got knocked out of the playoffs.

  12. One thing I could not understand. All that season, his team mate did his lights out dance on every teams logo during every away game.
    When a team shows them what that feels like, suddenly it is unthinkably dissrespectful.
    If you cannot take it, don’t dish it out, right?

    About what he is saying here. I totally agree.
    While it is sad for the fans the team they love moves, do not be upset with him for supporting his team. His employer, his fond memories, a huge part of his life is the Chargers. They just happened to play in San Diego. Very nice city but he would have the same memories, made the same money, accomplished the same things playing the sport no matter where they were based.

    Be upset with the owner if you must. I would say be upset with the city except I don’t think tax payers should pay for a rich man’s toys.
    Be upset with the NFL owners and organization for pushing for the move. But don’t expect a player to turn on his team, his memories, his vehicle out of the hood and on to a better life because they moved to what they think is a better location to sell their goods.
    Would you be upset with your friend because he drove to LA to watch a game. Would you be upset if on Sunday, he tunes into and watches a Charger game on TV? Will you stop watching their games on the tele?

    If my Patriots moved to Hartford CT like they almost did prior to building the razor in foxboro, I may have not liked the move, but they are still my team. In fact, I am not a fan of Kraft. I think his cheapness cost his team at least 2 rings. One loss to the colts in 06 when the colts went on to easily beat the bears and then the following year against the giants, but especially in 06 when Kraft would not pay for a decent WR and Brady had to throw to the likes of Reche, deer in the headlights eyes, Cauldwell. Point is, owners come and go. The team remains and what I root for.
    Now, about location. I do not attend games, so, as long as they are somewhere in New England I am ok with it. I would think as long as the chargers are in CA, their fans would be ok with it. For fans that do go to alot of games, I do feel your pain. For an occasional game, LA Isn’t too far. But for season tik holders and such, I understand.
    I would not like it if the only movie theater or some other attraction I enjoyed regularly moved hundreds of miles away. At least the ocean cannot move on you, right? Of course, with those earthquakes…….

  13. Nonsense! LT didn’t sell out SD. Their politicians and residents did! They had a wonderful opportunity to have visitors pay for the stadium with a hotel tax and foolishly, they rejected it.

    Qualcomm Stadium is a cess pool in comparison to other stadiums. Dean Spanos called their bluff~for like 15 years! If you had an opportunity to move out of a 60+ year-old trailer with plumbing problems, and into a beautiful, sparkling mansion, wouldn’t you do it? Who can blame the man?

    While I love my beloved, former city of San Diego, this one goes on the residents, and mainly the mayor and loser politicians who did absolutely NOTHING to keep the team. They slept too long, and now they should remain asleep.

    People move on to new cities and jobs every day. Stop putting these NFL players on the pedestal calling them traitors if they did the same thing you are doing! It’s their job and if the company moves, either you go, or abandon that awesome salary. That’s an easy one.

    Congrats LT! Go Chargers! Go San Diego! Welcome here to LA!

  14. By all accounts Tomlinson is a good guy, but his public persona seems so fake it’s hard to tell if he means anything he says of if he just tries to say what people want to hear.

  15. I always though the guy was a bit of a whiner during his playing days, but how is any of this his problem. Right or wrong, the Chargers moved because they didn’t get a new stadium. The reality in today’s NFL is that stadiums need to be money generating machines. And theirs wasn’t. How is any of that his fault?

  16. don’t blame LT for your city’s ineffective negotiating abilities and lack of support for the team’s need for a stadium–where was the outrage before the team split? had plenty of chances to keep them and nothing was done, even the refferandum was struck down by voters so just let it go San Diego, show some class.

  17. No need to apologize to a bunch of mouth breathers that wouldn’t buy enough tickets to keep the team.

  18. He had no right publicly bitching about Joey Bosa holding out. Chargers were playing BS with contract language, being A holes re the offset clause. Did he know Joey at all? Why does he have a right to tell current players what to do with their career? Especially his first contract. Plus LT forgot how he held out for more $$ when he played for the Chargers.

  19. Class Act. HOF. He’s not a sell out. He loves the Chargers brand and is forever endeared to them because they drafted him and he had a hall of fame career there. Some San Diego fans are just extremely butt hurt right now because of the move to LA. True Charger fans will respect his decision and continue to support this team and that lightning bolt no matter where they go as I intend to continue support my team and that shield as my team moves to Vegas. #Raidersfan. I wish this guy would have played for my team.

  20. He should get “hypocrite” tattooed on his other calf. Every time this guy opens his mouth he does nothing but prove that’s what he is. A hypocrite.

  21. He should have been more irate that the Chargers lost to the Patriots than about Patriots players giving big mouth Merriman some payback for all his yapping and sack dancing. Instead, Tomlinson picks that moment to personally attack Bill Belichick. Classy?

  22. He was always more concerned with handing out turkeys and virtue-signaling rather than winning games in January.

  23. SD should be mad at the transplants that live in that city and hate everything that is culturally SD. They root for their Mid-West/East Coast Teams and don’t care for native Californians. They move to SD (and LA) for the weather. They take our jobs, add to traffic and disrespect the native Californians. They are the ones who refused to vote for a hotel tax to build a new stadium. True illegal citizens is what I call them. Please East Coasters and Mid-Westeners, you are not welcome here anymore. Illegal Aliens are not our problem you are.

  24. Sadly, in the age of the salary cap, ultimately not all good players can stay with their preferred team if they have one, and may easily get traded or let-go even if they want to stay. The concept of loyalty was sold off in 1994 everywhere except in the hearts and minds of fanbases.

  25. LT is a dink; the guy who stabbed Norv Turner in the back, ripped his O-line in the press, never credited his teammates but always assigned blame, embarrassed himself with his sideline outbursts and whining, hypersensitivity hypersensitive press conferences, and then when his talent started to fade and he was no longer able to undermine the coaches and front office by crying to Spanos he got that stupid passive aggressive Jets tattoo and ripped the Chargers. Odds are he is crying right now.

  26. They’re moving a couple hours up the road. Jeez. It’s not like they’re going to London or Mexico City. If you love the Chargers, you’ll drive 2 hours to see them. I’m a Falcons fan. If the Falcons moved to Savannah, you think I’d just drop them?

    And give LT a break. If you have a chance to be promoted in your company but they are moving their HQ two hours away, would you be betraying the company’s previous hometown to take the job? Of course not. Frankly, the most significant contribution this guy will ever make in football already happened anyway—in San Diego.

  27. San Diego is officially the saltiest city in existence. It’s really quite pathetic how they can attack this Charger Legend and call him a traitor. Take note from Raider fans who stick with their team no matter what city they play in. Being a chargers fan living in OC I’m almost ashamed I made the drive for 18 straight years to watch the SD Chargers play. This whole process really made me think differently of most San Diegans. America’s finest city? I’m not so sure anymore.

  28. What is he supposed to do? Maybe he wants a profesionnal challenge beyond the network, try to learn the football business. Its not his fault the team moved a big 2 hours drive away so leave him alone.

  29. Some of the comments on here really miss the point. I live in the San Diego area, and I can tell you that most of the fans I’ve talked to are done with the chargers. Those of you saying, it’s the same state, don’t get how much SD fans hate L.A. fans here are saying if they went to any other city, like Vegas, they would have stayed fans, just not LA

  30. ladanian the chargers,are NOT a global brand like the cowboys,patriots,raiders,etc…also its about the city!!when I moved to san diego in 1988 I was,a houston oilers fan ,i rooted for tha chargers too because they were in my city.when the oilers left houston the chargers were who I focused on as my team.i lived in san diego for 29-years and moved back to Houston in october for work.

    spanos is keeping Ladanian around in a high profile role for when the nfl decides it in nfl’s best interest the Chargers to move back to san diego after someone ponies up money to build a stadium and gets things sorted out down there.ladanians role at that point is that he is beloved in san diego and will be the positive bridge PR wise to take hatred away from spanos to when and if the chargers up back in san diego.

    Let’s face it everyone Chargers will NEVER be accepted in LA ,even the raiders and rams last time they were there when they didnt win had bad attendance.raiders had horrible attendance at colliseum in early 90’s and they actually have a fanbase their that dwarfs anthing chargers would have.The rams have diehards and a fanbase that dwarfs anything chargers have up there as well and if they arent einning they dont draw well.

    This chargers in LA thing is a test run to first see if it works for spanos.The big reason he also has taken the team up there for now(and it hasnt been mentioned) was to make sure the raiders didnt move back into the LA market forcing them to get their deal elsewhere that ended up being vegas.Once raiders had their new home spanos would not have to worry about if it doesnt work in LA and decides to go back down to,san diego if stadium deal surfaces he doesnt have to worry anymore about raiders anymore moving back to LA.

    It will be a process over the next several years to see what the end game is for real,for now it’s the LA Chargers charade ,if raiders can move back to oakland like they did before and rams can move back to LA then the Chargers sure as hell could eventually move back to San Diego.maybe them actually going to LA for now is the fire that needed to be lit underneath peoples ass in san diego!!!!

  31. So should Steeler fans be Eagles fans? Should Raiders fans be 49ers fans? Should Dolphins fans be Buccaneer fans? Is this about teams and the cities they play and for? Owners want fans to be loyal to the team but the owners don’t have to be loyal to the communities or cities they play in. The owners in this league care about one thing and it’s money. They don’t care about fans,players, it’s about dirty money. Ho much money do they need? I Hate the NFL now and it sucks

  32. There are those of you who are commenting, “it’s only an hour up the way from San Diego, it’s not like they’re leaving the state.” What if you were a Pats fan, and the owner of your team decided to move shop to the city of New York and play in your most hated rival’s city? Would you still just say it’s up the street? Please guys, think before you speak!

  33. A few morons posting here that obviously weren’t geography majors. “They’re still in the same state, L.T. isn’t a sell-out and is a wonderful human being, blah, blah, blah.”

    Uh, depending on whether you take the I-5 or US-95 to drive from the bottom to the top of California, it’s going to take you anywhere from 12-16 hours, possibly longer. What difference does it make if they’re still playing in the same state, California is gigantic. Tomlinson is just doing what he’s done his entire career, he’s looking out for Tomlinson.

  34. My family has owned Chargers season tickets since 1966.

    As someone else mentioned, it’s the transplant’s fault that nothing gets done here.

    Geographically, yes LA is close to SD, but California is not like other states. There are more people in LA and SD than literally every other state besides NY. They are basically states in their own right.

    LA is to SD as Boston is to NYC. How do you think the Red Sox fans would react if their team moved to NY? I GUARANTEE there would be fires. It would be ridiculous.

    SD simply does not like LA sports (maybe besides some Clipper fans). We hate the dodgers. We hate(d) the raiders. It’s our direct competition. Not to mention, we hate traffic and the facade LA has, and we hate smog. We feel we are a superior city… call it what you will.

    I would still be a Charger fan if they moved to ANY city except LA. Vegas 100%.

    Every legit Charger fan I know in San Diego is no longer a fan, and there is a reason. We feel betrayed.

    We got letters from Dean Spanos offering us season tickets for double the cost in a damn soccer stadium in Carson. How are we supposed to react to that?

    Are we supposed to support a team that’s never won ANYTHING, that moved to be the red-headed stepchild of LA football in someone else’s stadium?

    I love(d) LT and I love Rivers. But I’m done with the NFL, except when I watch the Raiders beat the sh** out of the Chargers every year and laugh.

  35. I think San Diego is an awesome place. NFL really dropped the ball on this one.. Their residents stood strong and didn’t give into the demands of a billionare family. Now we are stuck with two teams in Los Angeles… lame

  36. Sorry LT , I live in Long Beach which is about 6 miles from your new Snub Hub stadium. Your article sounds scripted and straight from the Stupid Spanos play book. I am sorry I do not believe you have the bolt tattooed as a sign of loyalty with being Alex’s Spanos left nut I think it is a sign off a large check and ownership. The LA Chargers will get NO SUPPORT from me . If there was a sense of loyalty from you then I do not think you would be living in Texas and kissing ass in Los Angeles.

  37. Dear LT –
    One more thing.. Good Luck in filling the 30,000 seat stadium. There are many high schools in the area. Maybe the Chargers will give out the tickets to some students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to see a NFL game. Because that is probably all the fan base they will have in 2017.

  38. I love(d) LT and I love Rivers. But I’m done with the NFL, except when I watch the Raiders beat the sh** out of the Chargers every year and laugh.
    boo hoo snowflake.
    say it isnt so, joe.
    enough of your crying- enough of everyones crying.
    you hate the Bolts now yet you talk about supporting the raiders – who are doing the EXACT same thing!
    hypocrites shouldn’t follow football.
    and btw – the raiders have had ONE successful season in 14 years. dont count on them suddenly being a power house!

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