- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Tomlinson re-signed with the team Monday. He played for the Chargers -- becoming one of the most decorated and popular players in San Diego history -- from 2001-2009. He was cut in 2010. He spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets.
At the press conference, Tomlinson said there is no chance he will come back and marveled at never having needed surgery during his career. The press conference was attended by several former and current San Diego players. San Diego chairman Dean Spanos hinted that the Chargers may retire Tomlinson’s No. 21 jersey at some point.
Below are some quotes compiled from the Chargers about Tomlinson:
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith: “Some guys you watch play and say, ‘I wonder if he will wind up in the Hall of Fame?’ L.T. answered that question a long time ago. He is one of the greatest and most versatile running backs to ever play the game. He helped this organization return to relevancy in the NFL and gave all of us a lot of exciting moments we’ll remember forever.”
Chargers head coach Norv Turner: “I was fortunate to be with L.T. his rookie year. It was very evident that he was going to be a great player, a complete player with good fortune. He was going to have the career he had. There have been very few players in the NFL who have meant as much to their team as L.T. did during his career here. In particular, his MVP season in 2006. It would be hard to find a back who led the league in rushing and caught over 100 balls in separate seasons. It speaks volumes for his abilities and what he was capable of doing.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: “LaDainian Tomlinson represented the NFL as an incredibly exciting player and outstanding young man who believed so strongly in helping other people. LaDainian’s skill and passion for the game earned him numerous honors for his performance on the field. I was fortunate to be able to get to know L.T. and his wife LaTorsha when he was named a co-winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his tireless work in the community. His achievements, leadership, and example will continue to inspire those in the NFL and beyond long after this day. We know he will continue to be successful and look forward to supporting LaDainian, LaTorsha, and their family in the next phase of their journey.”
Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith: “I have known LaDainian since he was 13 years old; he is a superb athlete and a quality person. I am extremely honored to know that I have had a positive influence on him. What he accomplished in his career gives me great pride. LaDainian has had a tremendous impact on the league, not only as a player but also as a person with great character and it shows by the respect his peers have for him and how well known he is to the public. He accomplished many great things as a player, but I don’t know of any player recently who has left the game with as much admiration and respect from his peers as L.T. enjoys. And that might be an athlete’s most cherished accomplishment. When you know someone when they are very young, and you watch that person grow into being a man and one of the very best to ever play the game, it is inspirational for me personally. He was a pleasure to watch play football. He did it with pride and passion and he was a true professional from his very first day in the NFL.”
Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts: “First off there is no question that LaDainian is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His contributions off the field to the community of San Diego are as important as what he did on the field. What he did on the field was monumental.”
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers: “There is no doubt L.T. is going to be regarded as one of the best backs to ever play. He’s a soon-to-be Hall of Famer. I feel very fortunate to have been his teammate and played with him for six years, four seasons as the starter. I have great memories as a player on the field, in practices, on game day, in the locker room, and as a friend. It was special having played with him because I always had the best view of anybody of all his runs. Handing the ball off to him and watching him run was the best seat in the house. He had a very calming effect on me as a young quarterback. It was so comforting with him in the huddle being the type player and person he is. The only regret I have is not winning a championship while he was here. He is certainly something special as a player and as a person. What he meant to this organization and the city, it’s only fitting that he retire as a San Diego Charger.”
Chargers center Nick Hardwick: “To have blocked for L.T. was one of the real pleasures of my life. I will always remember him accelerating through, around, or over the line to wind up in the endzone hitting that ever so sweet finger roll.”
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees: “I first met L.T. in the summer of 1997 in Fort Worth, Texas. Two small-time Texas kids trying to make a name for ourselves. We were teammates on the South Texas All-Star team. Hard to believe that 15 years later we would all be celebrating his Hall of Fame NFL career and watch as the last of a rare breed of running backs retires from the game he loves. Nobody in the NFL carries the ball now the way L.T. did, nor carries the responsibility of the team on his shoulders the way this guy did. He is one of the few running backs in history that could literally take over a game, despite what might have been happening around him. L.T. gave every ounce of his talent and heart into this game, and we are all better for having had the opportunity to be around him and be a part of his storied career. I will tell my kids and my grandkids that I had the pleasure of handing that ball off to him for five years, and that I wouldn't be where I am without the confidence he helped give me as we worked through some tough times together. A true professional, a dedicated warrior, and the best teammate and friend you can find. Now if I can just figure out how to get our kids on the same little league teams!”
Former Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer (2002-06): “The performance that L.T. was able to put forth on the field during his career is truly remarkable. When you look at the history of the game, he is clearly, in my opinion, one of the handful of elite and complete running backs in the history of the National Football League. The numbers aside, he just brought a tremendous threat to every opponent. Not only did he have the ability to run the football but he also could catch it and gain yards after the catch. I think he posed considerable problems to every opponent because of his skill set, the versatility that he brought to his game. All of that pales in comparison to the quality of the young man. He is one of the finest young men I have ever been around in football or any area of my life.”
LaDainian Tomlinson has officially retired as a San Diego Charger. You can watch the entire press conference on the team’s website.Tomlinson re-signed with the team Monday.