When LaDainian Tomlinson was looking to leave San Diego, he whittled his considerations down to considerations: the Jets and the Vikings.
And as the Jets running back worked through the positives of each program, he spoke with Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. Favre didn’t trash his old team in New York, instead the former Jet said both programs had good front offices. Now, fresh off being named the AFC offensive player of the week, Tomlinson and the Jets will face the team he might have called home.
“Physically from a couple of years ago, at this time I was still battling some injuries that I had, so physically I feel great now,” said Tomlinson, drafted by the Chargers in 2001. “I don’t have anything going on. I’m practicing at full speed and so I’m doing great.”
On Wednesday after practice, he revisited the time he was making the choice between the two programs.
He felt like in Minnesota he would ultimately be a replacement for Chester Taylor. In NY, they showed him a stack of newspaper articles claiming he was washed up, asking how could the two work together to rewrite the script. Knowing Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer from his days in San Diego, made him feel comfortable.
But Tomlinson ultimately chose New York after talking to his wife, LaTorsha, who said she had no interest in a Minnesota winter.
“My wife had a lot to do with it I’m going to be honest with you,” Tomlinson said. “’I don’t want to go to Minnesota,’ OK, Honey.”
Whatever the deciding factor, Jets coach Rex Ryan is glad Tomlinson is here. He had the veteran back speak to the offense, and he had such a good message — drawing on the wisdom of Vince Lombardi himself — that Ryan had him go down the hall and talk to the defense too.
“He’s just a great teammate,” Ryan said. ”I know one thing, he’s lifted not just the offense, but the defense as well. He’s one of those rare players who has that kind of gift.”
So far this season he has 341 yards on 56 carries and three touchdowns. He’s about halfway to last year’s total rushing yardage of 730 yards on 223 carries with the Chargers, and has upended the idea that he’d be the No. 2 option behind Shonn Greene.
“You get to a point when you’ve been in the league for a number of years, mentally you can start to be drained,” Tomlinson said. “I’m at the point where this has refreshed me being here and so mentally I feel great.”
So far, it looks like the Jets got a steal with Tomlinson and he has used the team to revitalize his career.
“It was time I needed a new challenge,” Tomlinson said.