- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Former Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who returned to San Diego Monday to sign a ceremonial, one-day contract so he could retire a Charger, thanked Jets owner Woody Johnson and the organization during his televised retirement speech.
Tomlinson said he enjoyed "two great years in New York of chasing the dream, chasing that Super Bowl trophy."
The Jets will remain part of Tomlinson -- literally. The Jets-logo tattoo on his right calf, which he got soon after signing with the team, will remain. Tomlinson said he'll simply add the dates "2010-2011" to the tattoo.
The future Hall of Famer finished out his brilliant career with the Jets, who signed him after he was dumped by the Chargers after the 2009 season. The Jets had no intention of re-signing him for 2012. Tomlinson, a free agent, said he had opportunities to sign elsewhere, but he called Chargers owner Dean Spanos several weeks ago to tell him he'd like to retire as a Charger.
"I always felt in my heart I was a Charger," said Tomlinson, who remained remarkably composed at his news conference, where he appeared with his wife, two small children and mother.
"I've had five moinths to actually contemplate and think about retiring, and I knew at the end of the season, after last year, it might be a possibility that I would walk away from the game," he said. "It wasn't because I didn't want to play anymore; that wasn't the reason. It was simply time to move on."
In a haunting moment, Tomlinson quoted his former teammate, the late Junior Seau, to describe his emotions. When Seau retired (he eventually returned to football), he called it a graduation day.
"Today, I take the words of Junior Seau: I feel like I'm graduating," he said, adding that he's happy, healthy and looking forward to the rest of his life.
Asked what he'd miss most, Tomlinson said the locker-room camaraderie. Presumably, he wasn't referring to the Jets' locker room last season. The turmoil, he famously said in a TV interview after the season, was the worst he'd ever been around.