Wednesday, February 2, 2011
LaDainian Tomlinson expects to be a Jet
By Rich Cimini
IRVING, Texas -- LaDainian Tomlinson said he's still heartbroken by the New York Jets' loss in the AFC Championship Game, but he has no intention of ending his legendary career on that note -- and he expects to be back with the Jets in 2011.
"I would definitely like to play, no question," Tomlinson, 31, said Wednesday night at a fundraiser for his charitable foundation. "Really and truly, I'm under contract, and I fully expect to play football with the Jets next year. Until I'm told otherwise, I just expect to be there."
Tomlinson, who turns 32 in June, is due to make $2.4 million in the final season of his contract. There has been speculation about his future because the Jets have two young running backs, Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight. General manager Mike Tannenbaum indicated last week he expects Tomlinson to be back, but he left a hint of doubt by saying "things could change."
Tomlinson believes he's wanted, based on "all indications" from the organization. Rebounding from a disappointing 2009 with the San Diego Chargers, he rushed for a team-high 914 yards and caught 51 passes in his first season with the Jets.
As optimistic as he was about his own future, Tomlinson was down on his beloved Dallas Cowboys, who fired Wade Phillips during the season and finished 6-10.
"In my opinion, I think the guys quit playing for Wade," said Tomlinson, who grew up in nearby Waco and rooted for the Cowboys. "At some point, there was a disconnect, and that happens. It absolutely happens. When guys disconnect from the head coach, they just don't want to play for him anymore. You saw when Jason Garrett took over, they responded. That told me they just quit on Wade.
"I don't know what happened. Maybe something went on privately there, but it was something that happened. [Cowboys owner/GM] Jerry Jones had to make a move, and they responded to Jerry."
This week could've been a storybook homecoming for Tomlinson, a local icon who played college ball at TCU. He's never played in a Super Bowl, and he wanted so badly to play in Cowboys Stadium.
"I'm still in a little bit of a funk," he said, alluding to the 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. "It was heartbreaking, to be honest with you. I wanted this. I know my family and my fans wanted this, to come back home ... It would've been such a dream come true."
Tomlinson lamented the brutal first half, in which the Jets fell behind 24-0.
"For us, our downfall was the way we started the game," he said. "If we start the game any better than what we did, I think we win the game."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.