LaDainian Tomlinson spent the first nine years of his career playing in San Diego, where he was a five-time Pro Bowler, a three-time first-team All-Pro and the 2006 NFL MVP. He now works for the team in Los Angeles, where he’s a special assistant to owner Alex Spanos.
“It’s a new beginning,” Tomlinson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “It’s a new generation, a fresh start. The fact that they play at the StubHub Center, all this is different, but it goes with this team and who they are now. They are the Los Angeles Chargers. And so for me, it’s a different aspect because now I work for the team. Obviously when I played for the team, it was in San Diego and what I knew was San Diego and Qualcomm Stadium and all those things. But now working for the Chargers, it’s L.A. It’s about the market in L.A. and the team playing in L.A.”
Tomlinson, 38, was not surprised that the Chargers moved to Los Angeles.
“Honestly, it’s something that I don’t want to say expected, but whenever the stadium initiative didn’t get passed, I kind of felt like this would end up being the case,” he said, “that the Chargers would end up having to move to L.A. So it’s just something that a lot of people really have to get used to, and it’s going to take some time. We understand that. It’s only been the first game, and heck, they haven’t even had the first regular-season game there yet, so it’s going to take some time.”
The Chargers lost their season-opener in Denver, 24-21, despite three touchdowns throws from Philip Rivers. Tomlinson, who played with Rivers from 2004-09, is amazed at how well Rivers, 35, has played over the years. The same can be said for 37-year-old Antonio Gates.
“I have no idea (how they do it),” Tomlinson said. “Well, playing quarterback, that’s the secret. They don’t let guys hit you anymore if you’re the quarterback, so you’re able to play a little bit longer. But Antonio Gates, he’s un-human, I guess, to be able to play this long at that position at a high level. It’s truly amazing.”
Drew Brees, meanwhile, is also playing at a high level. He and Tomlinson were teammates in San Diego from 2001-05.
“Some of the throws he made the other night were incredible,” Tomlinson said, referencing New Orleans’ 29-19 loss to Minnesota. “He put the ball on the money, he had zip on the ball – so I still see a quarterback who can play at a high level. I think Drew is totally in control of his own future, meaning he’s going to have options. If he wants to stay there, I’m sure there’s something that can be worked out. He’s the best quarterback in that franchise’s history, brought them a Super Bowl and has done tremendous things in that community. So it’s going to be fun to just wait and see what he chooses to do, but his options are open.”