SAN DIEGO -- Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers needed
surgery to get his right knee through the AFC Championship Game,
and now needs a more extensive operation to repair a torn ligament
in the same knee. His rehab could last six months.
LaDainian Tomlinson has a sprained ligament in his left knee but
won't need surgery.
However, the superstar running back took a hit to his image
during Sunday's loss to the perfect New England Patriots, simply
because of the way the truth sometimes takes a beating in the way
NFL teams release news about injuries.
While confirming that he needs surgery on his torn right
anterior cruciate ligament, the quarterback revealed for the first
time that he had arthroscopic surgery to clean out the joint a week
earlier in order to play in the AFC Championship Game.
Rivers made it through Sunday's 21-12 loss to the Patriots in
freezing Foxborough, Mass., despite the damage to his knee, which
he sustained in an upset win over the Indianapolis Colts a week
Rivers, lauded by his teammates for his gutsy play, said he'd
like to have surgery as soon as possible on the torn ACL. "I'll be
ready by training camp," he said.
Pressed for more details on his earlier arthroscopic surgery,
Rivers nodded toward the training room and said: "I mean, the
guys, obviously, I know they don't talk, but the guys in there
would be able to give you the details on that."
Actually, that's part of the problem. Trainer James Collins is
not allowed to talk to the media and the team often limits the
information it releases.
"It wasn't real extensive, but I mean, really that was the only
way I would have had a chance to play by doing that on Monday,"
Rivers said. "I thought maybe I could come back in the Colts game
but it was catching. That's what we did on Monday to give me the
chance to play on Sunday."
Rivers missed most of practice last week and was listed as
doubtful on Friday's injury report.
Tomlinson missed Wednesday's practice but worked out the rest of
the week and wasn't mentioned on Friday's injury report. He hurt
his left knee against the Colts, with the team saying then it was
hyperextended, Tomlinson said after Sunday's game that he has a
sprained medial collateral ligament.
Tomlinson said he re-injured the knee when he was hit on the
first play from scrimmage against the Patriots. He carried only
twice, both in the opening drive. He caught a short screen pass the
following series before retiring to the sideline for good, with
more than 9:45 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, it was announced in the press box
that Tomlinson had a "sore knee" and that he "can return."
Tomlinson is one of the humblest players in all of pro sports.
He was the NFL's MVP in 2006 and has won two straight league
rushing titles. Yet his toughness was questioned by fans and TV
commentators alike, including former star cornerback Deion Sanders
of the NFL Network.
Sanders said he was under the impression that Tomlinson was
close to 100 percent. "I have expectations, and when you don't
meet my expectations, you open yourself for us to try to guess,"
Sanders said. "Now what's the problem? You're a big-time player.
And big-time players must play big-time games."
Sanders also said he thought Tomlinson's injury would need to
warrant a surgery "for him to get a pass on this one."
Tomlinson didn't appreciate hearing that.
"He's never been a running back and had a sprained MCL,"
Tomlinson said. "You tell me what running back has played with a
sprained MCL and been effective. You might go out there and try to
limp around and play, but it's not going to happen. I don't know
how information gets passed on, but until you talk to the source of
the problem, what's going on with me, I think it's ridiculous when
people make comments like that."
Tomlinson said he understands that teams don't like to let
opponents know what's going on, and that it might lead to players'
toughness being questioned.
"I think the funny thing to me is, all the things I've played
with through my career and haven't missed a game, now all of a
sudden I'm not tough?" he said. "You think I just wanted to sit
on the sideline and not go, in the championship game? You think,
me? Come on, man, that's ridiculous."
Tomlinson said he wasn't aware of the information that had been
announced to the media.
"Well, I don't know how they got that. I didn't tell them
that," he said.
On Sunday, Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston declined to clarify
where the optimistic update on Tomlinson's injury came from.
"There was some miscommunication on whatever happens in the
heat of the game," coach Norv Turner said Monday. "But shortly
after the first quarter, I was not of the opinion that he would
return to the game.
"I'm disappointed that anyone would think negative about L.T.,
because I know if he could have played in the game, he would
Tomlinson said he knew he was done when he didn't have his usual
explosiveness after catching the screen pass.
"If I would have played, I clearly wouldn't have been
effective," he said. "My thinking also was, a 100-percent
Michael Turner and Darren Sproles was way better than a 50-percent me. It
just didn't make sense for me to try to play."
Tomlinson said he'll probably sit out the Pro Bowl.
Rivers thinks teams should say as little as possible about
injuries, limiting information simply to what body part is hurt.