COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Even though he took a job with the franchise to help transition the Los Angeles Chargers from San Diego to L.A., running back LaDainian Tomlinson says he’ll go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a San Diego Charger.
“I’m going in as a San Diego Charger because that’s who I played for,” Tomlinson said during a conference call with reporters this week. “And I recognize that you cannot erase the history of 56 years in San Diego.
“I do recognize that. However, I do realize that I now work for Dean Spanos and the L.A. Chargers, and so there’s no conflict there. I know who I played for, but now in my retirement I now work for the L.A. Chargers. In my mind they’re the Chargers. To me it’s always been about the lightning bolt. And that’s my thought about any conflict or whatnot.”
Tomlinson’s duties with the Chargers include heading up the organization’s ongoing work to develop a more impactful relationship with the Los Angeles community and growing the team's brand in L.A.
Tomlinson still retains his role as an analyst on the NFL Network. The TCU product will be the 309th player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in two weeks and became the 75th player selected for induction on the first ballot, voted in by attaining 80 percent approval from the 48-person selection committee.
Being inducted with Tomlinson is fellow running back Terrell Davis. The two legendary running backs work together at the NFL Network. Both played in the AFC West, with Davis plying his trade with the Denver Broncos for seven seasons, which included back-to-back Super Bowl victories.
The two also share a bond with San Diego, where Davis grew up and played high school football.
“He’s from San Diego and I played in San Diego, so we always kind of had a great connection,” Tomlinson said about Davis. “It was just so good to see him get in, because if he would have played just two or three more years he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But, because he got hurt, he had to wait a little bit.
“But all of the players knew that he was going to eventually get in because he’s truly a Hall of Famer. What he did his entire career and how dominant he was when he played the game, he just couldn’t be denied.”
Tomlinson retired from football in 2011 but still remains close to the game he loves through his jobs with the NFL Network and the Chargers.
“I played football every single year for about 24 years of my life,” Tomlinson said. “So, naturally for me, when I left the game I felt comfortable doing something in the capacity of football.
“And I’ve been fortunate to work for the NFL Network and get that side, sometimes having the urge to play. I guess you get that out when you’re able to talk about it, go to games and be around the game. So that’s helped me, as well as my role with the L.A. Chargers and being a special assistant to Dean Spanos. Just being around the game and poring my knowledge out to players, executives and our owner; it’s been honestly the best thing in my retirement.”