|Team president Dean Spanos (right) says Tomlinson was 'the heart and soul' of the Chargers. (AP)|
LaDainian Tomlinson retired on Monday after signing a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers, the team he spent most of his Hall-of-Fame career playing for. It wasn't an emotional press conference -- instead, like Tomlinson's game, it and effortlessly simple and enjoyable to watch knowing that he patched things up with everyone in San Diego to go out as a Charger.
"When LT called me several weeks ago and told me he wanted to retire as a Charger, I was very touched and very honored," Chargers president Dean Spanos said. "He will always be a Charger to me and I know to the fans in San Diego."
After viewing a video of his career highlights, Tomlinson delivered a short speech in which he cited his former teammate, the late Junior Seau, at the time of Seau's retirement.
"I knew at the end of the season that it may be a possibility that I walk away from the game. It wasn't because I didn't want to play anymore. It was simply time to move on. And that's how I look at it," Tomlinson said. "One thing I'll remember is when Junior Seau retired and he was up here giving his speech and the one thing that stood out to me is he said 'I'm graduating today.' That's the way I look at it. I've been playing football 20-some years. And at some point it feels like school every year where you sacrifice so much and there's so much you put on the line.
"So today I take the words of Junior Seau -- I feel like I'm graduating, I really do. I'm excited to be a fan and watch you guys play."
And whether or not you care for one-day contracts aside, it was cool to see Tomlinson with the Bolt behind him again, although Tomlinson said (without naming any teams) that he'd had opportunities to play in the NFL in 2012.
"Yes I did have opportunities to continue to play football but at the end of the day it was time for me to leave the game," Tomlinson said.
LT looked at peace with his decision, which is impressive especially considering he's leaving the game without a Super Bowl victory, the one on-field accomplishment that eluded him when he played in the NFL.
"I am OK with it," Tomlinson said. "Because I realize that everybody can't win a championship. And I understand that. The thing that I realized, I was talking to Marty Schottenheimer, he said to me, 'LT there were many days that you had, that your friends had, that your family had that were championship days.'"
That's pretty sage advice from Schottenheimer and it's accurate, too. LT might not have won a Super Bowl, but there are lots of great players who never ended up with a ring. And while it might diminish LT's career in some people's eyes, it's hard to see him as anything other than a Hall of Famer.
And, of course, a Charger.
"It's with a great deal of pleasure that I introduce the newest Charger, LaDainian Tomlinson," Spanos said after signing the commemorative contract. "A Charger now and forever."