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Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007: LaTorsha Tomlinson recorded the “60 Minutes” television feature that aired Sunday night on her husband, LaDainian — otherwise known as LT.
Then she had it ready to replay when LaDainian walked through the doors of their Poway home late Sunday night from the Chargers’ overtime win against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
“We watched it together,” LT said Monday at Chargers Park. “I thought they did a great job. It showed what I’m all about, what my family is all about. How much we care about the community. How much we try to make a difference. Besides a quote-unquote great player, what people don’t see or don’t know. I thought they did a great job and I was really impressed with that.”
Well, they did have pretty good material to work with.
The venerable CBS news magazine show pictured LT handing out Thanksgiving dinners to families — as he does every year — and LT visiting hospitals, making like Santa to deliver Christmas gifts, as he annually does.
And LT, seated in the living room with his wife, saying with a laugh he probably enjoys giving out the toys more than the kids.
Ironically, the program aired on a day that Tomlinson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for the first time in his career. During some jostling with a defender on the way out of bounds, Tomlinson got in an extra stiff arm.
“I did deserve it,” said Tomlinson without offering a “Yeah, but …” case for himself.
The program also made note that Tomlinson only allowed the cameras to record portions of his grueling workout routines.
“There are certain things that are my own style,” Tomlinson explained. “I like to keep it that way. This is a competitive game and a lot of running backs are looking for tips. I’ll tell them certain stuff, but there are certain things they won’t know until I retire.”
But the program was outdated before it even aired. Billed as “60 Minute Man,” Tomlinson is actually the “60 Minutes-Plus Man.”
His overtime touchdown run of 16 yards to beat the Tennessee Titans 23-17 was the third of his career. That’s the most in the NFL.
“It’s either incredible or we’re going into overtime too much,” Tomlinson said, once again deftly sidestepping praise.
If the Chargers win their final three games, their record will be 11-5 — the Detroit game will be tough because the Tennessee game took a physical toll on the Bolts — and they will have won their third AFC West title in the last four years.
Tomlinson, the NFL MVP in 2006 with a record 31 touchdowns, is in position to lead league again in rushing touchdowns and yards.
His 12 rushing touchdowns (14 overall) lead the league and he’s third in rushing yards with 1,195. He only trails Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker by 22 yards and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson by five.
Years from now you could look back at all the numbers from the 2007 season and think it must have been a special year in San Diego.
You wouldn’t know about all the panic and grumbling that ran through San Diego when the Chargers struggled to a 1-3 start and slipped to 5-5 before riding their current three-game winning streak.
One of those reasons the Chargers kept their season together is why “60 Minutes” picked Tomlinson for a show normally reserved for politicians, kings, business tycoons and philanthropists.
There are some big-time talents in the NFL, but remember when people implored the Chargers to acquire Terrell Owens when he was available?
How would you like Owens or Chad Johnson as the dominant personality in your locker room when things were going bad?
Tomlinson kept working and told his teammates to do the same. The Chargers still have a long way to go to live up to their preseason Super Bowl predictions, but the season could have disintegrated by now without Tomlinson as their team’s locker room presence.
That didn’t escape the attention of “60 Minutes” either. When Morley Safer signed off from the segment, he pointed out the Chargers traded the draft rights to Michael Vick to the Atlanta Falcons to move down in the draft order and select Tomlinson as park of a package deal.
That’s the same Michael Vick that Monday was sentenced to 23 months in prison for funding a dogfighting ring.
The same Michael Vick whose teammates said didn’t put in the work off the field for the Falcons — let alone for his community.
Tom Shanahan is voiceofsandiego.org‘s sports columnist. He is the media coordinator for the San Diego Hall of Champions and occasionally writes features for the San Diego Chargers. You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Or send a letter to the editor.