After every game, LaDainian Tomlinson faces the media. Sunday night was the 17th game of the season for this routine.
Same thing goes for LT at Monday follow-up press gatherings at Chargers Park. And all week long after practices.
It would be human nature to go through the motions on some of those press gatherings, and it would be expected from time to time from many superstars of Tomlinson’s stature.
But just like the way he plays the game, Tomlinson never goes through the motions. He always has thoughtful answers.
The Chargers’ comeback 17-6 win over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Wild Card playoffs round Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium was another example. One of the questions Tomlinson was asked was whether he was happier for his head coach, Norv Turner, or his quarterback, Philip Rivers.
Turner is in his first year with the Chargers following the franchise’s disappointing first-round playoff losses under former coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2004 and 2006.
Rivers is in his second year as a starter and Turner says his quarterback has received unfair criticism for the team’s losses in what is now a 12-5 season with the next playoff game Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts.
It would have been easy for Tomlinson to give a cliché answer about how the Chargers play as a team and win or lose as a team and then do what he really wanted to do — get home and be with his wife.
But, as usual, Tomlinson gave thoughtful answers.
|LT jumps over the pack for a touchdown Sunday against the Titans. Photo: Sam Hodgson.|
“Man, kind of both,” Tomlinson said. “But if I had to pick one, maybe Norv a little bit more. Norv was brought here into an odd situation. It was either get us back in the playoffs and win a game in the playoffs or you’re a failure. That was kind of what he was given. With Philip, he’s just like us. He’s one of the guys. If we lose, it’s on us, not just Philip. So a little bit more for Norv.
“Norv got the raw end of the stick,” LT continued. “Early on when people started booing and yelling for Marty, that was kind of unfair to him.”
A follow up question was whether Turner was emotional in the locker room. Again, some superstars would have given a curt answer, saying that’s between the team.
“Yeah, he was a bit emotional,” Tomlinson said, “He was.”
— TOM SHANAHAN