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News » San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-02-07


San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-02-07


San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-02-07
A truce, so it seems, has been called between Chargers general manager A.J. Smith and star running back LaDainian Tomlinson.


Smith drew the ire of Chargers fans -- and Tomlinson -- when recently mocking Tomlinson's statement on his website that he would like to remain a Charger.

There has been chatter that Tomlinson would be moved, cut or asked to restructure his contract which will count some $8 million against the salary cap next season.

But Tomlinson wanted to get the word out -- on his website -- that any decision regarding him leaving the Chargers is out of his hands.

When presented with Tomlinson's remarks, the gruff Smith repeated Tomlinson's statement, nearly word-for-word, on how he wanted to remain with the Chargers as well.

If it wasn't mocking one of the most celebrated and popular players in Chargers history, it sure came across that way.

Smith would later call Tomlinson, claiming his remarks were misinterpreted.

"He apologized for what came out and he sounded sincere," Tomlinson said, while in Tampa for the Super Bowl. "I accept his apology and there is no hard feelings. (But) I did kind of take it as him mocking me."

Smith has done much damage to his reputation -- although he seeks one in which he is the ultimate hard-ball player.

That said, Smith seemed to picked a fight with someone who has legions of fans -- and rightly so, just two seasons removed from breaking the NFL touchdown mark and being the NFL's MVP.

Smith? While building a team which has reached the playoffs three straight years, the prickly executive remains true to his nickname, "Lord of No Rings".

Tomlinson, though, is coming off his least productive season in his eight NFL years. Still, he ran for more than 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.

But he is also closing fast on age 30, which is often the time elite backs see their statistics decline at an alarming rate.

Tomlinson isn't ready to say he's on the decline. Not after toe and groin injuries derailed his season; not to mention an offensive line which had trouble run-blocking with any consistency.

"My main concern is me being healthy next year," Tomlinson said. "So I can prove that I am still an elite player in the league."

Tomlinson has said "anything is negotiable" regarding taking another look at his rich contract. While the Chargers aren't overly eager to push Tomlinson out the door, on the horizon is completing contracts with three Pro Bowlers: quarterback Philip Rivers, outside linebacker Shawne Merriman and left tackle Marcus McNeill.

"An organization makes decisions for business and what is best for them," Tomlinson said. "I'll do the exact same thing."

Tomlinson might look at another offense as being more attractive. Since Norv Turner took over for Marty Schottenheimer two years ago, the offense has transformed from a power-running attack to one more suited for Rivers' big arm.

But what's clear is the Chargers' front office -- again -- created a big mess and it has been cleaning up since.

Some speculate Smith was aiming his displeasure more at Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon, than the best back in Chargers history.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 7, 2009

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