POWAY, Calif.—After spending the first five minutes saying his thank yous, the emotion of his career with the Chargers coming to an end overwhelmed LaDanian Tomlinson.
"It's funny 'cause I was all prepared and said I wasn't going to do this," Tomlinson said through tears streaming down his cheeks. "Sometimes emotions is what makes a person and as you guys know, I've always wore my emotions on my sleeve."
That outward emotion endeared LaDainian Tomlinson to all Chargers fans during his nine years in San Diego. Speaking at a press conference at Maderas Golf Club in Poway, L-T directed his first thank you to those fans.
"All the 21 jerseys that I used to see at Qualcomm," Tomlinson said. "When I first got here nine years ago, we started building something special. It was great to see the fans fill up that stadium and the passion that they had for the game of football and the things we were trying to do."
In front of those fans, Tomlinson set 28 team records, won two rushing titles and one mvp award. But he could not deliver a championship... his biggest disappointment.
"I gave it everything I had," Tomlinson said. "I absolutely did. I trained the right way. I went about it in the community the right way. I feel like I did everything that I possibly could to help win a championship. Sometimes things don't happen. The pieces don't fall where they are supposed to. Things happen and you don't get it done."
Tomlinson has already started the search for a new team but he wouldn't say if anyone had contacted him yet. But he did say one team is out: The Oakland Raiders.
"The Raiders are pretty set in the backfield," Tomlinson said with a smile. "But even if they weren't, I wouldn't be a Raider."
He is no longer a Charger either. In fact, for the first time in his life, he doesn't identify with any team. Which he embraces and doesn't fear.
"It's exciting because it's a challenge, it's something new," Tomlinson said. "It's something that re-energizes you and pushes you a little bit harder because you don't know. You don't know where you are going to be. But I believe I will be somewhere where they want me to play.">
The San Diego Chargers released a statement Monday explaining their reasons to release Tomlinson from their team. Two days later, he spoke to the media and fans about how he felt and his future.
"First off, thank you for coming and being patient with me, my family during tough times," Tomlinson started. "I really appreciate it."
"Great to see the fans fill up that stadium. The passion they had. To the fans, thank you so much," He felt that his fans had built something special. "I'm gonna miss that bond we had together."
Then, he went on to thank the San Diego Chargers team and organization.
Tomlinson referred to his former teammates, "When I got here, Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison were the guys I looked up to. The product you see here today, they are the reason why I am here."
After Tomlinson spoke of his family's support, he became emotional. "Sorry," he paused. "Sometimes, emotions is what makes a person. As you guys know, I've always wore my emotions on my sleeve. I thank you."
Tomlinson seemed to put some Chargers fans at ease when he declared where his future professional football career would take him. "[Raiders] are set in the backfield, but even if they weren't, I wouldn't become a Raider."