Chargers fans are breathing a sigh of relief now that running back LaDainian Tomlinson has agreed to a new contract that will keep the five-time Pro Bowler in San Diego for at least three more years.
The team announced the decision late Tuesday, and Tomlinson held a press conference on Wednesday.
"It's great to be back in this room" Tomlinson said. "Obviously I want to thank the organization and Dean Spanos for me being back. It's great to be back. My heart has always been with San Diego and I'm happy to be back. I love these guys on this team and never really thought I was going to leave. I'm happy to be doing this right now. I'll open it up to any questions that you all may have."
How tough has this whole process been?
"It was kind of tough, I think more so for my family because I had to answer their questions a lot of the time. Any time something went across the screen I had to answer their questions, but I still maintained the belief that I would remain a Charger. They drafted me here. I've been here for eight years and loved every minute of it. I just couldn't see myself putting on another uniform. That Charger uniform, that 21 with the bolt on the side of my helmet, that's pretty special. You really can't replace that. I'm just happy to be putting that helmet on again."
Can you talk about your relationship with Dean Spanos and how that has evolved?
"It's just kind of happened over the years of knowing Dean and his wife and family, going out to dinner and playing golf, just hanging out a little bit and getting to know each other beyond the business part of it, as friends. Obviously I have a lot of respect for him. Relationship builds over time. That relationship is something that has built and it's been a strong one. I appreciate that friendship."
Do you feel appreciated by the Chargers after this process?
"Absolutely. It's a two-way street. We've always said that this is the part you don't like, the business part of it. Obviously A.J. (Smith) has been criticized as well as myself about some of the things that we both have gone through, but that's a part of the business. I hold no hard feelings to anyone. I respect A.J. for the job he has done, the job he's continuing to do for this team and I'm going to try to do the best job I can for this team on the field. That's the way we're going to handle it. When we win a championship, everybody is going to be happy."
Realistically, how close are the Chargers to winning a championship?
"I think we're very close. Obviously over the past two years we've been hampered a little bit by injuries. That's been the unlucky part of it. I've got to figure that it's our time. I've got to figure that this is not going to continue to happen to us where we get so close and get injured and really hurt ourselves in that way where we can't be at full strength. When we're at full strength, we're a tough team to deal with. I think everyone has seen that in the past. I'm looking forward to being at full strength with this team."