Tomlinson all smiles, but takes winning seriously

The smiles could be seen from the satellites orbiting the globe. And there is perhaps nothing finer than seeing a continuous grin on the face of your star running back, LaDainian Tomlinson. After the San Diego Chargers moved a step closer to the playoffs, the faces were all painted with glee.

Denver wasn't an easy foe to pass through but after beating them on Sunday to gain a two-game edge in the division, LaDainian Tomlinson was all smiles.

Tomlinson recanted several stories regarding San Diego native John Lynch on Monday, all ending with a laugh.

The running back recalled the first time he was hit by Lynch – at the Pro Bowl. He said he thought it was a game that was just supposed to be fun. "I didn't know Lynch hit like that!"

Lynch played like a man possessed on Sunday, causing two fumbles and jacking up Jesse Chatman. But for all the hard hits, the hardest to take was the loss for the Denver safety.

"They certainly made it a nice situation for themselves," Lynch said of the Bolts.

And that is why Tomlinson was beaming from ear-to-ear.

Many outsiders had wondered how he could sign a long-term deal with a team that had not had a winning record since 1995. But Monday was a day of vindication as the Chargers ensured themselves of a winning season with four games still on the docket.

The dream that Tomlinson envisioned before the season is becoming a reality. Now he wants the fans to jump on and stay. He realizes that the winning must continue but the precedent of this season could be a foreshadowing of a bright future in the land of sun.

"Hopefully we can make it where year in and year out people love to watch the Chargers," he said. "We wont have to worry about bandwagoners with a tradition of winning around here."

Before the season, his motto was the same. He placed the team above all else and stated his desire to compete and resurrect this franchise. As of week 13, Tomlinson has been true to his word with the help of his teammates.

When the year began, Tomlinson was the only recognizable face in San Diego. But now, Drew Brees, Antonio Gates, Keenan McCardell, the offensive line, Mike Scifres, Donnie Edwards and Steve Foley are all being talked about as positive impacts.

"Talent and heart that we have, it is just a commitment the guys on this team have, not only for each other but for the game," Tomlinson added. The guys that we have love to play football."

What ended up being fitting for the Pro Bowl back were three wins in a row over divisional opponents to get to the top of the heap. Similar to the game king of the hill, you have to beat the guys who will have the most impact on your success to get to the summit.

No player takes more pride in beating the so-called rivals than LT. He revels in it.

When the Chargers were in Oakland, he became one of those rare players who pumped up the crowd despite being in hostile territory. In Kansas City he exorcised the demons that had prevented him from getting in the end zone and punched it in twice for good measure.

Against Denver, Tomlinson ran for over 100 yards, passed the 1,000 yard mark for the season and scored in his nine straight game.

"I love playing against them guys," he said. It is always fun."

Though a groin injury limited his touches and effectiveness through a good portion of the season, he has willed himself to compete on a weekly basis and wouldn't have ever dreamed of pulling himself out of the backfield until the game was in hand. His 13 touchdowns tie him for third best in the league – he is doing his part to make sure the winning continues in San Diego.

"We all want to be on a winner," Tomlinson added. And no player deserves it more.


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