Inside the locker room with LT

LaDainian Tomlinson is two touchdowns shy of reaching yet another threshold - his 100th touchdown. He has 98 in his first 88 games and can hit 100 faster than any player in history by netting two over his next four games.

I know you broke Jim Brown's (14) record last weekend for the most touchdowns in a five-game stretch (15). What does that mean to you to break one of his records?

LaDainian Tomlinson: For me, it's kind of an unreal situation because when you talk about Jim Brown and what he's meant to not only me but a lot of other guys, it's kind of like a heroic figure that you have in a guy like Jim Brown. Just to be mentioned and to break his record, I mean, it's just a great accomplishment. It's one of the biggest things that later on in your life you can brag to your kids about.

As much fun as the comeback must have been Sunday in the second half at Cincinnati, do you think given where your defense is -- I mean, do you think that's a formula this team wants to rely on too much down the stretch in November and December and potentially into the playoffs, or do you think once everybody is back on defense, that will be a one-time type of occurrence?

LaDainian Tomlinson: Once everybody is back, we'll get back rolling defensively. That's not too much of our concern. We know when you have great guys out, other guys have got to step in. But at times it's just not the same. Those guys, the star players on our side, they make a lot of plays for you. So once those guys get back, I don't think it'll be too much of a concern.

Do you know enough about this Chargers team to know whether or not this is maybe the best collection, the best team that you've played on so far in your six years in San Diego?

LaDainian Tomlinson: Yes. I would say it is for the simple fact that all around, the talent that we have on both sides of the ball is phenomenal. You've got guys at a lot of positions that can truly make plays. That hasn't been the case here in the past, since I've been here.

Does it feel like a long time ago when everyone referred to you as the best player on a bad team in this league? That's kind of the arc that your early career took in San Diego.

LaDainian Tomlinson: Yeah, it seems like it was a while ago. For at least three years now, we have had other guys that can step up to make plays, Antonio Gates, Drew Brees when he was here, even Jamal Williams up front. I think that's a foregone conclusion now. We have a lot of guys that can make plays.

With all the touchdowns you've scored, is there one that stands out above the rest?

LaDainian Tomlinson: Yeah, probably my favorite one is in New England last year, just an eight-yard touchdown run. I think it exemplified the way I run, and I ended up scoring a touchdown. So that one stands out probably the most to me.

Jim Brown is pretty much ancient history to most young players today. How did you come to appreciate him or be aware of him, and can you review your meeting with him after the Browns game, or was it before the game?

LaDainian Tomlinson: Well, I admire runners because that's what I do and I think there's an art to it. There are no two runners that are alike, pretty much. Every guy has his own style. So in the course of being a young man, you look at all the different types of runners that have come before you, and some stick out more than others. You know, Jim Brown was obviously a guy that really stuck out, not only because of his size and strength, but the way he was able to move just because he is a big guy. He was able to move in and out of the hole, cutting, and it was just awesome to see him run. Then just getting a chance to meet him, it was probably the most memorable moment before a game that I've ever been a part of. He just said to me I've had a great career so far and continued success. I mentioned to him that I would like to talk to him sometime and keep in contact, and so he agreed. I didn't have much time to talk to him, but the few moments that I spent with him was obviously memorable.

You mentioned that Walter Payton is another influence on you. How did you admire his game or copy it?

LaDainian Tomlinson: He was the reason why I wanted to play running back, and so seeing him at an early age, I think I was five years old or something, and something about him that I was drawn to. Walter was able to do anything you asked him to do out on the football field. He was able to do it. So I tried to pattern my game after that the same way, saying that, you know, that's the way you play football. I'm a running back but yet still I can do anything that a coach asks me to do out on the football field.

Were you particularly attracted to the way he blocked or caught the ball or what?

LaDainian Tomlinson: Well, just the way he played the game. He played the game so unselfish. When he ran the football, you obviously knew how special he was, but even when he blocked, when he caught the football, even seeing him throwing the football, that's what made him such a special player.

You knew that when you were five years old?

LaDainian Tomlinson: Yeah, I knew it when I was five years old that I wanted to play running back, and it was because of him.

Do you remember a particular game that you saw him play?

LaDainian Tomlinson: No, it was a few because back in Texas we used to get some Chicago games. The most memorable moment is the Super Bowl when they played the New England Patriots. As a kid you're waiting for them to score a touchdown, and when they get close you jump up and down. That's the most memorable game I've seen him play.

Were you as upset that he didn't score a touchdown in that game as he was?

LaDainian Tomlinson: Yeah, of course. As a kid, as your idol, you want him to score a touchdown. It's the Super Bowl, everybody is watching the game, and I definitely wanted him to score a touchdown.


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