Tomlinson considered Broncos before retiring

It didn't come as a surprise when running back LaDainian Tomlinson decided to retire from the NFL one week ago, but just how close was No. 21 to joining Peyton Manning in Denver for one last hooray?

LaDainian Tomlinson, who announced his retirement from the NFL last week, reportedly considered signing with the Denver Broncos. Tomlinson, who retired after signing a one-day contract with the San Diego Chargers, told U-T San Diego he nearly decided to play another season -- with the AFC West-rival Broncos.

The 11-year veteran considered the move to Denver because the Broncos said future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. He played nine of his 11 seasons with the Chargers.

"The only team I really gave a thought to was the Broncos, because of Peyton," Tomlinson said Saturday. "We talked. Tom (Condon, Tomlinson's agent) talked with them ... It made me pause a little (and think), 'Was this what I really want to do?'

"I said, 'They got Peyton, they have a good defense already. They went deep in the playoffs with Tim Tebow. What are they going to do with Peyton?' I seriously thought about it."

Tomlinson said he would not have left San Diego for the New York Jets if the Chargers had won a Super Bowl after the 2009 season. The Chargers had a 13-3 record that season despite Tomlinson playing through an ankle injury. They lost in the AFC divisional playoffs.

"If we would have won the Super Bowl after nine years," he said, "I would have retired a Charger. Then I wouldn?t even have gone to New York."

He said he signed as free agent with the Jets to pursue a Super Bowl ring. It was the same reason he nearly signed with the Broncos before deciding to retire.

"That was the only reason I considered Denver," he said. "At the same time, I thought, 'How much is a Super Bowl ring really going to do for you at this point?' Because it's not with the team I really wanted to do it with."

The five-time Pro Bowl selection will step down as the best running back in the team's history. In 2006 he set NFL single-season records for most rushing touchdowns in an NFL season (28) and most touchdowns (31). He rushed 145 scores (152 overall), second to Emmitt Smith in NFL history.

The former TCU back rushed for 13,684 yards, which ranks fifth on the NFL's all-time list. He ran for 12,490 yards and 138 touchdowns with San Diego. He also threw for seven touchdowns on 12 career passes with the Chargers for a 146.9 quarterback rating.

Tomlinson also was the spark for a franchise that had gone five seasons without a winning record before his arrival in 2001. He helped the Chargers win the AFC West division five times. The only achievement Tomlinson didn't reach was a Super Bowl victory. The Chargers were 3-5 in the playoffs during his seasons in San Diego, getting to the 2007 AFC Championship Game before losing to the Patriots.

He finished his career by signing a free-agent deal with the Jets but his statistics and his role had dwindled. He rushed for 914 yards in 2010 in helping the Jets to the AFC Championship, but he gained only 280 yards last season

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