After LaDainian Tomlinson retired as a San Diego Chargers legend, ignoring his brief stint with the New York Jets, he told the world that he had considered playing one more year in the AFC West… for the Denver Broncos and their new quarterback, Peyton Manning.
Tomlinson said that amid thoughts of retirement, he wondered about trying to play again with Denver and Manning. He must have seen a chance to make the squad and for Manning to lead the Broncos all the way. His presence would have made for a pretty interesting backfield: Peyton under center with Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno and Tomlinson behind him at running back. Tomlinson is a savvy veteran and smart enough to quickly conform to a new offense and even more unique Manning Doctrine.
His thinking can probably be traced all the way back to when he signed with the Jets after he was summarily released by the sometimes-dysfunctional Chargers: He wants a ring, maybe needs a ring to get into the Hall of Fame. He thought the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan would get him there, probably because that’s all Jets head coach Rex Ryan ever talked about back then.
Two problems: 1) Denver isn’t that close to a Super Bowl title, Manning or no Manning. 2) We’re not sure Tomlinson would have even made the final Mile High roster.
In telling the story of how he thought about going to Denver, he said that “we” talked about it. With the team? With his agent? How far did the conversation go?
One thing is certain, he didn’t work out for Denver and the Broncos never made a contract offer.
I’d have to say it was surprising that the Broncos didn’t make winning bids for former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, who signed with the Green Bay Packers, or tight end Dallas Clark, who went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tomlinson was probably never really in the running.
This is not to say Tomlinson is making up the story. Instead, maybe the truth is that he saw a glimmer of hope to finish his stellar career on a positive note but came to the realization that when it’s over, it’s over.