LaDainian Tomlinson was one of the most iconic players in Chargers history, and as of Thursday morning, the dynamic running back known by fans simply as "L.T." is back with the organization.
Tomlinson has officially rejoined the Chargers as a Special Assistant to the team owner, where the 2017 Hall of Fame inductee will assist with the community outreach aspect of operations that made him such a beloved figure during his nine seasons in San Diego.
"I recognize that the Chargers are in a fight for L.A.," Tomlinson said during an appearance on Lunchtime with Roggin and Rodney. "The one thing I know is that, in my career, I've had to do that. When I first got to the National Football League, knowing what that meant to fight for something. Fight for the community. Fight to be respected on the team.
"At the end of the day, I've always had a great relationship with the Spanos family, and they've always been gracious and really involved in community outreach. That's something I've always been strong at. Community outreach, fan engagement. I've always had a great relationship with the fans. That’s why this makes sense."
While Tomlinson's return to the Chargers would have been a moment of joy for the fan base in years past, the Chargers relocation to Los Angeles earlier this year created an uneasy situation with fans in their former home of San Diego.
Tomlinson obviously had nothing to do with the move, and remains an active member of the San Diego community through his foundation. But with social media bringing fans closer to their favorite players than ever before, Tomlinson has felt the backlash ever since reports of him rejoining the team surfaced last month.
"I've felt a lot of [backlash], and I've heard a lot of talks about that," Tomlinson said. "I certainly sympathize with the fans there. I was a part of that community for a long time, and I’m still going to be a part of that community. That’s not going to go away.
"But as you mentioned, I'm a Charger. I have that bolt tattooed on my calf muscle for a reason. That's what I care about, is that lighting bolt. I want to see them do well wherever they are. So at the end of the day, if I'm at fault, I'm at fault for being loyal."
Although the Chargers may be facing an uphill battle as they compete with the Rams and Raiders in the fight for their share of L.A.'s NFL market share, Tomlinson references a mindset that has already translated well to the franchise's new home.
"We accept challenges. That's what we do," Tomlinson said. "It's fun to go after a challenge, and who knows how long it’s going to take. But the one thing you will see is a team that is really passionate and committed to this community."
Listen to the full interview with Tomlinson and Chargers President of Business Operations A.G. Spanos below.