For the past nine seasons, LaDainian Tomlinson not only stamped his legacy as one of the best running backs to ever play the game, but also kept the Chargers relevant nearly every year.
San Diego made the postseason five times with Tomlinson, but playoff success was fleeting. The Chargers went just 3-4 in those five trips (with no Super Bowl appearances), and Tomlinson only had 327 rushing yards in those seven games. Take out a 123-yard day against New England in 2006, and it's 204 yards in six games, or 34 per game.
Tomlinson is now a member of the Jets, and while the current Chargers players remain respectful to L.T. and his place in NFL history, some are happy he's gone.
"I don't know how everyone feels or if they felt it," said quarterback Philip Rivers to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Maybe it was a little bit of relief. Maybe it's a feeling of, 'I can do a little more without wondering what he thinks.'"
Obviously Rivers has the most to gain from Tomlinson's departure, as the already shifting focus to the passing game in the Chargers' offense really shifts into high gear this season.
But even from a personality standpoint, the Chargers now feel they can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they don't have to placate to their sometimes moody star.
"Sometimes you would get the sense that people felt bigger than the team," said tight end Antonio Gates. "Not to say it was an issue, but we know it's not an issue for sure now.
"Me and L.T. had a wonderful relationship. But sometimes you got the sense of stardom status and you can only take it so far. With Philip, I never feel that."
Rivers went so far as to say that things "got real touchy the last 18 months" as Tomlinson's role in the offense diminished.
If the same happens with the Jets, it won't be long until we hear about — and until we see its results on the field.