LaDainian Tomlinson speculates on what’s next for Philip Rivers and how he would have liked playing with Lamar Jackson in the plus-one offense.
Pro Football Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson feels the NFL is in a good place. He sees three running backs that remind himself of the things he used to do as a member of the then-San Diego Chargers: Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. He also believes Philip Rivers can still play and Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens are the best team in the football.
Tomlinson spoke with FanSided on the behalf of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes’ Mission Tiger and the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation ahead of the 2019 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, a game he once starred in as Heisman Trophy finalist for the TCU Horned Frogs.
“What we’re doing is we’re blessing all the middle schools here in El Paso with this Sports Matter grant,” said Tomlinson. “I’m sure you’re aware of the funding that’s being cut in schools it seems every single day…and this Sports Matter grant has given $500,000 to 27,000 kinds here in El Paso.”
Tomlinson knows that kids are the future and that will play a big part in his former Chargers teammate Rivers’ decision to play football beyond 2019. Rivers’ first six years in the league overlapped with Tomlinson’s prime as an NFL MVP running back in San Diego.
“I know he enjoys coaching,” said Tomlinson on his former Chargers quarterback. “He always said he wants to be a high school coach. And I really believe as his kids get older, his son Gunner, he’s about that age where he’s about to enter junior high school maybe. So I know that has to be weighing on him because I know he wants to be there, but I do believe he can still play.
“I believe the Chargers will try to sign him to a one-year deal, maybe a two-year deal. I don’t believe this personally, I don’t know this for sure, but I don’t believe that Philip wants to play anywhere else. So if he doesn’t play, I do believe he’ll go back to coaching high school football and it’s quite possible he goes back home to do that.”
So Tomlinson is suggesting that Rivers will play for the Chargers or nobody. He may opt to stay on the West Coast and coach his son, or the whole Rivers Family may move back to his native North Alabama and he’ll begin his high school coaching career there. Either way, it doesn’t seem Rivers is likely to don another NFL uniform besides The Bolts’ in his illustrious Hall of Fame career.
While Tomlinson is really fond of Barkley’s lateral quickness and his ability to jump, he’s not so sure he would have loved playing in Baltimore’s plus-one offense with Jackson, even though he believes the Ravens “are the most complete team in football right now.”
On hypothetically lining up in place of Mark Ingram Jr. in the Ravens backfield next to Jackson, Tomlinson would offer this, “It would have been fun, but at the same time, I might be mad at Lamar a little bit because he’s taking some of my carries…I’m sure I averaged over 20 carries a game in my career, but with Lamar, he’s going to take some of those carries.”
“So as a runner, I don’t know how I feel about that. He’s a great teammate, but at the same time, you want to be able to run the football as well. And I’m always thinking, you know what, we need this guy so much. We don’t need him to get hurt by running the football. So that’s always with me in the back of my mind and I’m sure the coaches think about the same thing.”
None of this is to say that Tomlinson isn’t impressed with what the Ravens are doing this year. “They’re playing complementary football,” said Tomlinson. “Their defense is playing outstanding We know what they are on offense, but I think in order to win consistently and in the playoffs, their defense has to be able to stop people.”
It is on that side of the ball where Tomlinson thinks the Ravens have made the most strides as a team this year. But if there is one matchup that could thwart Baltimore’s chances of reaching Super Bowl LIV, it would be the Kansas City Chiefs. He wonders if the Ravens offense has what it takes to keep up with Patrick Mahomes, especially if they have to play on the road in Arrowhead.
LaDanian Tomlinson spoke with FanSided on behalf of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes’ Mission Tiger and the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation ahead of the 2019 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. This year’s Sun Bowl will be between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Florida State Seminoles. Kickoff is 2:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. CT at the Sun Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.