Tomlinson respects his former teammate
Tomlinson, the San Diego Chargers' star running back, laughed off Seau's comment Wednesday that the way to stop him is to feed him fried chicken and watermelon. Seau, the former Chargers linebacker who's now with Miami, insists he meant no harm with the statement.
And Tomlinson said a few people in the Chargers' organization, whom he wouldn't identify, were taken aback that he wore a Seau jersey around the team's headquarters on Monday as a show of respect for his former teammate. Angered at their response, the normally easygoing Tomlinson left in a huff after that day's practice.
The Chargers (1-5) host Seau and the Dolphins (4-2) on Monday night. Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl selection, was traded to Miami in April after spending his first 13 seasons with his hometown Chargers.
Tomlinson said a few people told him he should have worn Seau's jersey some other time. He wouldn't say if they were players, coaches or other staff members. Mondays are generally low key, with a team meeting and a light workout. Teams don't put in their game plan until Wednesday.
"I wanted to wear it then, just have a little deal about that," Tomlinson said. "What I wanted to get out of it was just paying some honor to Junior, not only to what he meant to me but what he meant to the game, his dedication to the game.
"I feel like that's a lot of stuff that's missing in football. You've got to respect people who've done a lot for the game. A lot of times people get caught up in, 'Oh, what are people going to say?' It's not about what people are going to say, it's about giving that respect to a guy who has meant so much to the game and so much to me as a player, even since I was a little kid, watching Junior Seau."
Tomlinson said he wasn't surprised that his fashion statement was questioned.
"I kind of figured a couple of people would, because they don't understand," he said. "That's why I wanted to get it out so they could understand it."
Chargers strength coach Dave Redding was wearing an orange Dolphins cap around the building on Wednesday.
Tomlinson said he's finished wearing his Seau jersey.
"I'm framing it now," he said.
Seau wore a Tomlinson jersey on Wednesday at Dolphins headquarters.
"It's a good thing, man, to have that respect from him," Tomlinson said. "It's just nice, man. He's a good guy."
Seau caused a flap Wednesday when, in answering a question about how to stop Tomlinson, he told Miami reporters: "You give him watermelon and load him up with fried chicken and tell him to keep eating."
Seau, who is of Samoan descent, later said he and Tomlinson, who is African-American, are friends and the comment was meant in jest.
Tomlinson said he laughed when he heard Seau's words.
"I wasn't offended at all," Tomlinson said. "You just have to know Junior. He's silly like that."
Tomlinson, whose cutbacks often leave defenders grasping at air as he runs by, faced Seau in practice for two seasons.
How's it going to play out Monday night?
"It's going to be like anticipation -- who's going to win it?" Tomlinson said. "I know when Junior's about to meet me, I know exactly when he's trying to tackle me. He doesn't know which way I'm going. I think I've got the advantage."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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