LaDainian Tomlinson: Meeting Emmitt Smith Changed My Life

Adrian Peterson had a quiet debut for the New Orleans Saints. Even worse, it came against his former team. Peterson rushed six times for 18 yards, as the Saints lost to the Vikings, 29-19, in Minnesota, where Peterson spent the first decade of his career.

While Peterson probably has better games ahead of him this season, LaDainian Tomlinson knows exactly what he’s feeling. Tomlinson spent his first nine seasons with the Chargers before finishing his career with the Jets in 2010-11.

“For me, I think it was time,” the Hall of Fame running back said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I was ready for change. When I was with the Chargers at that time in San Diego, the way we played football, what I was used to was no longer present. We weren’t playing football the way I like to play, and so, it was time for a change. The team was changing. So for me, it was great. I was able to come to a totally different region, came to the East Coast where they played the brand of football I was used to and I was comfortable with. So I embraced it, I enjoyed it, I was ready for that change, and I really had a great two years here in New York.”

 

 

Tomlinson rushed for 1,194 yards and seven touchdowns with the Jets. He also caught 94 balls for 817 yards and two scores.

Tomlinson, an NFL MVP in 2006, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August. He grew up revering Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.

“(Payton) was the guy I wanted to be like,” Tomlinson said. “I watched him with my dad and really watched everything about this man. I used to watch film on him a lot once I got a little bit older. I wanted to be more like him, the way he ran the ball and the way he caught the ball, the way he even threw the ball – but more importantly, the way he carried himself off the field. That was important to me.”

Tomlinson didn’t have to watch a lot of film on Smith, though. Growing up in Texas, he was able to watch him every Sunday. In fact, when Tomlinson was 12, he met Smith at a football camp.

“That’s what really changed my life,” the 38-yar-old said, “having the opportunity to meet Emmitt Smith. It was the fact of sizing Emmitt up and saying, ‘This guy’s really not that big. I can do this. He’s 5-9, 205 pounds. Man, I can do it one day.’ (Payton and Smith) were the guys I looked up to the most.”

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