It all came full circle for Justin Herbert on Wednesday morning.
As a 9-year-old kid in Oregon, Herbert declared that he was going to be a professional football player and live in Los Angeles.
Check and check.
The kid who grew up a Chargers fan was sporting a No. 10 practice jersey on the first day of training camp Wednesday, only hours after signing a multi-year extension that will bind him to the Bolts for the long haul.
"I've never wanted to be anywhere else," Herbert said. "This is where I've wanted to be for, shoot, as long as I've been born and playing football. It's a dream come true."
He later added: "Words are hard to find for this process. I'm still trying to process the whole thing. I feel free and just excited to go play football."
Get to know QB Justin Herbert and browse through photos of him as a kid.
Getting the deal done before the first training camp practice was surely a goal for both the Chargers and Herbert.
Nobody wanted to answer questions about the lingering topic as the days stretched into August and the season neared.
Instead, the two sides came together and highlighted the first day of camp with a celebratory mood.
"It's a special moment for the club," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley. "So much respect for Justin and his team.
"We can't say enough about [Executive Vice President of Football Administration/Player Finance] Ed McGuire and [Director of Football Administration] Katie Sylvan and the investment from the Spanos Family," Staley added. "This is a great way to start the season, for sure."
And Herbert said he was proud to be able to revel in such a massive milestone with his teammates.
"I was just in the team room with all of my teammates, hanging out with them," Herbert said. "They were super supportive and thankful. It was really cool to be part of it with them and kind of celebrate with them."
Even if it means Herbert and his hefty new contract will now likely take over team dinners going forward.
"I think I owe them a lot of dinners," Herbert said with a smile. "Khalil Mack has done an incredible job [last year] of taking care of our offense and taking care of the defense, as well.
"We know there are some really selfless guys on this team. I'm just so loyal to them and so thankful to their support along the way," Herbert added. "I think it might be my turn to make up for some of that."
Herbert's teammates will surely take him up on that.
"We've got to go on the rooftop somewhere with the contract that he got," Derwin James, Jr. said with a laugh. "He's going to take us somewhere, I know he will. He's always a great guy, it'll be fun."
James then turned serious about his admiration for Herbert.
"So excited for him," James said. "I see how hard he's been working every year, day in and day out.
"Couldn't have happened to a better guy. We're just so excited for him," James added. "We know he's going to lead us to great places."
James' final quote there is now the sticking point as Herbert deals with expectations of having a new and rather large contract.
Herbert said Wednesday that he's fired up to simply focus on camp and not have to worry about any more contract talk.
But remember, he also grew up a Chargers fan and will now take on the responsibility of being the next great quarterback who have worn the Bolt over the past few decades.
"We're so fortunate," Staley said. "I think that the history of this team will tell you that this franchise knows how to find quarterbacks — when you go all of the way back to [Hall of Fame QB] Dan Fouts and Stan Humphries, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees, and, now, Justin — we're very, very fortunate.
"To have a young player leading your team that is made up of all the right stuff, most importantly, and then, who can play the game like few who have ever played the position can, it's just really exciting for us," Staley added.
Herbert knows that the onus now falls on him to help lead the Chargers to their first title in team history.
"I have so much respect for those guys [Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts and former QB Philip Rivers]," Herbert said. "Growing up, watching them and being a fan of them, I know how important that role is to the team.
"Those two were class acts and about as good as it gets on and off the field," Herbert added. "I'll do my best to uphold that legacy and make sure that I'm honoring the Chargers legacy."
The Chargers let it be known this week with the contract they handed out that they believe Herbert can be that guy.
"Earning this contract can be explained by how much he loves the game and how much he cares about improving," Staley said. "Where he started as a high school player is not where he is right now. Where he started at Oregon is not where he is right now. Where he started in the NFL is not where he is right now.
"He just pours into it. [People] have heard me say it, he's just at the beginning," Staley added. "There's so much in front of him. The thing about him is that he is wired for the work, he is up for it. He loves it. I'm really glad that we have him."
And Herbert made it clear Wednesday that he's ready to carry that mantle of being the face of a franchise on his shoulders for years to come.
"I think that's kind of the role of the quarterback, is to have that big responsibility," Herbert said. "I look forward to that challenge. I've grown each year. I've gotten better at that.
"There is still room for improvement, but I'm going to be the best quarterback, teammate, whatever the team needs me to be," Herbert added. "I'm up to the challenge and willing to do it."
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