It was electric whenever Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and former running back LaDainian Tomlinson shared the field on Sundays.
But it was equally as special on Saturday when the former teammates, along with Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett, joined forces at the signature-gathering kickoff event for the Citizens’ Initiative.
Tomlinson, who walked up to raucous chants of “LT! LT!” flew in from Texas to attend Saturday’s event to support his adopted city. The future Hall of Famer spoke of Chargers legends and what their legacies mean to America’s Finest City.
“Think about how many great players you, or your mom or dad, or grandparents have seen; from Lance Alworth (or) Dan Fouts, to Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow, you name it,” Tomlinson said. “For 55 years, you guys have seen some great players. So what I’m telling you is, let’s build a stadium for the next 55 years so there could be more great players in this community. You deserve it, San Diego, you deserve it. Please, don’t let the Chargers leave here, let’s get those votes.”
Fifty-five was the theme of number 21’s speech as he described how Junior Seau would have embraced an event like Saturday’s.
“It’s been 55 years since the Chargers have been in this community, which happens to be your favorite son, the late Junior Seau’s number. If Junior was here, you know where he would be. He would be sitting right here, and in fact, he would probably go to each door in this community because this is where he’s from (and he would want) to get those votes.”
Saving the best for last, number 17 delivered the final address to the fans. It’s no secret Rivers wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he didn’t shy away from getting fired up about the city he’s called home for the past 12 years.
“It’s also easy for me to talk about San Diego because I love San Diego,” Rivers said. “Last year, the last (home) game against Miami, I know you all felt the (emotion) like we did. It was very emotional because we thought it might be over. I was seeing and thinking about all the memories like the L.T. chants and all the times we handed it to him and he dove over for touchdowns. It was a tough year, but what was really clear last year to me was what our team means to the community and what our community means to the team. It’s way more than what happens between the lines.”
Pro Bowl cornerback Verrett sat on stage while Rivers and Tomlinson spoke, and appeared at the event to support the city he’s called home going on three seasons.
“It means everything (to be here),” he said. “Just seeing the atmosphere and all the Bolts fans that are out here gets me fired up for the season. Seeing Phil out here, I’m an up-and-coming star, but I definitely just wanted to show my face and show the love that I have for the team and the community.”
Paid for by Citizens for Sports, Entertainment and Tourism, with major funding by Chargers Football Company, LLC.