LaDainian Tomlinson poured his heart and soul on the field for the Chargers over nine seasons, authoring a Hall of Fame career that redefined the running back position.
He wants to make it crystal clear he's bringing that same passion, dedication and devotion to his new role with the team.
LT was named Special Assistant to the owner on Thursday, where he'll focus on engaging fans and supporting community outreach in Los Angeles. He plans to take an active role in strengthening the team's bond with the city.
An icon in his own right, Tomlinson is adamant this role is bigger than himself. It's about shaping the success of the franchise in a new market. He's driven to establish a relationship that will stand the test of time, defining the Chargers bond with fans for decades to come in L.A.
"I want to create unique experiences for fans to engage with our players," he explained with his trademark passion. "I want this to be a big program. I want to develop something that is long lasting. That is what this is all about. At the end of the day, the bond between the fans and the team is why you play the game. They're the reason you play, and it is a special thing to share. I look forward to helping create what I had for (our) players and fans in Los Angeles. L.A. hadn't had an NFL team for so long, and I think these fans are starving for that! To make this impact, and a long lasting one, it will be as rewarding as when I played."
LT's accomplishments on the field are beyond compare.
Still, when asked what he is most proud of from his playing days, he often cites his off-the-field work and bond with the fans. Helping strengthen that relationship in Los Angeles is the natural way for Tomlinson to continue his legacy as one of the greatest Chargers.
In the five years since he hung up his cleats, Tomlinson remained close with the Chargers. He and Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos have talked about number 21 returning to the fold in an official capacity for some time. With the team relocating to Los Angeles, both felt the time was right to come back into the fold.
"I've always told Dean, 'Look, if there is any way I can help this organization, let me know. I'm more than willing to be there and help in the community. Whatever you need.' Over time we've talked about it and what it would look like, and it evolved into this role I'm eager to take on."
As a player, Tomlinson ran wild on the field. As Special Assistant, his mind is running with ideas about how to develop relationships in L.A. In order to succeed, he plans to speak with as many fans and community leaders as possible.
"The first thing I want to do is talk with a lot of people to understand what the Los Angeles Chargers need to do to become a vital part of this community on and off the field," he said. "That is the first thing I need to do. Listen and hear what this community needs. My hope is we build a strong support group of fans who are passionate about the L.A. Chargers, and passionate about our players and what they represent. But, I also want to get more of our players involved in the community. It would be great for them to have that relationship with the community I was able to have when I played. I know, firsthand, it is a special thing to have, and I think the L.A. fans deserve that. And I think our players are willing to do that and provide it for the community."
Serving as Special Assistant will be one of Tomlinson's numerous ventures. He will remain an analyst for NFL Network and pursue other passions, such as film.
Yet, overall, the ability to help define the future of the Chargers in Los Angeles is a vital role he's eager to begin.
"I am going to be around quite a bit," he promised. "I don't have an exact number of days in a week, but I am going to be around quite a bit. This is such a unique and great honor. This is a special experience I am about to embark on, and I welcome it. It's important. I've always been a guy who loves challenges. If people want to say to me, 'LT, it's going to be tough to build a brand in L.A.' Well, I welcome it! I welcome that challenge. People told me I couldn't play in the National Football League and I proved them wrong. So this is going to be fun, and I look forward to every minute of it."