On Thursday, former Chargers and now New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson gave his opinion on Philip Rivers struggles this season.
“I don’t know what Philip may be going through right now,” said Tomlinson, in his second season with the Jets following his release by the Chargers in February 2010. “But I will say, to me he seems distracted, for some reason. Like on the sideline, he seems like he’s just distracted. And I’ve always said this: It’s hard to be ‘the guy.’ When they say this is your team, it’s hard to be the guy, because you get all the questions of what’s wrong and what’s right. And then you get your teammates who expect certain things from you, and when that doesn’t happen, you get strange looks in the locker room. It’s hard to be that guy when it’s your team, so that may have a little bit to do with what’s going on, too.”
Both Rivers and general manager A.J. Smith responded to Tomlinson’s comments according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“Based on what you told me,” Rivers said, “he has to be speaking from experience.”
As to Tomlinson’s point, Rivers denied it being an issue.
“I don’t feel that burden, nor has it had anything to do with the struggles,” Rivers said. “… People say, ‘It’s your team.’ I’ve never bought into that.”
Smith was asked about the former running back’s opinion. As is often the case, Smith had his own opinion. And while the G.M. was clearly supporting Rivers, he also fired back by alluding to Tomlinson’s final season-plus here, in which the running back struggled with a diminished role.
“I agree with what LT said about it’s hard being the guy,” Smith said. “But I think it’s a lot harder when it’s no longer your team, and you’re not the guy.”