NFL: Tomlinson: Sanchez was ‘main reason’ to pick Jets
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) – Mark Sanchez came through in the clutch last offseason – without even throwing a pass.
LaDainian Tomlinson said Tuesday he chose the New York Jets over the Minnesota Vikings in March because he was excited by the prospect of playing with the young quarterback.
“Watching him at USC, and I knew, he just had a knack about him, and even last year,” Tomlinson said. “He was probably the main reason that I came here, honestly. I saw the guy and I said, ‘You know what, this guy has something special to him.”‘
After nine years with San Diego, Tomlinson was released by the Chargers in February and courted by both the Jets and Vikings. It came down to Sanchez, the team’s No. 1 draft pick last year, for the seventh-leading rusher in NFL history.
“When I looked at it,” he said, “I just wanted to come here because of him.”
Tomlinson has previously said playing for Rex Ryan and being in an offense that was familiar to him with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer played large roles in his decision, as was the fact that his wife preferred living in New York over Minnesota.
It also helped that Tomlinson and Brett Favre exchanged text messages about the running back coming to Minnesota, and the Vikings quarterback never indicated whether he was going to return to the team or retire.
“So, my thought process,” Tomlinson said, “was, ‘I can go with a guy that led his team to the AFC championship as a rookie. Got a great defense, great coaching staff. Or I can go somewhere that I don’t know who’s going to be the quarterback.’ So it was pretty easy to me.”
And, it appears Tomlinson made the right call, too. While Minnesota’s season is spiraling with Favre struggling on and off the field, Brad Childress fired and the Randy Moss debacle, the Jets are tied for the best record in the NFL at 8-2.
Tomlinson has also been rejuvenated this season, rushing for 692 yards and five touchdowns and leading the Jets with 43 catches for 315 yards. He credits Sanchez for helping him return to being a dangerous playmaker. Sanchez has led New York to three straight victories either in overtime or late in games, and Tomlinson has played a big role in the comebacks.
“He’s ahead of his time as far as the learning curve and knowing this offense,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson passed former Jets running back Curtis Martin on Sunday for seventh on the league’s career yards from scrimmage list with 17,452. With 13,182 yards rushing, Tomlinson is also 78 yards away from passing Eric Dickerson for sixth on the career rushing list.