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An inside look at the Tomlinsons

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nbcsports.com/nfl/716786/detail.html">NBCSports.com</a>

    <img width="282" height="211" title="LaTorsha and LaDainian Tomlinson were married in 2003 after LT's third year with the Chargers." alt="LaTorsha and LaDainian Tomlinson were married in 2003 after LT's third year with the Chargers." src="http://www.nbcsports.com/2006/1227/720649_240X180.jpg" />

    By Stacey Pressman

    SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Anyone who's ever met LaDainian Tomlinson quickly understands the adjectives quiet, humble and gracious.For all the accolades, awards and broken records, there's hardly any showmanship or even the slightest bit of swagger in his step. LaDainian Tomlinson is quite the contrast from flamboyant players such as Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, who arguably can be placed in the diva camp of NFL personalities. Tomlinson is indeed the opposite.In fact, after breaking the NFL single-season touchdown record, LT was perfectly content with going straight home with his wife, LaTorsha, to watch a movie that was due back at Blockbuster. According to his wife, "If he were the sole decision-maker of plans for the evening, that's probably what he would have chosen for himself."

    It was the outgoing and effervescent LaTorsha who convinced her husband of four years, that it would just be plain weird to not go out and celebrate. "I had to beg him, that night after he broke the record, I begged him to go out," she says. "It was an issue, he wanted to just hang out at home. I kept telling him, you broke the record, you can't go home and just watch SportsCenter and play with your dog. Your teammates are out, you need to go! It would be very weird if you just stayed home." So after much cajoling they headed to Shawne Merriman's party at On Broadway with teammates Randall Godfrey and his wife, and Antonio Gates and his girlfriend to celebrate the accomplishment.

    But that was a rare moment and seeing LT out - partying in a club is something that doesn't happen often.In fact, LaTorsha admits, LaDainian is different from anyone she's ever met before. She too has a hard time understanding how someone who is so blessed with all of this talent, can be so humble, simple, and not the least bit cocky. "Sometimes I wonder if he even knows he's LaDainian Tomlinson," she says.But that's always been LT. In those evening hours, when it's all quiet and the couple is brushing their teeth and getting ready for bed, LaTorsha admits to asking her husband straight up, "Don't you just want to jump up and down and yell with excitement!?" That question often elicits a furrowed brow and more often than not launches her husband into a litany of platitudes, which LaTorsha describes as "the speech.""Oh, I get the speech all the time, she says. "It's usually something about ‘keeping your eye on the prize, staying focused and not getting too loose because when you get too loose you lose focus." In fact, I hear the speech so often, I sometimes find myself tuning it out."

    LaTorsha stopped by the local Starbucks in Poway, California, to talk to NBCSports.com about life with LaDainian. And just a little side note: Because LaDainian has jokingly described his wife as someone who is "outgoing and can talk to a tree," LT was moderately worried to leave his wife alone with a reporter. He was certain she'd divulge all of their business. But LaTorsha thinks people should know a little more about the man she's married to and what he is like off the field.

    So, with that said - onto their business.

    Q: LaDainian and LaTorsha: What are the chances that a LaDainian ends up with a girl named LaTorsha?
    A: I don't know. I'm LT too - (she laughs) He jokes that it was criteria for his wife that her name had to start with an L. Afterall, his mom is Loreane, his brother is LaVar and his sister is Londria. Random that I was a La. My parents just happened to name me LaTorsha and he happened to be LaDainian, it's really funny though cause when people send us mail, instead of writing LaDainian and LaTorsha Tomlinson they just write LT2 and then our address. Actually, what's even funnier is that the girlfriend before me was LaKeisha.

    Q: How did you meet?
    A: We met in college. He went to TCU obviously on an athletic scholarship and I was on an academic scholarship. I was a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar and I was there at TCU. I was actually tutoring a friend of LaDainian's, helping him with his English and his friend just said out of nowhere, ‘Hey my friend likes you and wants your number.' I said, ‘Okay, well you tell your friend that any real man would come and ask himself.' So his friend kind of put a bug in my ear and then a few weeks later I saw LaDainian at a Greek party on campus and he came up to me and talked to me. We exchanged numbers and we've been together ever since.

    Q: Okay, so your husband is tearing up this league right now, breaking all sorts of records, What's it like for you to be with him through all of this?
    A: It's funny because this is the first year that I am actually so excited about everything that is happening, I mean you've seen him, he's very quiet, very reserved doesn't ever get excited about much. He kind of takes all of this with a grain of salt. I mean, after a huge game where he's broken records, he'll just come home and say, ‘So do you want to watch a movie?' I'm sitting there saying, ‘Hey, don't you want to jump up and down or do something crazy?" And he just looks at me and says, ‘No, the movie we rented is due back at Blockbuster tomorrow, we probably should watch it." That's LaDainian. I think for him it has to marinate and soak in. I don't think its hit him yet. Once all of that is over maybe come April or May when he's just sitting around it will hit him.

    Q: How else would you describe him?
    A: Very simple, he's still the same from Day One, very quiet, very humble. I've never met anyone like him. It's very strange, I don't know anyone who can have what he has: the talent, the fame and just being so blessed and kinda just still so simple and more into the simple things in life, like going to a movie, going to dinner, going to the putt-putt. He says things like, ‘Yeah, I broke the record but the hoopla's over, we've got a game on Sunday.' I always describe him as someone who has a very old soul, he's only 27 but he's not a normal 27, he's not into parties and clubs and being part of the scene and being in the midst of everything going on. He likes to be at home - in those same ol' shorts and that cut-off TCU T-shirt that he's had for seven years with the fabric deteriorating.

    We are total opposites, I am a social butterfly. He tells people ‘My wife can talk to a tree' because I am very much that way. I love people. I'm an extrovert and he's somewhat introverted. I think I am interesting to him because I am exactly what he is not. My degree is in clinical psychology and I love the study of humans. People are so interesting to me. LaDainian is very quiet and reserved, he doesn't really want to talk a lot. He's shy and doesn't know what to say all the time so we're very different in that aspect but in our relationship it works because we kind of balance each other out. Plus, he knows how to get me to shut up sometimes when I get going.

    Q: And how is that?
    A: He pinches my knee under the table.I bring more out of him in terms of personality and opening up to people. Actually, he was joking about me doing this interview with you, saying that everyone's now going to know our personal business because I'm way too candid.

    Q: Why did you do this interview?
    A: Well, you were the first person to ask for an interview without him around. Usually I get interviewed if I drive him somewhere. They'll say ‘Oh, can I ask your wife a question?' But the fact that you wanted me to leave him home was somewhat appealing. Plus, anyone can find out his stats and his bio by Googling, but no one really knows what his life is like off the field and I'm probably the best person to talk to about that.

    Q: So what is your relationship like?
    A: People ask me that all the time what it's like being married to him and honestly I can't explain it. We have a very normal relationship. We love to go to the movies. It's easy for me to have a normal life with him because he is so simple, I say to him all the time, "I don't think even you know you're LaDainian Tomlinson and he says ‘What do you mean by that?' He just doesn't know that he's a superstar. At home, it's very normal. Plus, it's not like I am married to the LaDainian Tomlinson that everyone else knows, it's a different level. He doesn't come home where he just broke records and I'm on my knees worshipping him, I'm like, ‘take out the trash and clean up the dog poop because I told you to do it yesterday and now it stinks.'We also have a date night every Monday. You see, everyday during the week LaDainian goes to bed at 9 pm because he gets up early but since he doesn't go to work on Tuesdays, Monday night is the night we go out. It's our night. He doesn't do any interviews, there's no anything, we normally go to the movies, or go-kart riding or to the putt-putt. He's just a big kid.By the way, he'll be happy that I am referring to "practice" as "work." Every time I would say, "how's practice?" he'd say, "it's not practice, it's work." So now I've learned to call it work.

    Q: Is it easy to go out in San Diego, or do you find it difficult with fans clamoring to talk to him?
    A: I love San Diego because it's a different market when it comes to football, what I love about San Diego is that the people are so respectful so if we're out, they might walk by and in passing say great game LaDaninain and keep moving - or good luck next season-where as in Texas, we're from Texas and so we can never meet a stranger because everyone there is like family so if we're out eating, people will just pull up a chair next to us and sit down and order food. We don't get that here, it's a lot easier, and laid back. We love it.

    Two years ago you were pregnant but suffered a miscarriage. What was it like to go through that and how have you been since then?
    It's been two years since the miscarriage, and we are actually going to try again. It's been long enough. It was the hardest thing we went through in our relationship. I know that I went through it physically, but I truly think it was harder on him than me because he has such a soft, sweet, sensitive spirit so to go through something like that wasn't easy. He wants kids so bad, it's ridiculous. It's an addiction with him. That time in our life was difficult because we almost had it, it was so close but it slipped away.

    Is it true that LaDainian knew the sex of the baby but you didn't?
    Well, sort of. I didn't want to know the sex of the baby but he did. So we went to the doctor and told him that I don't want to know but he does. And then LaDainain thought about it more and then he wasn't sure if he really wanted to know, so he asked the doctor if he could write down the sex of the baby and put it in a sealed envelope and we'd put it in the drawer and maybe one night if we felt like it we'd open it. Well that piece of paper in the sealed envelope was itching at him. He couldn't leave it alone. So one morning, he goes to the drawer opens the letter, reads what the baby is going to be, he then comes into our room, wakes me up out of dead sleep and says, ‘Honey, we're having a little princess.' And I was like, ‘Okay, but I didn't want to know!' It was too much for him. He couldn't hold it in. So, now you know never to tell LaDainian a secret. He can't keep it!

    I heard when you watch his games you sit in the stands with the fans? What's that like?
    I used to sit in the stands, but I was too involved with the fans so now I sit in a box. I like to be in the middle of all the yelling, cheering, bantering back and forth with the opposing team, but I've learned over the years that you can't really do that when you're a player's wife. My husband doesn't think it's safe. He loves the fans, he's just worried that people will know I am his wife and give me a hard time. Plus, he knows me and he knows I like to have fun. I talk and taunt. He's very protective. He is conscious of where I am during the game. You'll see him look up every so often.

    Do you know he's talking to you?
    Definitely, and especially if I am watching an away game, he'll do certain things on the field or into the camera. Like if he takes a hard hit, he knows I'm sitting there at home saying ‘Get up, get up, get up.' If you watch him, he will take his fist and hit it once to his chest pad, that let's me know that he's okay. Sometimes he'll actually turn to the camera in the middle of the game and mouth ‘I love you.' He actually does it all the time. After he broke the record (NFL single season TD record) and the guys lifted him up in the end zone, he went to go sit on the bench and mouthed, ‘I love you.' He does it a lot. He can have a conversation with me and basically no one else really knows what's going on.

    So he breaks the record -
    And I cried. Yep, I cried.It was strange, I am not a crier and things like that don't usually make me emotional. It just was a great moment. I didn't cry so much that he broke the record, I cried because of the team camaraderie and how they picked him up and hoisted him in the air. I don't think he's worked so hard to try and gel with a team. They are so close they see each other from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and to work so hard to get to the point where they finally get there - it made me emotional. It was really special.I told him when we got home that I cried when he broke the record and he was surprised. He said, ‘You cried?' And he joked about it and called me a crybaby. And I asked him, "Did you know you were gonna do it?" and he said, ‘No.' He didn't think he was going to go back on the field, but Shawne Merriman tips the ball, we get a turnover and he's back on the field on the 8-yard line. It happened so fast and it happened on one of his favorite plays and he ran the ball in. I asked him, ‘So how do you feel now?' He told me: ‘I'm glad it's over and no one's gonna ask me about it anymore. Now I can focus on the ultimate goal, which is doing well in the playoffs and going to the Super Bowl.

    Is there talk in your home about the MVP?
    Oh no. We're not allowed to talk about potentially being MVP at our house. He doesn't like that conversation. I say, ‘When you're MVP, do you want to have a party?' And he looks at me and says, ‘We're not gonna talk about it,' and I'm like, ‘No, I need to know these things, I need to plan.'I am sort of planning a party behind his back. I want to do it at our house, have all his friends over, but I'm not allowed to talk about it so I don't know if I should plan or not plan but I will be ready just in case with some things lined up. Caterers, bartenders. His friends and teammates know if he's MVP there's a party. He's not superstitious, but he's just so humble that he doesn't like talking about what he's possibly going to have unless he has it. He thinks it's too cocky. Which I love that about him. He's just not cocky, it's the strangest thing. I don't know anyone who can have all the talent he has and not be. For him, it's not a big deal. He loves kids and he cares more about the community than anything else. I mean, he broke the record, we're sitting on the couch and he's says, ‘You know we have our Christmas program on Tuesday?' I'm like ‘yeah, I know.'

    If you could pick your ideal Super Bowl match up what would it be?
    My ultimate goal for this season is for us (San Diego) to play Drew (Brees) and the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl. I can watch New Orleans because I love Drew Brees to death, and Reggie Bush is like a little brother to us. LaDainian was upset when Drew left. They played in the All-American game together, they were at the Heisman Trophy presentation together and then when they came out of college, what do you know? They ended up playing for the same team. It would've been a fairy tale story if they could've gotten a Super Bowl ring together because since high school and running into each other, they just have a very special friendship. But it would be amazing if they faced each other because no matter what the outcome I know LaDainian and Drew would both be thrilled for each other. That would be my ultimate dream. Sure it would have been amazing if they could have won one together, but this scenario would truly be the next best thing.

    What was the reaction at home when Coach Schottenheimer seemed to get choked up and basically say that LaDainian was the best back he's ever seen in a uniform?
    Marty always says great things about LaDainian. So I have always known how he feels about him. It's great to see how much the coach cares about him. There's a genuine love there, almost like a father-son. LaDainian really wants to get to the Super Bowl and win it for Marty. It means the world to my husband to make that happen for him as well as guys like Lorenzo Neal and Randall Godfrey. Because a lot of them will retire and he wants them to have a ring.

    I've talked to Shaun Phillips and Luis Castillo, two young guys on the Chargers who are housemates and who admit they are in total awe of your husband. They said they love playing with him and are honored to be a part of a team where this great football player is breaking records. However, they described him as someone who doesn't really say much in the locker room. He'll always answer questions if asked and is very gracious, but I got the sense that he's reserved and all business at work. I was wondering what your thoughts were on those comments?
    It's funny because I've heard Matt Wilhelm and Jacques Cesaire say the very same thing. In fact, they've even asked, ‘So what's LT like? And I say, ‘Wait, you see him more than I do so you tell me." When his teammates started asking me what he was like, I sort of realized that he's also very quiet with them too. So one day I said to him, ‘You need to have the guys over more.' He tells me, ‘Everyone's not like you Torsha, you would have everyone move in." When I heard about the Jacques and Matt thing, I told him - in a nice way - he needs to be more open and talkative. It's definitely a point of discussion. It's not a bad thing, that's just who he is. He knows it's probably how his teammates feel, but that's him, he's quiet. He'll say, ‘Torsha, it's not social hour, it's very serious.'Basically, I just want him to savor these moments and really enjoy what's going on in his life. I try to open him up and bring the fun and personality out of him. When you're on top you're a hot commodity and when you're not, you're not. It's hard to get him to truly enjoy it in the moment but trust me, I'm trying.
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