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LT has gone from NFL MVP to Mr. Popularity

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.star-telegram.com/388/story/149386.html">Star-Telegram.com</a>

    By Charean Williams

    <img align="left" width="213" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/ltbest.jpg" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson" height="287" />"How does it feel to be the NFL MVP?" the young child asked LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday.

    In one word: Busy.

    The San Diego Chargers running back has become even more popular since winning the MVP award five months ago. In scoring an NFL-record 31 touchdowns and rushing for a league-high 1,815 yards last season, Tomlinson went from being a star football player to being a celebrity.

    Everyone -- fans, autograph seekers, advertisers, media -- now wants a piece of him. Tomlinson is so popular that one fan even asked his wife, LaTorsha, for an autograph Monday, something she now is accustomed.

    "There's been a lot more endorsements, a lot more time involved," Tomlinson said at his second annual Camp LT at TCU. "There are things you have to do, traveling and fulfilling contracts. My popularity has picked up, too, not only in this country, but around the world."

    Tomlinson has endorsement deals with Nike, AT&amp;T, Campbell Soup Company and VIZIO, among others. He also has a memorabilia deal.

    He recently turned down a chance to be on the cover of <em>Madden NFL '08</em>, EA Sports' best-selling video game, because "it wasn't worth what they were asking for," according to Tomlinson's business manager. Instead, Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young will grace the cover.

    "LaDainian has gotten so popular that he's to the point now that he can pick and choose who he wants to deal with," said Lamar Andrews, who helps manage Tomlinson's off-field pursuits.

    Tomlinson recently shot a commercial for Nike, which will debut in September. This week, besides conducting his two camps in Texas, Tomlinson is shooting a VIZIO commercial, as well as a documentary, and is finishing an interview with <em>60 Minutes</em> for a feature that will appear on the CBS News show before next season.

    VIZIO, one of the fastest-growing flat-panel HDTV brands, selected Tomlinson because of his performance on the field and his reputation off it. The company will join Tomlinson in dedicating the LT/VIZIO Educational Center at the Como Community Center in Fort Worth on Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, Tomlinson will be in Marlin and Waco to shoot the VIZIO commercial and documentary.

    "He's the kind of individual that this company would like to be their face, or represent them in a particular manner," said Glenda Reynolds, who is producing the VIZIO commercial and documentary. "We've interviewed a lot of people influential in his life, and the consensus is what you see is what you get. He is kind; he is humble; he gives back. Not that you're looking for any bad things, but you just won't find anybody who has a negative thing to say about him. That's just the kind of person you want to represent a product."

    Tomlinson isn't the only one benefiting from his increased popularity.

    TCU, where Tomlinson rushed for 5,263 yards and scored 54 touchdowns, has been helped in recruiting. The Horned Frogs have become especially popular in California, where Tomlinson now calls home.

    "He's been amazing for us," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "It's good to see somebody who does the right things out there representing us."

    The communities of Fort Worth, Waco and San Diego also have gotten a lift from Tomlinson. "LT's 21 Club" provides needy children with school supplies, tickets to Chargers games and college scholarships.

    He has donated more than $85,000 in scholarships to students at Waco University High School, which he attended, and another $65,000 to San Diego-area high school students. He sent seven San Diego-area high school students to entrepreneurial camp at Columbia University this year and plans to do the same in Fort Worth and Waco next year.

    He also feeds 2,100 families for Thanksgiving, and he gives out 2,100 toys to a children's hospital in San Diego.

    The Como Community Center in Fort Worth, as well as the Youngblood Boys &amp; Girls Club in Waco, will get new televisions, computers and educational DVDs for their educational centers in dedications this week.

    All of that made Tomlinson a co-recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in February. That award, which he shared with former teammate Drew Brees, meant as much to him as the MVP award.

    "From my heart, winning the Walter Payton Award was big," Tomlinson said. "It's honorable to win something with Walter Payton's name on it and what that stands for."

    These days, Tomlinson's name is almost as big as Payton's.

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