News that future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson had been released by the San Diego Chargers immediately set off speculation about where he might land, with the Broncos among the many, many teams mentioned.
Makes sense on a superficial level. Even in those good old days when Denver regularly beat SD, Tomlinson tended to light the Broncos up. Not that this was anything out of the ordinary. Not long ago, he was arguably the most exciting and productive player in the NFL.
He's not anymore -- although he seems to be having a hard time recognizing that fact. Which explains why the Broncos would be foolish to bring him aboard.
The closest equivalent to a Tomlinson signing in Denver would be the Nuggets' decision to acquire Allen Iverson a few years back. Iverson was still a strong performer capable of scoring a lot of points, but his skills had begun to diminish -- not that he appeared to notice.
Iverson still saw himself as the go-to guy even though he couldn't carry the same load as during the early years of his career -- and sitting him invited resentment. The Nuggets didn't see this reaction from him often, since he got plenty of minutes during his time in Colorado. But amid subsequent stops in Detroit and Memphis, in particular, he got the pouts when coaches wanted him to serve as a role player. His ego simply wouldn't allow him to be anything less than the squad's number one option.
While Tomlinson has been more of a team player than Iverson has throughout his years in pads, he's still got something of the AI syndrome: He seems to believe he can still be the same back he was during 2006, when he gained more than 1,800 yards rushing and plenty more receiving.
As a Bronco, he'd definitely have to share carries with Knowshon Moreno, on whom Coach Josh McDaniels has bet a significant amount, and probably Correll Buckhalter, who was pretty efficient last season despite Denver's running game being off. Would Tomlinson bitch about this situation to the press? Maybe not: He's a class guy. But you can be damn sure his displeasure would permeate the locker room. And given the question marks at quarterback, wide receiver and plenty of other positions, the Broncos simply don't need that kind of distraction.
Once upon a time, the Broncos picked up Tony Dorsett at the end of his remarkable run -- and the fit was lousy. The same would be true of Tomlinson. So don't do it, McD.
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