Sunday, August 15, 2004

Tomlinson signs richest RB deal

Worth more than Redskins' Portis

SAN DIEGO - LaDainian Tomlinson signed the richest contract for a running back in NFL history Saturday, a deal with the San Diego Chargers worth nearly $60 million.

The star back will get $21 million in guarantees in the eight-year deal.

Tomlinson surpasses Washington's Clinton Portis, who got $50.5 million for eight years.

"This is a momentous occasion for the Chargers and all Charger fans," said team president Dean Spanos. "LaDainian represents everything you want from a player. He is our role model. Every young player should aspire to be like L.T., the way he carries himself on and off the field. He has demonstrated he can do and will do what it takes to be a winner and to be the best. And he is, undoubtedly, the best running back in the National Football League."

Tomlinson credited Spanos' involvement in the negotiations as a key to settling on the deal.

"It means a lot," he said. "To me, it meant that he cared about it and that he wanted to get (the contract) done.

"They have obviously committed themselves to winning and it's just a way that they have proven they're committed to winning. I think we can move forward from here."

Last season, Tomlinson became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in one season. In Tomlinson's three years in the NFL, he's rushed for 4,564 yards and 37 touchdowns. Tomlinson also is the fifth player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards in four games.

"LaDainian is certainly one of the best I've ever been around, both as a player and how he carries himself off the field," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I've been around a lot of great players, but certainly he's in a class of his own. From a team chemistry standpoint, it's extremely important to everyone involved with this organization to know that L.T. is going to be here for many more years."

BILLS: Cornerback Kevin Thomas cracked a bone in his left hand and is expected to miss today's preseason opener against Denver. Thomas is competing with Terrence McGee for the team's third cornerback job.

DOLPHINS: The family of Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga and the team donated $1 million to Hurricane Charley relief Saturday.

"We totally support the relief efforts being undertaken to help those in need," Huizenga said.

The Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars organized a program to collect donations at their exhibition game Saturday night.

Donations also will be accepted at the Jaguars' home game against Tampa Bay next Friday.

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