Tomlinson to retire with the Chargers

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Tomlinson to retire with the Chargers

LaDainian Tomlinson's time in the NFL is up. One week away from his 33rd birthday, the free-agent running back has not found any suitors to play the 2012 season and he will now sign with the San Diego Chargers on a one-day contract to officially retire with the team that drafted him.

The Chargers will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. on Monday to announce Tomlinson's retirement.

It won't be a teary goodbye to LT here in New England. Over the course of his 11-year career -- nine with the Bolts and two with the Jets -- Tomlinson has been one of the Patriots' greatest rivals. Here's a rundown of how LT's relationship with the Pats has shaken out:

Patriots beat Tomlinson's Chargers in the 2007 Divisional round, 24-21. LT became so angry that he had to be restrained when he saw Patriots players dancing on the Chargers' midfield logo. The dance was done to mock then-Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman's "Lights Out" dance.

"I would never react in that way. I was very upset," Tomlinson said after the game. "That is disrespectful. They showed no class and maybe that comes from the head coach."

In 2008, New England beat LT and the Bolts, 21-12, to advance to their fourth Super Bowl in seven years. Tomlinson was injured for the game and carried the ball just twice. He famously hung on the sidelines wearing a parka and a helmet for most of the game.

In 2011, Tomlinson got some measure of redemption. He caught a touchdown from Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez as New York came into Foxboro to win the Divisional Playoff game with the Pats, 28-21.

Tomlinson visited the Dan Patrick Show in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVI and was asked if he still hates the Patriots.

"I don't hate them," Tomlinson said. "When we were between those lines, they were the team that always kept my teams from getting to where we wanted to go and win a championship."

Hypothetically, could he ever put aside the hate to sign a deal with the Patriots?

"I think that would be ... uh ... that would be ... obviously I would be tempted because Tom Brady's there and I would love to play with him," Tomlinson told Patrick. "I just think probably at this point it would be a stretch."

Tomlinson leaves the NFL as one of the greatest backs in the history of the game and very likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's fifth all time in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns and he set the single-season record for rushing TDs with 28 in 2006.

The only thing missing from his long list of achievements in the league is a Super Bowl title. For that, in part, he has the Patriots to thank.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.