Count LaDainian Tomlinson among the armchair psychologists trying to pinpoint what's wrong with Philip Rivers this season.
Tomlinson was a teammate of the Chargers' quarterback during his time in San Diego and on Thursday speculated that Rivers has been "distracted" during a season in which he has thrown 11 interceptions in seven games and fumbled a crucial snap in Monday night's overtime loss at Kansas City.
"When you're in your prime, everything slows down," Tomlinson said, according to the New York Daily News. "When you're in your prime, you really see the field well. You're in control out there. I don't know what Philip may be going through right now. But I will say, to me, he seems distracted for some reason. It just seems like he's distracted."
Before Rivers was The Man in San Diego, Tomlinson wore the crown during a celebrated nine-season run that included an NFL MVP award and five Pro Bowl selections. Given his history, Tomlinson understands the pressure that goes along with leading the way.
"I always said this: It's hard to be the guy on the team. When they say this is your team. It's hard to be that guy now," Tomlinson said. "Because you get all the questions of what's wrong and what's right. Then, you get your teammates that expect certain things from you. When that doesn't happen, you get strange looks in the locker room. So it's hard to be that guy when it's your team. So that may have a little bit to do with what's going on."
If you sense a whiff of lingering resentment from Tomlinson, you're not alone. On Thursday night, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith called out his former star.
"I agree with what L.T. said about it's hard being the guy," Smith said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune (via ProFootballTalk.com). "But I think it's a lot harder when it's no longer your team, and you're not the guy."
Rivers wasn't as personal, but he made it clear he's not buying what his former running back is selling.
"Based on what you told me, he has to be speaking from experience," said Rivers, who jammed his left ring finger on the fumbled snap against the Chiefs. "... I don't feel that burden, nor has it had anything to do with the struggles. ... People say, 'Itâs your team.' I've never bought into that."
It appears Tomlinson hasn't achieved the closure he'd hoped for after the Jets beat the Chargers in Week 7. As for his theory, let's not forget Rivers had one of his best seasons in 2010 as the central figure of the Chargers' offense. Like Rivers, we're not buying.