L.T. says Sanchez swayed him to sign with Jets over Vikes

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez came through in the clutch last offseason -- without even throwing a pass.

LaDainian Tomlinson said Tuesday that he chose the New York Jets over the Minnesota Vikings in March because he was excited by the prospect of playing with the young quarterback.

"Watching him at USC, and I knew, he just had a knack about him, and even last year," Tomlinson said. "He was probably the main reason that I came here, honestly. I saw the guy and I said, 'You know what, this guy has something special to him.'"

After nine years in San Diego, Tomlinson was released by the Chargers in February and courted by both the Jets and Vikings. The seventh-leading rusher in NFL history was wined and dined by both teams, but it came down to Sanchez for Tomlinson.

"When I looked at it," he said, "I just wanted to come here because of him."

It also helped that Tomlinson and Brett Favre exchanged text messages about the running back coming to Minnesota, and the Vikings quarterback never indicated whether or not he would return to the team or retire.

"So, my thought process," Tomlinson said, "was, 'I can go with a guy that led his team to the AFC championship as a rookie. Got a great defense, great coaching staff. Or I can go somewhere that I don't know who's going to be the quarterback.' So it was pretty easy to me."

It appears Tomlinson made the right call. While the Vikings' season is spiraling out of control with Favre struggling on and off the field, coach Brad Childress fired and the Randy Moss debacle, the Jets are 8-2, tied for the best record in the NFL.

Tomlinson has been rejuvenated this season, rushing for 692 yards and five touchdowns and leading the Jets with 43 catches for 315 yards. He credits Sanchez for helping him return to being a dangerous playmaker. Sanchez has led New York to three consecutive victories either in overtime or late in games.

"He's ahead of his time as far as the learning curve and knowing this offense," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson passed former Jets running back Curtis Martin on Sunday for seventh on the league's career yards from scrimmage list with 17,452. With 13,182 rushing yards, Tomlinson also is 78 yards away from passing Eric Dickerson for sixth on the career rushing list.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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