Tomlinson looks forward to visiting Cowboys Stadium

SAN DIEGO -- LaDainian Tomlinson will never forget his first visit to Texas Stadium as an NFL player.

His family was there, he talked with boyhood idol Emmitt Smith before the game, played at the stadium he visited as a kid and his San Diego Chargers beat the Dallas Cowboys.

Oh, and he managed to lose a pair of diamond earrings worth $26,000.

"I remember it pretty vividly," Tomlinson said Monday, six days before he and the streaking Chargers visit the Cowboys in their new stadium. "Obviously losing my earrings is one thing that sticks out. I will never forget that."

That was L.T.'s second game during his rookie season of 2001, and he learned the hard way never to wear earrings during a game.

"It was during a play. I looked up and they were gone," said Tomlinson, who grew up in Waco and played for TCU.

"Here and there when I got tackled I'd kind of look around," he said. "But I didn't have a chance to actually get out there and really search. It was pretty much a done deal. They were gone."

He can laugh about it now.

Asked if anybody ever found them, he said: "I never heard anything about them. I'm pretty sure someone found them. The grounds crew, I guarantee you, found them. Merry Christmas. I had them insured, so insurance is something great. I was able to get them back."

Tomlinson is looking forward to what could be his first and only visit to Cowboys Stadium as a player.

"It'll be a pretty emotional day for me, pretty much," he said. "The fact of the matter is, you look at your career, my last time was my rookie year and I'm in my ninth year and the schedule says that I might not play there again. It'll be special."

The Chargers (9-3) have won seven straight games and continue to lead the AFC West by one game over the Denver Broncos. Sunday's game will be the first of two straight against division leaders. Dallas (8-4) is tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East. San Diego will then return home to face AFC North leader Cincinnati.

Tomlinson is looking forward to checking out the new $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium.

"I've heard so much about the stadium," Tomlinson said. "I've got friends who have season tickets. They say it's great, and I just can't wait. This is the next thing, this stadium. This is as big as it gets. I'm going to look around, hopefully be able to take a tour. I would like to see where Jerry Jones sits, and, you know, check it out."

Tomlinson reached two more milestones in Sunday's 30-23 win at Cleveland. He moved past Hall of Famer Jim Brown and into eighth place overall on the career rushing list with 12,321 yards. He also reached 150 touchdowns faster than any player in league history, hitting the milestone in his 137th game. Smith needed 160 games to reach 150 and Jerry Rice didn't score his 150th until his 167th.

NOTES: Coach Norv Turner said he's optimistic that OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) and DE Luis Castillo (calf) will return from sitting out the Browns game with injuries, but won't know for sure until later this week. He said S Eric Weddle (knee) is a longer shot to return.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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