Tomlinson found it in front of his locker at Qualcomm Stadium, a decorative purple bag -- "TCU colors," he explained later -- tied with a bow. The attached note implored "Please Open Immediately - LaTorsha." Inside was a box, and what it contained was a pregnancy test. A positive test.
"My wife is pregnant," an emotional Tomlinson announced on a day when one of the NFL's greatest running backs reached two significant milestones: His season-high 96 yards on 24 carries pushed him past Thurman Thomas and Franco Harris for 12th place on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 12,145 yards.
And Tomlinson's two rushing touchdowns gave him 146 for his career, surpassing Marcus Allen for sole possession of third place on the all-time list.
Tomlinson was also thankful San Diego will get a chance to break that division deadlock with the Denver Broncos -- losers of three in a row -- next Sunday at Invesco Field, and gratified that he was a key part of a victory that confirmed Rivers wasn't out of his mind a month ago when he proclaimed his San Diego team would erase Denver's seemingly insurmountable 3 1/2-game lead in the AFC West.
But that purple bag ...
"It was weird. I thought it was going to be a necklace or something," said Tomlinson, grinning widely. "But it was a pregnancy test in there. It was pretty special.
"Years ago, we lost a child so we've been trying again. God works in mysterious ways, and it's a blessing we're pregnant again."
Tomlinson and his wife, who were college sweethearts, already had a name for that baby. She was a girl, due in June 2005. Mckiah Renee's ultrasound picture was so special, L.T. carried it around with him everywhere. The couple eagerly decorated her baby room.
But when Tomlinson returned home from Hawaii following the '05 Pro Bowl, complications with the pregnancy stole Mckiah away from LaDainian and LaTorsha, who had wanted her so badly.
Sunday's news that another baby is coming, after so much heartbreak, was more than motivation for Tomlinson's milestone day. It was like a guiding hand lifting him past Eagles tacklers, and erasing the doubts of anyone who thought the 30-year-old former NFL rushing champion was past his prime.
"It absolutely was," he said, "because there is a special thing about having a child and your wife being pregnant. I can't explain it, but it was."
Tomlinson called LaTorsha as soon as he left the field, just after San Diego's defense held off a fourth-quarter charge by Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final period to pull Philadelphia (6-4) to within a score of the Chargers, 28-23, with 7:18 remaining.
"I said 'You're amazing,' " Tomlinson told his wife, who had held back the news for five days. "I actually cried for about five minutes."
How will Tomlinson process everything that happened to him Sunday -- the baby news, the career achievements, the important Chargers victory in which he played such a significant role?
"I don't know. I'm thankful. I'm thankful," he said. "I'm just so excited."
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