Plain Dealer Reporter
As the 2001 NFL draft approached, LaDainian Tomlinson had Cleveland on his radar screen.
"My agent was telling me that Cleveland was a team I could go to," Tomlinson said on a conference call this week. "I was prepared for the situation. I knew they needed a running back badly. I thought with me being available, there was a good chance of me coming to Cleveland."
Unfortunately, Tomlin son was not on the Browns' ra dar screen.
The first pick of the Butch Davis era - No. 3 overall in that 2001 draft - was used on defensive tackle Gerard Warren. Tomlinson, one of the most prolific running backs in NCAA Division I-A history at Texas Christian, was taken fifth by the San Diego Chargers.
Instead of Tomlinson, Davis was tracking Deuce McAllister of Mississippi. Davis tried to move up in the second round to select McAllister, who fell to New Orleans at No. 23.
Davis later said he and his coaches felt McAllister was a better fit in the offense being implemented by new coordinator Bruce Arians. Tomlinson was never a factor in the Browns' plans.
"I never went to Cleveland for a visit, and I don't think I talked to the team at the NFL combine," Tomlinson said.
"I don't think there was any interest at all."
We know how this story turned out.
Tomlinson has become the pre-eminent back of his time. His coach, Marty Schottenheimer, says "of all time."