SAN DIEGO - LaDanian Tomlinson has long been a fan of Emmitt Smith. The San Diego Chargers running back idolized Smith growing up, attending Smith’s football camp in Texas.
Now, Tomlinson is one of the best backs in the NFL. But he still looks up to Smith.
“We have shared a couple conversations about the NFL as far as what to expect, how to take care of yourself,” the Cardinals running back said. “He seems to be one of those kids that is eager to learn and understand some of the ins and outs of being a professional football player. He’s thirsty for knowledge like I was.”
Smith even picked up his cell phone when asked about Tomlinson, saying “I’ve got his number right here.”
The two will see each other tonight when their teams meet in a preseason contest. Smith likely won’t play. Tomlinson will be extremely limited, if he plays at all.
But the two will definitely talk.
“He is one of those guys to take the initiative in taking the first step in understanding what I have done,” Smith said. “. . . There has always been someone who has come before that has that knowledge. For me to keep that knowledge for myself, that (would be) very selfish of me.”
MAD AT “MADDEN”
Like many NFL players, defensive tackle Marcus Bell rushed out to buy the latest version of the NFL video game “Madden 2004.” Then he realized an upsetting fact: The photo that accompanies the Cards’ Marcus Bell in the game is of a Seattle player with the same name.
Arizona’s Marcus Bell is 6-foot-2, 340 pounds and black. The Seahawks’ Bell, a linebacker, is 6-1, 245 and white.
“It hurt me,” Bell said during a good-natured rant. “Madden’s slipping. I’m a huge fan of Madden, telling everyone to pick it up, but too damn bad, they’ve got me up there white.
“I got like 13 voice messages . . . everybody in the locker room, got people calling me from back home, got people calling me from Hooters, go into my (T.G.I.) Friday’s, ‘You’re white on the game.’ It’s bad. It’s bad.”
Bell said Nike once confused the two when sending out apparel, but nothing cut as deep as this.
“You go on the game, make a play (with your video game self) and the wrong picture pops up,” Bell said. “It ain’t like we are close in terms of weight, color, any of that. I don’t know how they messed that up.”
Tim Duncan will handle the first-half kicking tonight and Bill Gramatica will get the second half. Bryant Johnson, Reggie Newhouse and Anquan Boldin will split punt return duties, while Josh Scobey, Kevin Kasper and maybe Larry Foster will return kickoffs.