Because they never won anything, it’s easy to forget now how absolutely loaded the San Diego Chargers were in the mid-2000s. LaDainian Tomlinson. Drew Brees. Antonio Gates. They were sick.

Fueled by a steady diet of Tomlinson, the Chargers were a contender every year. They just never got over that final hump.

Well, the once-unstoppable running back says 2006—the year he won MVP—would have been the year if San Diego had not replaced Brees with rookie Philip Rivers.

“If Drew had been our quarterback [in 2006], we would have won the Super Bowl,” Tomlinson said, according to ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen. “There were a lot of circumstances that were in play—obviously, Drew’s injury right at the end of the [2005] season and the front office wasn’t willing to make the [financial] commitment to keep him… Philip hadn’t played enough to get it done at that time.”

The Chargers went 14-2 that year and fell to the New England Patriots, 24-21, in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Colts beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship and won the Super Bowl that year.

As Tomlinson acknowledged, there were a lot of layers involved in the decision to let Brees go. Brees wanted a lot of money, but the franchise had committed to Rivers as its quarterback of the future. In retrospect, that seems like neither a great nor terrible decision.

Brees did lead the New Orleans Saints to the 2010 Super Bowl, and Rivers has yet to make it past the AFC Championship. Brees is 37, and Rivers is 34. It would be surprising if either one stays in the league very much longer.

While this is newsworthy because LT came out and said it, no doubt there are some fans in San Diego who have been clinging to this idea for a decade.

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