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Lorenzo Neal recalls when Qualcomm Stadium became ‘place of pain’

SAN DIEGO – As we watch the stadium go down in Mission Valley, a lot of memories come up for fans and athletes who spent countless hours watching the Padres, Chargers and Aztecs play.

In tonight’s Stadium Stories, former San Diego Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal shares his recollections of the five seasons he spent leading the way for Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.

“I just think of that place, and when it started rocking, and ‘L-T, L-T’ chant came, it became a place of pain,” Neal said. “When you’re playing well and the Chargers are playing well, those fans love the Chargers.”

Neal played 16 NFL seasons on eight different teams after being drafted in the fourth round in 1993 by the New Orleans Saints. A bruising runner and a dominant blocking force in the backfield, he made the Pro Bowl four times and was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team along with Tomlinson and another Charger: future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates.

In San Diego, Neal said his favorite — and most embarrassing — memory came during the 2006 season when Tomlinson rushed for 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns in an MVP campaign.

SAN DIEGO – DECEMBER 17: Running Backs Michael Turner #33 and Lorenzo Neal #41 of the San Diego Chargers warm up before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs during their NFL game on December 17, 2006 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

“L.T. was getting to break the single season touchdown record (in 2006),” Neal said. “The place is just going crazy. I’m like, ‘this is going to be great.’ They call the play, I’m ready. I get out of my stance, I stumble. I remember like it was in slow motion. L.T. cuts on a dime, leaves 10 cents change, makes three guys miss and scores.

“The offensive lineman pick him up, and he points at me and winks and says, ‘I got you big fella.’”