SAN DIEGO — Reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson was among several San Diego Chargers players, coaches and staff members who had to evacuate their homes as wildfires burned in San Diego County.
The Chargers, who had just returned from their bye weekend, canceled practice Monday. Players were dismissed so they could take care of their families and because the air quality was poor due to smoke, spokesman Bill Johnston said.
As of late Monday morning, wildfires fanned by fierce desert winds forced the evacuations of nearly 250,000 people in the county.
There was no immediate word if any Chargers employees had lost their homes. Many players live in Poway and other suburbs northeast of downtown San Diego.
Tomlinson couldn't immediately be reached for comment. His mother, Loreane, said from Waco, Texas, that he called at 5 a.m. PDT and told her that he and wife were looking for a hotel. "I told him to keep me posted," Loreane Tomlinson said.
Center Nick Hardwick said players were asked at a team meeting to raise their hands if they were affected, "and at one point, three-quarters of the room raised their hands. I guess a lot of guys live up there. There were some pretty long faces this morning. A lot of coaches and people upstairs have to deal with this."
Hardwick lives in Point Loma, near the Pacific Ocean.
"It's pretty humbling, for sure," Hardwick said. "You've got guys with families dealing with real situations. You don't normally expect that coming to work. Normally, the worst-case scenario is when you miss a block or something, but if your house is burning down and you have to get your family out of the city, that's a different issue."
Hardwick said players heard there was a chance the team would practice at an out-of-town site, but nothing had been confirmed.
Johnston said it was too early to know if the fires will affect Sunday's scheduled home game against the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium, where the parking lot was being used as an evacuation center.
Four years ago to the week, the Chargers had to move a home Monday night game to Phoenix on short notice because the Qualcomm parking lot was being used as an evacuation center during deadly wildfires.
Tomlinson's business manager, Lamar Andrews, said he checked on the player at 5 a.m. and he and his wife had already left their home. Andrews said two other players he represents, safety Marlon McCree and linebacker Matt Wilhelm, also evacuated their homes.