LaDainian Tomlinson knows it's not always easy to be the dad you aspire to be.
As the father of two kids ages six and seven, the NFL Hall of Famer and TCU legend knows balancing work and family can be tricky.
But trying to improve as a dad, if only a little bit, goes a long way, he said, especially for kids desperate to connect and learn from a strong role model in the family.
Tomlinson, along with TCU coach Gary Patterson, helped host All Pro Dad day on the TCU campus Saturday afternoon. The All Pro Dad program is a national non-profit organization aimed at bringing "intentional focus to fathers around the world."
"I think it's important to encourage fathers to have better relationships with their children and to just give them some tools so they can just be a little bit better," Tomlinson said. "We’re not asking them to be the best dad in the world — we would like that — we would all like to be the best dad in the world but it's just about teaching parents to be a little bit more engaged with their kids."
Tomlinson says he prepares breakfast for his kids every morning and says that's directly related to the discipline he learned from football.
"My ups and downs in football helped prepare me to be a father," he said. "But at the end of the day we only get a certain amount of time with our kids before they leave the house so take every opportunity to invest in them and help them realize their dreams."
Tomlinson always envisioned returning to the TCU area after his playing days were over to help give back to the community and to the school that helped him achieve greatness.
"It's the next step of leaving the legacy I want to leave, not just as a football player but being involved in the community and being an all-around balanced guy," he said. "That’s been my goal all along."
He credits Patterson for helping turn TCU's program into a national player.
"The greatest thing this university did was to hire Gary Patterson," he said. "He understood the kids we recruited and the chip on the shoulder mentality we had. It took a lot of great people to make that happen but Gary is first and foremost."
Patterson said Tomlinson's reconnection with the program since retiring from the NFL has been a huge benefit. Tomlinson became a member of TCU's board of trustees in April.
"You can’t put a price on LT being a part of our program," Patterson said. "Every running back who has come here has wanted to be the next LT."
But it's more than Tomlinson's legacy as a player, Patterson said, that has helped the program. He's an excellent role model for current players hoping to make it to the NFL. Tomlinson, as one of the best running backs in NFL and NCAA history, knows what it takes to succeed, on and off the field.
"I can’t give the wisdom of what he went through to be the player he was and live the life he did with all the temptations being in the NFL and being such a star that he was," Patterson said. "I know how to do it as a football coach on the college level. He lived it. So I've asked him 'What do I need to tell these guys that will help them?' We all learn from him, including me."