At the end of the day, it was 17 for 17.
After 17 seasons in the NFL, quarterback Philip Rivers decided that the number he proudly wore during the duration of his career would also suffice to define the longevity of his career. On Wednesday, the former San Diego/Los Angeles Charger and Indianapolis Colt announced his retirement from the NFL.
Through a medium and region which had both his trust and loyalty, Rivers told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, “It’s just time. It’s just right.”
Rivers first entered the NFL as the fourth overall draft pick by the New York Giants in 2004. However, the North Carolina State product was swiftly traded to the Chargers as part of a trade that also involved first overall selection Eli Manning.
After beginning his pro career as a backup, Rivers would finally take the reins as the Bolts starting quarterback in 2006. During his tenure, the team made the playoffs in six of 14 seasons, including the first four of his career. He also helped the Colts reach the playoffs in his lone season with the club in 2020.
Rivers’ dedication to his profession and his team were evident each time he took to the field. However, he also showed that same sense of care and devotion off of the field, as well as in his personal life as well.
In 2011, Rivers was named one of three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his work with the Rivers of Hope Foundation, which he and his wife Tiffany oversaw from 2010 to 2012 to help foster children. The Foundation raised more than $1,000,000 for the cause through football camps, a 5K Fun Run and personal contributions from the Rivers family. The Foundation also supported the San Pasqual Academy, a residential education campus designed specifically for foster teens.
For Love of Team and Family
Perhaps the greatest example of Rivers’ resolve became evident in 2017. Shortly after the Chargers’ franchise made the move to the Los Angeles area, Rivers and his wife Tiffany considered moving closer to the general vicinity of the team’s new Costa Mesa practice facility. In the final analysis, the Rivers’ did not want to relocate their children and decided not to move. Still, the Bolts’ starting quarterback knew that he had obligations to his team, as well as his family. He would reconcile his obligations by making the decision to commute between Los Angeles, and his family’s home in San Diego. In order to make the 80-mile (130 km) one-way commute productive, he spent roughly $200,000 to convert a large SUV into a rolling film room. The rear seats were torn out and replaced by two forward-facing, fully reclining seats; a 40-inch (100 cm) TV screen was installed in the cabin divider; and satellite TV, Wi-Fi, and a cooler were also installed. The setup, including a driver that Rivers hired, allows him to analyze game videos during the commute.
As he would detail to Acee, in yet another exclusive interview, Rivers offered his feelings on his decision:
“My two biggest things were my family time and my preparation and what I owe this football team. I was not going to sacrifice either of them in any big proportion. I can look at all the pluses and minuses and say, ‘OK. This does it.’ This allows me to get home in the 6 to 7 hour, which is when I got home the last 11 years, and it allows me to watch all or more of the film I watched before.”
As he prepares to enter the next phase of his life, much debate will circulate regarding Philip Rivers’ worthiness of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While his career resume will remain devoid of an MVP Award or Super Bowl Championship, Rivers retires as an eight-time Pro-Bowler, ranking fifth in career passing yards (63,440) and fifth in passing touchdowns (421.) All in all, he appeared in 244 regular games over the course of his career — the final 240 of them without interruption; the second longest streak by an NFL quarterback behind Brett Favre’s record of 297 — as well as twelve playoff contests. In his lone apparenace in an AFC Conference Chapionship game, Rivers played through a torn ACL in their 2007 loss to the New England Patriots.
While many face uncertainty in their post-football endeavors, Rivers’ plans demonstrate that he remains dedicated to the game. He reaffirmed his intentions to become the head coach of the St. Michael Catholic High School football team in Fairhope, Alabama.
“What has helped me come to this is the growing desire to coach high school football,” he told Acee and the Union-Tribune. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been growing. I can’t wait.”
Despite often being overshadowed by his peers, Philip Rivers was one of the most effective, durable and successful quarterbacks of his generation. Whether enshrinement in Canton is in his future is likely a conversation for a later day. In the meantime, the heading reads “charge complete” on the NFL career of Philip Rivers. Congratulations to number 17 on a great one.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots, the AFC EAST and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC