Philip Rivers is entering his 17th season in the NFL. Normally, there’s a routine. For many NFL players, routine is out the window this year as the pandemic has wiped away the entire preseason and many early workouts. For Rivers, it’s twice as bad. He played his first professional game with the San Diego Chargers and has been with the organization for 16 years. This season, he’s playing for the Indianapolis Colts. It’s a transition that’s been much easier for his nine children that it has been for him.
Philip Rivers spent 16 years with the Chargers
Philip Rivers was part of a draft class quality quarterbacks that ranked right up there with the 1984 class that included Dan Marino and John Elway, and Jim Kelly. Rivers was the fourth quarterback selected in 2004, taken by the New York Giants. Quarterback Eli Manning was the first player selected, picked by the San Diego Chargers. Manning said he wouldn’t play for the Chargers and the teams swapped quarterbacks.
Rivers spent the first two years of his NFL career on the bench as a backup to Drew Brees. Rivers became a full-time starter in 2006 when Brees signed a free-agent deal with the New Orleans Saints. He took full advantage of his starting role, guiding the Chargers to a 14-2 record. Rivers threw for 3,388 yards and 22 touchdowns and made the first of his eight Pro Bowls.
With the Chargers, Rivers never won the big game, never having even gotten to a Super Bowl. His numbers, however, were very good. In 2008, Rivers led the NFL in touchdown passes with 34. In 2018, he led the league in passing yardage with 4,710. He had the highest completion percentage among quarterbacks in 2013 (69.5). Since 2006, Rivers has never missed a start and has thrown 411 touchdown passes, including the playoffs.
Rivers and the Chargers part ways
At the end of the 2019 season, Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers mutually agreed Rivers would not return for a 17th season with the team. Rivers hit free agency for the first time and signed a one-year deal worth $25 million with the Indianapolis Colts.
“Philip is one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the NFL and we are fortunate to add an experienced player of his caliber to our organization,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said, according to CBS Sports. “His familiarity with our coaching staff and offensive system in addition to his experience were attractive qualities during our evaluation process. Philip is a fierce competitor and his veteran leadership will be crucial in the continued development of our young roster.”
The Colts were in the market for a quarterback after former No. 1 pick Andrew Luck shocked the NFL world and abruptly retired in 2019. Jacoby Brissett, who took over for Luck, struggled down the stretch for the Colts. Brissett failed to throw a touchdown pass in the Colts’ final three games. He also never threw for more than 200 yards during that stretch.
The transition was tough for Rivers, but not for his nine kids
Change can be tough. Philip Rivers’ transition from the Chargers to the Colts was admittedly difficult for him. It wasn’t nearly as bad for Rivers’ nine children. “You’re thankful for it as a dad, just their loyalty to Dad, it almost went so far immediately anti-Chargers, all-Colts in an instant,” Rivers said, according to AL.com.
“And I was like, ‘Guys, you don’t have to have disdain for the Chargers. It was a great 16 years there. We still love the guys, the players, the coaches that we’ll still be in touch with, so you can still pull for them to do good. But, yes, the Colts are our new team.’ They had no problem shifting over. Certainly their favorite players, the boys will still pull for them and love those guys that they met and those guys that were good to them over our time out there. Yeah, they made the adjustment pretty quick.”
With training camp becoming more virtual in 2020, Rivers needed more time to adjust to his new surroundings. “I guess a little bit felt like a Colt early on and felt like it was real,” Rivers said, “but really not so much until I pulled in here. Pulled in here July 24 or whenever it was, we could get in the building, the early reporters. You walk into the locker room and see your locker and actually meet guys in person. …That part was weird that it wasn’t until July. And then you get here, and you put on your game uniform for some photo stuff and then it’s like, ‘Man, this is real.'”