Former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers announced his retirement Wednesday after 17 NFL seasons.
Rivers spent 16 of those seasons with the Chargers in San Diego and Los Angeles. He joined the Colts, helping them to a playoff appearance in his final season.
He released the following statement.
The 39-year-old Rivers set more than 30 franchise records with the Chargers, a team he led to six playoff appearances.
Rivers was known as a fierce competitor with a rare style of trash talk and outbursts devoid of cursing.
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“I appreciate the opposing defenses making it challenging physically and mentally every week. I also enjoyed the banter,” Rivers said in his statement. “I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!
“Thanks to the fans in San Diego and around the nation that both cheered and booed.”
Rivers had an unusual introduction to the NFL -- one that nearly had him playing on the other side of the country. The Chargers, then in San Diego, picked Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning at the overall No. 1. Manning was then traded to the New York Giants for their fourth-round pick, Rivers.
Rivers went on to play 235 games for the Chargers.
Rivers never played in a Super Bowl, one of the few glaring omissions on an otherwise remarkable resume.
Rivers spent his first two years in San Diego backing up Drew Brees before taking over as the starter when Brees left in free agency.
Over the next 15 years, Rivers never missed another game, starting all 252 including the playoffs. He even played on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the AFC championship game following the 2007 season.
"It's certainly important to me and I'm thankful that I've been healthy enough to be out there," Rivers said in November when asked about the streak. "I do think there is something about that availability, being there each and every week. Certainly, there are circumstances that you can't, but thankfully I've been able to. I think there is a fine line there. You don't just try to keep that alive to keep it alive."
But he was more than just dependable with his unusual, shot put-like throwing motion.
Rivers won 134 career games -- No. 2 among quarterbacks without a Super Bowl ring -- and is eighth all-time. Only Tom Brady (230), two-time Super Bowl champs Peyton Manning (186) and Ben Roethlisberger (156), Brees (172) and Hall of Famers Brett Favre (186), John Elway (148) and Dan Marino (147) won more regular-season games.
Rivers also finished his career ranked fifth in career completions (5,277), yards passing (63,440) and touchdown passes (421).
And he didn't slow down in 2020.
Instead, he played better the longer the season went -- perhaps not a surprise considering he joined a new team and had almost no offseason work with his new receivers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through Indy's first five games, Rivers threw five interceptions and four TD passes. Over the final 12, he had 22 TD passes and six interceptions. His completion percentage (68%) was the second highest of his career and he led the Colts to an 11-5 mark and their second playoff appearance since 2015 .
He did all of it while playing the final seven games with an injured toe on his right foot.
And yet as the former North Carolina State star continued his quest for that elusive championship season, Rivers had already been making plans for his post-playing days.
Last summer, he accepted the head coaching job at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama, where he hopes to coach his sons -- just like his father coached him.
"If (the future) is here, in Indy playing another year then we'll be here," Rivers said following the season finale. "If it's not I'll be on a sideline somewhere -- I know where -- I'll be on the sideline with a ball cap coaching the heck out of a high school football team down in south Alabama."
Rivers was selected to eight Pro Bowls and holds the Chargers' franchise records in every major passing category.