Goodbye, Philip Rivers


Jim Rome
January 20, 2021 - 9:14 am
Philip Rivers

USA Today


Its official, he’s gone: Philip Rivers announced that he is retiring. He told the San Diego Union-Tribune “it’s just time” And then added “It’s just right.”

And it really is, on so many levels. Not just because of the career that he’s had, but because as he said in a separate statement: “Every year, January 20th is a special and emotional day. It is St. Sebastian’s Feast Day, the day I played in the AFC championship without my ACL, and now the day that after 17 seasons, I’m announcing my retirement from the National Football League. Thank you God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL.”

If you want a defining moment in his career, it was 13 years ago, when he played in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots just six days after having surgery to remove the ruptured ACL in his right knee.

Forget Willis Reed and talk about Philip Rivers. Because Rivers hobbling around the field, trying to find a win against the Patriots dynasty, when most other guys would be sitting, was iconic. He was dragging his leg around and trying to drag his team to a Super Bowl. 

And the fact that he never got to a Super Bowl sure as hell wasn’t due to a lack of personal talent, or skill, or effort. Or desire. Or passion.

That’s why I’m saying just start measuring him for that gold jacket right now, because there is no doubt he’s earned a spot in Canton. And not just a spot there, but on the first ballot. He retires as fifth all-time with more than 63,000 passing yards and 421 touchdown passes.

You want a guy you can count on to play, no matter what? Rivers is your man. Second only to Brett Favre in consecutive games started. Every Sunday, no matter the weather, no matter what was happening in the season, no matter what was happening with his body, 17 was going to be out there.

And he can still sling it. There is no doubt about that. Definitely not in his mind.

As he told the Union Tribune, “I can sit here and say, ‘I can still throw it. I love to play.’” There aren’t too many people who have played this game who loved it as much as Philip Rivers. In fact, there aren’t too many people who have done anything with more JUICE AND PASSION than Philip Rivers.

And as proof of that, check out his new job. He’s not going to sit on a beach, or in a studio somewhere, breaking it all down…. He’s going to be a high school football coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in Alabama. That is THE ABSOLUTE BEST.  HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE TO play high school football for Coach Philip Rivers? 

But let me get back to his retirement statement, because it is a beauty. It includes lines like:

“I appreciate the opposing defenses making it challenging physically and mentally every week…I also enjoyed the banter.”

Truth.  Fact. . Nobody, and I mean nobody, enjoyed the banter more than Philip Rivers. And nobody changed the banter game more than Rivers.

Four of the best words in the history of the NFL are: Philip Rivers, mic’d up.

When Philip Rivers was on the field and said, I’m mic’d today, you knew something good was going to happen.

You were going to get the iconic shout of “quit crying” that he directed at the Titans.

And of course, he’d mix in, a “dadgummit”

And you were going to get to hear him correcting the opposing defenses. As JJ Watt tweeted: I’ll never forget lining up for a play and Phil pointing to one of our linebackers and telling him he was lined up wrong based off the blitz we were about to run and being 100% correct about it haha.

One of the smartest I’ve ever played against and a hell of a competitor.

The only thing wrong with that tweet is the fact that Watt used the word “hell.” And smart man that he is, Watt corrected it with “heckuva” 30 minutes later.

Rivers certainly wasn’t shy about letting you know how smart he was and how much homework he’d done. He would correct you and your defense if you guys were wrong

 And if he didn’t like what he was seeing, he was going to let you know that too. 

That is probably the part of Philip that I’m going to miss the most. I’m going to miss the freaky throws, the unusual form, the facial expressions on the sideline, but really, most of all, I’m going to miss the dadgum trash talk.

Like… you know if something good just happened, he was going to let you hear about it.

And if he wasn’t breaking down the details of the play, he was just shouting one word.

Philip Rivers is one of one. And if you need further evidence of that, check this next part from his statement:

“I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!”

What a legend. What an absolute legend. Nobody else is working “dadgummit” into a retirement statement and they certainly aren’t doing it in a line about the officials. That is awesome.

And he wasn’t afraid to let the refs hear about it.

I’ll also interject from just a personal standpoint that I’ve really enjoyed talking to him over the years. For example, back in 2017, he talked about the role of being the face of a franchise and the responsibility that comes with that.

He never took any of it for granted and he has been a heck of a leader. And as proof of that, he closed out his statement like this: “Thanks to the fans in San Diego and around the nation that both cheered and booed. Special thanks to my teammates. Without a doubt my favorite part of the game, being a teammate. Thank you for being mine. Lastly, thank you to my wife and best friend Tiffany, and our children Halle, Caroline, Grace, Gunner, Sarah, Peter, Rebecca, Clare, and Anna. Could not have don’t it without y’all’s unwavering support. As my playing career comes to an end, the next chapter begins.”

It’s been an incredible journey so far, Philip. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Nunc coepi.