Cry Me A River: Veteran NFL Quarterback Retires at Age 39

David Blais

Asst. Sports Director

Photo via NFL.com

One of the most underappreciated and talented quarterbacks in the past 20 years has retired - Philip Rivers. Rivers’ career spanned over three different decades with success in each one. His retirement came as no shock last week as the veteran quarterback had discussed the end of his career. The former Los Angeles Charger impressive statistics may even shock the biggest football fan.


Rivers was a star quarterback from North Carolina State University for four years. His time at the college was absolutely remarkable, almost breaking every record at the school and for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). He led the Wolfpack to four consecutive bowl games and only lost one during his tenure. Rivers threw for 13,484 passing yards and 95 touchdowns. In fact, Philip is 13th all time among Division I quarterbacks for passing yards. At his final home game, the school retired his jersey number because of all that he had done for the school.


Rivers was drafted fourth overall in the 2003 NFL draft by the New York Giants. The first overall selection in the draft that year was Eli Manning, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers. Manning’s disdain playing for San Diego was known and led to a trade which changed both of these men’s careers forever. The Chargers traded Manning to New York in exchange for Rivers still giving both men what they wanted. The other big name quarterback in this draft was Ben Rothlisberger, who was drafted 11th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers.


The 2004 Chargers quarterback depth chart is something of legend. The starter at the time was Drew Brees, who was about to play his third NFL season. His backup was legendary QB Doug Flutie, mostly known for his time with the New England Patriots. The third option was Rivers who would end up only playing within two games throughout the whole season. Drew Brees was named NFL “Comeback Player of the Year” and selected to the Pro Bowl roster. San Diego made the playoffs, losing in the divisional round to the New York Jets.


The following season he would move to second on the depth chart after the Chargers released Flutie but still was not good enough to beat out Brees of his starting job. Brees had a stellar season but then was injured in the final game of the season. He dislocated his shoulder after taking a hit from then Broncos safety John Lynch. The injury led to the Chargers not re-signing Drew Brees in the 2006 offseason in fear of him being injury prone. Rivers was then named the new starting quarterback for the team with fans and critics alike in glee due to his success in college. Sports Illustrated named Philip Rivers the “Second best quarterback under 25 years of age” after only five starts in his NFL career. The rest, as they say, is history.


Philip Rivers had a spectacular 15 seasons with the Chargers until 2019. He won a multitude of awards and records including a “Comeback Player of the Year” and being selected to the Pro Bowl an astonishing eight times. Rivers was the NFL passing yards leader in 2010, completion percentage leader in 2013, passing touchdown leader in 2008, and NFL passer rating leader in 2008. Rivers and the Chargers would not make a deal in the 2020 offseason leading him to sign a one-year 25 million dollar contract with the Indianapolis Colts. At age 39, he threw for over 4,100 yards and 24 touchdowns. He even led the Colts to the NFL Wild Card round in the playoffs but would lose to the Buffalo Bills. On January 21 of this year, Rivers announced his retirement from the NFL.


Rivers finished with 421 career passing touchdowns, 63,440 passing yards, and a 64.88% passing completed percentage. The legendary veteran was placed in the golden era of great future Hall of Fame quarterbacks within the NFL. Rivers may have never won a MVP award, or of course the big one, a Super Bowl, but fans critics should not hold that against him. The statistics he was able to put up in this golden era of quarterbacks is quite astonishing. Winning awards and having better stats then fellow QBs like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and ironically Drew Brees during multiple seasons should make him more than worthy to be selected into the Hall of Fame in the future. It would be a crying shame if he is not selected to be recognized in the Hall of Fame due to not having a Super Bowl ring. Many players in the hall do not have rings.


Rivers is going to spend his retirement being the head coach for the St. Michael Catholic High School football team located in Fairhope, Alabama hoping to coach one of his sons one day.


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