It seems we have heard the last of Philip Rivers and his legendary trash talk, with the veteran quarterback announcing his retirement in a statement released on Wednesday after 17 illustrious years in the NFL living out his “childhood dream.”
Rivers decided to announce his retirement on January 20th for two reasons: it was the Roman Catholic Church’s feast day for Saint Sebastian (the patron saint of athletes) but it was also the 13th anniversary of the day Rivers gutted it out and played in (and lost) the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots with a torn ACL.
“Every year, January 20th is a special and emotional day,” Rivers said. “It is St. Sebastian’s Feast day, the day I played in the AFC championship without an 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.
“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.”
The 39-year-old played his first 16 seasons in San Diego and then Los Angeles for the Chargers as the face of their franchise before parting their company for one last ride with the Indianapolis Colts this past season that fell short with a Wild Card Weekend loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Rivers goes down as one of the most productive and successful quarterbacks of the past two decades, though his lack of playoff success could (but shouldn’t) hold him out of the Hall of Fame.
The NC State product ranks fifth all-time in passing yards (63, 440) and passing touchdowns (421) behind only Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Brett Favre in both categories. The Decatur, Alabama native also holds the NFL records for consecutive completions (25, tied with two others) and touchdown passes between a QB-TE combo (89, with Antonio Gates).
The man with the big—but clean—mouth and the most unique and comical throwing style in the game was also something of an iron-man, playing in all 252 possible games after sitting for his first two seasons behind Drew Brees.
Rivers went on to win 134 regular season games, behind only seven other QBs and second among those who never won the big one. And if there’s one argument you can make against Rivers, it’s that he was unable to get over that hump in the playoffs, failing to reach a Super Bowl in 17 seasons and going 5-7 in the playoffs.
Not only was bolo tie Phil one of the most prolific signal callers of this new millennium, but he was arguably the best trash talker of his day despite playing at quarterback (where you don’t often find a ton of big trash-talkers) and refusing to throw curse words into his little black book of smack talk. “Dadgummit,” “Golly,” and “Shoot,” were just a few of his greatest hits, and there were a ton more during his many heated on-field conferences.
Rivers showed that he still had some gas left in the tank in 2020, throwing for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns as he led the Colts to the playoffs. Head coach Frank Reich recently said that he’d like the quarterback to stay, but there was no convincing Rivers, who had already accepted a job to be the head coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama where he’ll hope to coach his two sons, just as his father coached him.
“I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season,” Rivers said in his statement. “Thank you to all my coaches that helped me grow as a player and person. Thanks to the support staff. I appreciate the opposing defenses making it challenging physically and mentally every week. … I also enjoyed the banter. I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!”
Rivers came into the league as part of the legendary 2004 NFL Draft class that saw two other likely HOF quarterbacks—Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger—drafted alongside him, though Rivers will finish his career as the only one without a Super Bowl ring. It seems this is truly the end of an era, with Manning already having called it quits, Rivers following suit, and Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger likely to do the same in the coming weeks or months, if not by next season.
It looks like Aaron Rodgers and Brady are the last two of that era, though they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers will host Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, with the Pack boasting -182 odds (Betway) to win and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.