After 17 seasons in the NFL, veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, who guided the Indianapolis Colts to an AFC playoff berth, officially called it a career on Wednesday.
Rivers spent his previous 16 years in pro football as the long-tenured signal-caller for the Los Angeles Chargers. At age 39, he evidently saw now as the proper time to hang up his cleats.
Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the news of Rivers’ retirement, which comes as somewhat of a surprise despite his advanced age, considering the signal-caller had a resurgent 2020 campaign in reuniting with Colts coach Frank Reich. The Colts’ season ended on Super Wild Card Weekend in a tight, 27-24 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Here’s some of what Rivers had to say late Tuesday night from his home for Wednesday’ report about why retirement was the right choice for him, and what he plans to do next:
“It’s just time. […] I can sit here and say, ‘I can still throw it. I love to play,’ but that’s always going to be there. […] What has helped me come to this (decision) is the growing desire to coach high school football. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been growing. I can’t wait.
[…] This is the first year I felt like the ending was real. We talked about it other years, but we knew we weren’t doing it. This year felt different…It just seemed right.”
Rivers also released a statement to ESPN, per Adam Schefter:
Philip Rivers’ statement to ESPN is dadgum tremendous: pic.twitter.com/30KaEFGy0X— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 20, 2021
As the fourth-overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Rivers was involved in a draft day trade where the Chargers swapped quarterbacks, sending Eli Manning to the New York Giants.
Although Manning won two Super Bowls in New York, it says a lot that Rivers was able to beat out another reported, imminent NFL retiree in Drew Brees to be the Bolts’ long-term answer at the quarterback spot.
Rivers is currently fifth on the all-time passing yards list with 63,440, as well as touchdown passes (421). He began his time as a starter in 2006, and proceeded to make 240 consecutive regular-season starts, which is a testament to his toughness and sustained level of greatness.
The only thing that’s really missing from Rivers’ résumé is a championship, as he compiled a 5-7 playoff record and reached a conference title game only once. However, Rivers should be a Hall of Famer at some point, if not a first-ballot selection, due to his prolific accomplishments and longevity.
Drew Brees is retiring. Philip Rivers is retiring. So many of the great, old-guard QBs are stepping away… except Tom Brady, who will play in the NFC Title Game this weekend.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 20, 2021
Philip Rivers career:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 20, 2021
* 5th most passing yards ever: 63,440
* 5th most passing TD ever: 421
* 8X Pro Bowler
Perhaps most impressively: 252 straight starts. Never missed a game.
Rivers played through a *TORN ACL* in the 2007 AFC Championship.
Philip Rivers is a Hall of Famer. Congrats on an amazing career.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 20, 2021
And now add the Colts to the list of teams that need a starting quarterback for 2021. https://t.co/OoGJeWzW7s
2004 ▶️ 2020— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 20, 2021
A phenomenal career for Philip Rivers. pic.twitter.com/aDzY02NwP2
Always one of my favorite people to deal with, congrats to Philip Rivers. And now he's off to fulfill the other of his two dreams, and follow in his dad's footsteps as a high school football coach.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 20, 2021
Rivers will be HC at St. Michael in Fairhope, Ala. https://t.co/f8XiUlbfBR
Thinking about Sunday’s without Phil Rivers pic.twitter.com/herbytS29P— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) January 20, 2021
Philip Rivers is the second QB to pass for 4,000 yards in his final season.— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) January 20, 2021
The first was Andrew Luck, as a 29 year old. Rivers did it at 39.
Philip Rivers is one of my all-time favorite guys to interview. Class act. Great guy. Always insightful. If he goes into TV, he will be a star.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) January 20, 2021
Philip Rivers was so much fun to watch— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 20, 2021
He was also a warrior, never missing a start in his career, playing in 252 straight including playoffs
He tore his ACL in the 2007 playoffs, still beat Peyton Manning and started next week in a loss to the Patriotspic.twitter.com/IZPlAylxdN
With Philip Rivers retiring, that means the Colts will now have a fourth different starting QB in Frank Reich's four seasons:— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) January 20, 2021