I know, I know. Another article about the Chargers leaving and why you should or shouldn’t root for them. Well, this article is a little different for one reason: Philip Rivers.
The kid from Alabama, who was traded to the Chargers on draft day, quickly became one of the most adored San Diegans of his era. You all remember the humbling that the Manning family put on the Chargers on draft day. Who would’ve thought that exact incident would turn into so many up and down years for the Chargers. A franchise quarterback traded for a man who would help shape the culture of an entire fan base.
For the couple of you that somehow don’t know, here’s the story:
The Chargers drafted Eli Manning with the first overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft. Prior to the draft, Manning and his daddy notified the Chargers that Eli would refuse to sign with the team if they drafted him. However, the Bolts decided to do this anyway and it was clear that Eli did not want to be drafted by the team. The New York Giants had the fourth overall pick, in which the Chargers informed them to draft Philip Rivers if they wanted to trade for Eli Manning. Chargers head coach at the time, Marty Schottenheimer, coached Rivers in the Senior Bowl and loved what he saw. So, as the legend goes, the teams swapped quarterbacks and all was well.
Well, I mean, all wasn’t really that well. Like many other first round picks by the Chargers, Philip Rivers had a contract holdout that didn’t actually bring him to the team until the last week of training camp. This put him as the third-string QB, behind Drew Brees and Doug Flutie on the Chargers’ 2004 roster. In 2005, after Doug Flutie was released, Rivers was promoted to back-up quarterback, behind Drew Brees.
In the final game of the 2005 season, Brees went down with a shoulder injury, putting Rivers in the game late in the second quarter. And thus, a new era began. He finished the game with 115 yards, completing 12 of 22 passes with one interception and two fumbles. The Chargers lost this game 20-7, but Rivers led the team on their only scoring drive of the game.
I could go on to talk about Philip Rivers long list of accomplishments and franchise records that he holds. But that’s not what this article is about. This article is why I, and you, should root for the Los Angeles Chargers to win. The reason is simple: Philip Rivers, a through-and-through San Diegan, and he deserves to win.
Most players will be taking that “one hour” move up the 5 freeway this summer in order to make life a little easier for themselves. But Philip Rivers, the man who spent the last 13 years in San Diego, is deciding to commute to L.A. from San Diego. He joins San Diego radio often, and defends San Diegans who are hurt by the move. Of course he hopes for us to remain fans, but he understands and respects everyone’s opinions. That’s who Phil is. if you listen to the XTRA 1360 or Mighty 1090 AM radio channels, then you’ve heard the interview with Rivers getting choked up when talking about having to leave San Diego. His heart is as big as the city.
He built a foundation here in the city, the River of Hope Foundation, which is dedicated to helping foster children. The foundation has raised over $1,000,000 for the San Pasqual Academy (an education campus specifically designed for foster teens) with the help of football camps, fun runs, and personal donations from Philip Rivers himself.
You can ask almost any defensive player on any team in the NFL who is the best trash talker, they will tell you Philip Rivers. If you ask them who the most passionate player in the NFL is, most will tell you Philip Rivers. You’ve seen it yourself. Jawing at defenders who are complaining. You’ve even seen him jaw back at fans. You all remember the divisional game against the Colts so many years ago. You see it in his eyes when he loses and you feel his pain when he’s standing on the sideline. As a playoff game winds down and the Chargers aren’t the victors, you feel his pain. He feels the same pain the fans feel four times over. He has passion.
Philip Rivers was the guest on the Darren Smith show Monday morning. He and Darren were discussing Russell Westbrook and his response to a media member trying to separate him from the team. The conversation led to the discussion that the star of a team usually has to carry the burden of a tough playoff loss. He said a lot of times the blame gets put on him when the team loses. He response to that specific situation was that he takes that responsibility and feels the exact same way. When the fans get on Twitter and curse at him and tweet out #TradeRivers after throwing a game losing pick-six, he not only accepts the blame, but feels the same way. Because that’s who Philip Rivers is.
So whether you swear off the Los Angeles Chargers, or you still aren’t even sure what to do, think about Phil. When you ask yourself at the start of the season whether you should root or boo the team, think of Philip Rivers. The man of integrity, the man who has dedicated 13 years of his life to the County of San Diego. The man who brought loud mouth, confident football to Mission Valley every Sunday. The same man who made a playoff run on two torn ACL’s. The one who will dedicate the Lombardi Trophy to San Diego if he can get himself to that point. He is the reason you shouldn’t hate-watch the Chargers this season. He is the reason I will be quietly pulling for the Chargers to have a successful season.