This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December used to hold such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that makes it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.
Dec. 23: Philip Rivers
As part of a fifth-grade project, our very own QB, Philip Rivers, had to make a poster about his dreams and aspirations. On the poster, he pasted his face over that of a Minnesota Vikings player who had appeared on a cover of Sports Illustrated.
Rivers has worn the number 17 jersey since the ninth grade. He does this in honor of his father, who wore the same number in high school. After his dad earned the head coaching job at Athens High School, Philip joined the team. Rivers' first start in an official game came in the seventh grade, in 1994. He would not see the bench again until his rookie season in the NFL. As Rivers’s senior season unfolded, he established himself as the best prep passers in the state of Alabama. Although he had offers from Auburn and Alabama, neither projected him as a starting quarterback. Rivers rejected them in order to go to a program where he would have more playing time. The first college to seriously recruit Rivers as a quarterback was North Carolina State. It was there where he first made a national name for himself.
During his collegiate career, Rivers shattered almost every NC State and ACC passing record. His career culminated with an NCAA-record 51 consecutive college starts. The Wolfpack went to four consecutive bowl games under Rivers, winning three of them. Philip Rivers finished his career at NC State with 13,484 passing yards, 4th all-time among Division I-A quarterbacks (he was 2nd at the end of his collegiate career). He also threw 95 touchdown passes, which ties him for eighth all-time. Rivers' number was retired before his final home game at North Carolina State.
The pre-draft consensus was that Rivers could be selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 11th pick. The Chargers coveted Eli Manning and wanted to select him with their first round pick, which was also the first overall pick of the draft. However, after Eli Manning indicated before the draft that he would not sign with the Chargers, the Chargers were forced to adjust their plans. Rivers was their first alternative to Manning because the Chargers head coach at the time, Marty Schottenheimer, had coached Rivers at the Senior Bowl and he liked what he saw from him. The Chargers agreed to a trade on draft day with the New York Giants. Manning was selected by the San Diego Chargers then later traded for Rivers, selected with the fourth pick by the Giants. The Chargers also received draft picks from the Giants that were used to select future Pro Bowlers Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding. In the end, it was a pretty good trade!
Pretty, Pretty Good Highlights:
- In the 2007 AFC Championship Game, Rivers was lauded by his teammates and the press for playing the entire game with a torn ACL, which later required surgery and was ranked among the “NFL Top 10 Gutsiest Performances.”
- In 2010, Rivers led the league in passing yards, throwing for a career-high 4,710 yards - 10 yards more than second-place finisher, Peyton Manning.
- On September 20, 2015, Rivers threw his 255th touchdown pass as a Charger, passing Dan Fouts as the franchise leader in touchdown passes.
- On October 18, 2015, in a game against the Green Bay Packers, Rivers set franchise records for passing yards (503), completions (43), and attempts (65).
- On October 13, 2016, Rivers passed Fouts to become the Chargers' all-time passing yards leader.
Gosh-Darned Sweet NFL records:
- Completion percentage (83.3%) in a 400+ yard passing performance (9/29/09 vs Dallas Cowboys).
- Consecutive games with 400 yards passing: 2 (2013; tied with 9 others)
- Touchdowns between a single quarterback and tight end: 85 (to Antonio Gates)
- Consecutive games with a passer rating above 120: 5
-Jason “Enjoy the Good Times” Michaels