Quarterback Philip Rivers rescues the Chargers again
SAN DIEGO – Just call him the fireman.
Whenever the San Diego Chargers are going through a rough patch and not playing well, quarterback Philip Rivers is the one who pulls them out of the doldrums.
Losers of eight of their past nine and playing in perhaps the team’s final game at Qualcomm Stadium, Rivers wouldn’t let the Chargers lose a franchise-defining game.
And he made sure to let his teammates know how important the moment was before they took the field and earned a 30-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
“It was a special day -- if it is the last one -- that was kind of what I told the guys before the game,” Rivers said. “They’ve been playing football in this town before any of us were born. There are people that are going to be at that game today that were coming to games before we were born.
“We get to close it out. If it is the end, we get to finish it off. Hopefully, the fans that have seen it over the years and the players that have played in there can be proud today that we at least ended it the right way.”
Rivers became emotional and teary-eyed when he talked to reporters after the game. Before that conversation, he spent at least a half hour signing autographs and talking to 5,000 or so fans that remained at Qualcomm Stadium to drink in what could be the final time their team plays there.
Rivers’ aw-shucks approach is what makes him so appealing for San Diego, and it’s why fans embrace him as the face of the franchise.
And he appreciates being San Diego’s quarterback, in the same wayPeyton Manning served as the face of the Indianapolis Colts and as Tom Brady does for the New England Patriots.
Rivers said he took his usual way into the stadium in his truck, honking at fans as he entered the stadium, stopping to sign a few autographs and giving them one last honk as he went to park his vehicle and go to the locker room.
That’s classic Rivers, who has an every-man approach to life and his surroundings.
“It truly is an honor to be a quarterback in the NFL,” Rivers said. “In the sense that when you’re a quarterback on a team in the NFL and you’ve been blessed enough as I have to stay in the same place for 12 years, you become the quarterback of that town.
“I remember watching Peyton Manning. His was way different. I’m not putting myself in his situation, but when he left the Colts, he was saying it was pleasure and that he’s really thankful and enjoyed being that town’s quarterback. That’s really what I’m feeling -- just how special it really has been. Hopefully it will continue. We don’t know that, so there’s only one way to treat it.”
Manning moved on to the Denver Broncos, but fans aren’t willing to hand Rivers over to Los Angeles if the Chargers move up Interstate 5.
Rivers is their quarterback. And the Chargers are their team -- at least for two more weeks.