November 1, 2011
By Tuesday Morning Tailback
I really hate San Diego’s quarterback Philip Rivers and have for a long time. In fact, last night was a fun night of schadenfreude as Rivers threw two early interceptions and then fumbled a snap late in the game that ultimately gave Kansas City the victory in a crucial divisional game. But in watching a true low point of Philip’s career, I’ve done a bit of reflecting as to why exactly I have such animus towards this football player.
Well, first there is the natural divisional rivalry. As a Broncos fan for nearly four decades, I have come to loath San Diego, Oakland, Kansas City, and (formerly) Seattle over the years. These feelings have come in waves over the years as certain rivals have gotten better during certain eras. In recent years, San Diego had come to dominate the AFC West as the rest of the division seemed to be on vacation. Further, the Chargers as an organization have come to be the ultimate symbol of ineptness and buffoonery in my mind. From trading up to draft Ryan Leaf in 1998, to firing Marty Schottenheimer after the 2006 in order to hire Norv Turner, who was a proven loser everywhere he was a head coach, to letting go of LaDanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles in recent years, the Chargers just seem to always get the big calls wrong. But this alone does not explain my irrational hatred of one player. No, there is a deeper reason – the NFL media.
For some reason, the sports media has chosen to absolutely worship at the Philip Rivers alter, making him the “crown prince” for the mantle of the next great quarterback before he had accomplished anything. After just five NFL starts, Rivers was named the second best NFL quarterback under 25 years of age by Sports Illustrated in 2006. Since then, the adulation has barely ceased, in spite of the fact that so many of his contemporaries have accomplished so much more.
Rivers was drafted in 2004 by the New York Giants. But he was traded to San Diego on draft day when their #1 pick, Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers. Analysts jumped on this odd contrast, many declaring that the Chargers had definitely gotten the better deal. Then Eli Manning won the Super Bowl. Rivers got the starting job after Drew Brees was traded to New Orleans and many of the same analysts said it was a smart move on the part of the Chargers. Then Brees lead the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2009. Over the past few seasons, as Rivers has had decent success, media personalities have gone way, way overboard to find new ways to admire him in an unseemly sort of verbal fellatio. Even as recent as last night, when ESPN was analyzing some the problems Rivers was having this year (he has 7 touchdowns with 11 interceptions), it seemed like each had to first stipulate what a “great” quarterback he normally is.
So is my hatred simply an unconscious reaction to this overblown hype? Perhaps. By all accounts, Rivers is a decent family man who married his high school sweetheart and has recently welcomed his sixth child into the world (all before the age of 30). He is also a very devout and active Christian. Although his on field personality comes off as sometimes immature and excuse-making, fellow and rival players usually say they admire his competitiveness and tenacity.
Bottom line is – in this deep, reflective examination of my own feelings of Philip Rivers, should I give him another chance and examine him fairly as a professional football player? No way! I hate his putrid guts!
Tuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.