Sunday will be the Los Angeles Chargers’ last game at Dignity Health Sports Park. Philip Rivers earned so much better than this dysfunctional organization.
It’s been a great ride with Philip Rivers as the Chargers starting quarterback.
He’s one of 10 passers to throw for over 50,000 yards in a career, he has been named to eight AFC Pro Bowl rosters and has quarterbacked the Chargers to six playoff appearances since 2006. But at 38 years old, his time has about run out in the NFL.
Sunday afternoon will mark the final game the Chargers will play at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. After playing second fiddle to the LA Galaxy of the MLS in their soccer stadium, the Chargers will venture up to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California and now play second fiddle to the NFC’s Los Angeles Rams. Who is to say Rivers will be joining the Bolts in a new stadium?
Rivers will have a bust in Canton one day and will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to have never won a Super Bowl, or even play in one. He has eclipsed Dan Fouts as the best Chargers quarterback of all time and has been a model of consistency in one of the most chaotic franchises in the AFC for well over a decade.
The Chargers failed him. He deserved so much better than this.
After being traded to San Diego for Eli Manning in the 2004 NFL Draft, Rivers would back up Drew Brees on the Chargers roster for his first two years in the league. Once Brees was out of town and on the New Orleans Saints in 2006, all Rivers did in his first year as the starter was go 14-2, throw for 3,388 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions and make his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
No, it did not matter that his running back in Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson was NFL MVP, because the Chargers lost in the AFC Divisional Round to the New England Patriots by a field goal, ownership fired head coach Marty Schottenheimer after going 14-2 during the regular season. You cannot make this stuff up.
Enter Norv Turner as Schottenheimer’s replacement, who only had one losing season in his six years in San Diego. After going 5-5 to start the 2007 NFL campaign, the Chargers won the AFC West yet again after rattling off six straight regular-season wins to end the season. San Diego won two playoff games and got to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1994.
Playing on a torn ACL, Rivers and the Chargers would lose by nine points to the then-undefeated New England Patriots in Foxborough. That was Rivers’ best and only shot at getting to the Super Bowl. After two more years of winning the AFC West, the Chargers haven’t hoisted a division banner since 2009 and have only made the AFC playoffs twice in the last decade.
The shame in it all is almost all the Chargers’ relative postseason success came before Rivers’ 30th birthday. He hasn’t missed a game for the Chargers since he took over for Brees full-time in 2006. Rivers has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns every season, made the Pro Bowl every other year and has been a cornerstone every franchise would love to build around.
For a guy who is seen as a quarterbacking legend in the NFL has seen his dysfunctional franchise leave San Diego, lose all of its fans in the process, move to Los Angeles where nobody likes them and play in somebody else’s soccer stadium in front of 95-percent fans of the other team. It has been an absolutely disgraceful end to one of the best pure passer’s careers we’ve ever seen.
Though we can only speculate, this could be the last “home game” Rivers ever plays in. He has a road date with the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead next week. On Sunday afternoon, it’ll be a home game for the Silver and Black, whose Oakland Raiders just saw their team play their final game in the Bay Area last week before moving to Las Vegas full-time in 2020. It’s just so wrong.
Los Angeles will almost certainly be drafting Rivers’ replacement in the upcoming NFL Draft. He may have no interest in joining the team up in Inglewood in 2020. Rivers already commutes two hours both ways from San Diego to still be a part of this team. He’s been a great team guy for them for nearly two decades, but every man has his breaking point. We’re at the boiling point now.
Seemingly every other NFL franchise would have cherished the last decade-plus with a man like Rivers playing quarterback for them. They would have won divisions, made wild card spots and even contended for the Super Bowl. All we are left with is wondering if things could have been different if Manning didn’t force his way out of San Diego and Rivers stayed in New York.