Many believed that Philip Rivers and the city of Los Angeles would be a bad match. The Chargers quarterback is known to be a devoted and conservative family man. Fans worried that he was less-than-excited about his team’s move from San Diego to Los Angeles. Could this become a potential problem?
It’s worth noting that Rivers has enjoyed much professional success in San Diego. He is a six-time Pro Bowl selection. He is the second-longest tenured player on the Chargers’ roster – having joined the team one year after tight end Antonio Gates. Since taking over as the Chargers signal caller in 2004, Rivers has led the team to four AFC West Division titles, including a trip to the AFC Championship Game in 2007.
In addition, he and his wife Tiffany have raised their eight children in San Diego. He has a deep connection to the city both as a resident, and a citizen. He also happens to be its most famous and recognizable professional athlete. Therefore, it’s no wonder why Rivers would have reservations about having to leave the city that has embraced him for the past 13 years.
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A Hollywood Ending?
Despite their concerns, however, it appears that Chargers fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Philip Rivers is just fine with coming to Los Angeles and wants to end any lingering doubts.
This past May, the Chargers quarterback dismissed rumors that he was unhappy with his team’s relocation and wanted a trade. In front of a live crowd of Los Angeles media members, Rivers declared that he has “every expectation” that he will end his career with the franchise, by saying:
“I don’t know where it came from. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have been up here the last few days. I am here. I’m committed to this team and this organization. I am excited about what’s ahead. I’ve got to embrace it, be myself, give them everything I’ve got, like I have the last 13 years down in San Diego.”
The Chargers success under Rivers has been clearly evident throughout most of his career. However, they have suffered back-to-back difficult seasons, and have recently struggled to surround their quarterback with the requisite talent to compete at the highest level. To make matters more problematic, rumors suggest that highly-touted rookie may need back surgery to repair a herniated disc. Williams has since denied these claims as ‘false.’ However, one has to wonder whether the injury could become a factor in the Chargers hopes at contention this season.
The Chargers are also smart enough to realize that they will usually have the chance to be a contender every season, as long as Philip Rivers is under center. Having a prolific passer like Rivers every year makes them competitive, even considering the recent coaching carousel in San Diego for the past few seasons.
That’s what makes the rest of the AFC West a bit nervous about Rivers’ most recent statement. When asked about his future plans for playing in the City of Angels, Rivers seemed committed for the foreseeable future. In fact, he expressed optimism for being the Chargers starting quarterback when they open a new stadium in Los Angeles (which they will share with the LA Rams in Inglewood) in 2020.
“I hope to still be playing football in 2020, and certainly I hope I’m still playing here,”
Rivers said. “So yeah, I hope to get to see that stadium then. That’s a long way out. I’ve learned to just take them one year at a time and one game at a time at this point. I’m certainly thankful I’ve been able to be out there for all of them since 2006. I don’t take that for granted. And hopefully I’m still playing well enough and we’ve won enough football games that I will be able to trot out there in 2020 in that new stadium.”
Bolt Up in 2017
The Chargers seem to be on the brink of competition again. New addition Joey Bosa has the potential to be an elite defender. They have good young talent at cornerback, linebacker and the defensive line. If Williams, and returning target Keenan Allen can stay healthy, the Chargers look capable of pulling off an upset in a competitive division.
However, let’s face it. The Chargers prospects most prominently rest on the shoulders of their quarterback. Rivers will turn 36 in December. However, it is not unprecedented for a quarterback, near age 40, to play at a high level. It just happens that a guy named Brady is doing just that in New England, right this minute. Will Rivers make this his own reality? It’s definitely possible.
In a city known for its fantasy, the reality for its newly-acquired Chargers franchise is hardly bleak. This season, Rivers looks poised to put up the elite statistics he perennially tends to do. He has thrown for over 4,000 passing yards in the last four seasons. He did so despite the Chargers missing the playoffs in six of their last seven. Perhaps new surroundings can help to change that script? One thing is for sure. The Chargers, the City of Los Angeles and Rivers appear to be on the same page. Chargers fans will take it, and hope for the best in 2017.