Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich told The Athletic’s Zak Keefer that he believes that his new quarterback, Philip Rivers, intends to play multiple years in Indianapolis. How realistic is that?
The Indianapolis Colts selected a quarterback for the short-term future this offseason, signing 38-year old Philip Rivers, the long time San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers quarterback, to a one-year deal worth $25 million dollars this past March. The future hall-of-fame quarterback had arguably his worst season to date, as pass protection issues still proved to be a major factor in the Chargers offense, and injuries decimated the squad.
Philip Rivers is my long time favorite quarterback. Growing up, my family was very involved with a local homeschool group in the Huntsville, Alabama area. We lived just over the Tennessee border, so my family did a lot of things in that area. That’s really where my fandom for Philip started. I had several of his cards, and I had heard he was a good guy, but there was just something I always liked about him.
His mother, Joan, was involved in the homeschool group to some capacity as well. I remember the day that I met her very well, I was probably eleven or twelve years old. I had no idea who she was, or that she was even involved in the group. She approached me one day while I was wearing a LaDanian Tomlinson jersey to ask me if I was a Chargers fan.
I was honest with her. My parents had gotten the jersey for me for Christmas, and they had settled for a Tomlinson jersey because they couldn’t find a Rivers jersey to purchase. I told her I was a Philip Rivers fan and my favorite team was the Philadelphia Eagles. She asked me why I was a Rivers fan, and I told her it was because he was a great role model for people to look up to. “Yeah I know,” she said, “I’m his mother.”
To make a long story short, his brother, Stephen, and his sister, Anna, were involved in the homeschool group and we did things with them upon occasion. I met Philip when I was thirteen at a Catholic Mens Conference in Huntsville, where he gave a riveting speech about being a man and standing strong with God.
Rivers has always inspired me. I’ve always watched him with, and felt the pain that the Chargers put him through.
New Beginnings in Indianapolis
Philip Rivers spent a long sixteen seasons with the Chargers organization, and what a ride it was. He’s started the last 224 consecutive regular-season games, even playing with a torn ACL in the AFC Championship at the end of the 2007 season against the undefeated New England Patriots. Last season, Rivers struggled and looked to have lost a little bit of his touch, almost matching his career-high at 20 interceptions. At times, the Chargers offense was just bad. Watching them from last year, I don’t think it was all Rivers’ fault.
Rivers made it clear at the end of the season, with his contract expiring, that he wouldn’t be staying in Los Angeles. He moved his family to Florida.
Rivers ended up signing with the Indianapolis Colts, where he has a familiar face at head coach. Frank Reich was his offensive coordinator early in this decade in San Diego, and Rivers saw immense success under his tutilage, even leading the league in completion percentage in 2013. Reich was fired after the 2015 season due to a poor run game that caused the offense to struggle tremendously.
So far, Reich hasn’t had that problem in Indianapolis. The Colts have used a plethora of running backs to keep the backfield fresh and ample, and they’ve seen good success doing that.
High school football is in the future
Back on May 8th, Philip Rivers was named the coach-in-waiting at Saint Michael’s Catholic High School in Fairview, Alabama at a press conference held at the school. The plan is that when Rivers retires from his NFL career, he will immediately take over as the head coach at St. Michael’s and replace the interim head coach and athletic director, Paul Knapstein.
“I had two childhood dreams,” Rivers said at the press conference. “One was to play in the NFL, and I’m now going into my 17th season. The other was to be a high school football coach as my dad was. How blessed am I to be able to live both of those out!”
Rivers appears to be under no pressure to start that part of his career, and the school will wait him out as long as he decides to keep playing professional football. The schools principle, Faustin Weber, said that everything just worked out.
“It’s a wonderful story and you can only see the hand of God in that,” Weber said. “We liked each other instantly. I loved his vision of football and what he wanted to do as a head coach. We had no timetable on this. We talked about it as an abstract idea. When there was an opening, we thought about how it might work. We didn’t think it would be right to bring in an outside coach and just hold a spot. It all worked out.”
The high school launched it’s football program in 2016 under one of the more experienced high school coaches in Alabama, Scott Phelps. He has transitioned to an assistant-athletic director with the school.
“We don’t know that the future of this year is with the coronavirus,” Knapstein said. “We didn’t know when we would get a team this summer. At the same time, we had this relationship with Philip and we were just thinking, ‘What is our opportunity here?’ As we started working on it and thinking about it and talking to Coach Rivers, it just kind of materialized.”
Frank Reich’s comments to the Athletic
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, however, believes that Rivers could indeed end up staying with the Colts longer than one year.
“I can just tell you I really believe it’s Philip’s intent to play multiple years,” Reich said. “I’m very optimistic it will be a multiple-year thing.”
The Colts spent their first two picks in the NFL Draft, the 34th and 44th overall picks, on wide receiver Michael Pittman from USC and running back Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin. These are two offensive weapons that can contribute to the offense immediately. The offense has been reloaded with weapons. What does Philip think about the situation?
“I think it is a one year at a time deal,” he said. “You get to 38 and play as long as I have… I’ve expressed publicly and the Colts have said too they hope it’s more than one year. But we take it one year at a time. I love playing. When that time does end, you will get the same passion and work ethic at this school and community that I’ve poured into my career.”
What can we really expect from Philip Rivers beyond 2020?
All of this being said, Rivers is now 38 years old. He will turn 39 in December during the season. On a one year deal, with a fresh, promising rookie (Jacob Eason) in the wings, and a capable veteran on a contract for two more years (Jacoby Brissett), it looks like the end of Rivers career could be following the 2020 season.
How fitting would that be? To wear the #17 for the entirety of his career and to retire at the end of his seventeenth season? How amazing would that be if he left with his first Super Bowl ring?
Only time will tell. They oftentimes say you can’t script the incredible things that happen in sports.