“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
- “The Italian Stallion” – Rocky Balboa
Make no mistake, Chargers fans, Philip Rivers has been hit hard and often during his career, especially during this highly disappointing year. Ranking fifth in sacks endured, it is amazing that Rivers also ranks first in completions and third in passing yards.
What is it that makes him continue to compete without batting an eyelash? What makes a man take that many hits only to be standing and fighting as the final bell rings?
For Rivers, it’s not about padding his stats or earning personal accolades. He is a fierce competitor, and all he wants to do is win. Period.
Life, as most of us know, is a competition. In every aspect of our lives, we are in fierce competition.
That job that you want? Someone wants it more. That girl you want to be with? There’s another man out there wanting her, doing everything to the above-and-beyond level to win her over.
In both of those examples, the “other” guy will do anything he can to stop you in order to become victorious. There is no throwing in the towel for those wanting to succeed, no matter the opponent or the size of the hill to climb.
Remember the first Kansas City game when the Bolts lost 33-3? Did you see Philip’s eyes and body language in the waning seconds of that game? You would have thought the Chargers were only down by three points.
What about the time he played through a torn ACL in the 2007 AFC Championship against New England? With a temperature of 23 degrees at kickoff, and LaDainian Tomlinson on the bench, Rivers played through an injury that could have ended his career.
Any fan of any team, regardless if they dislike Rivers or not, respects him and his playing ability. He is out there day in and day out trying to improve.
Rivers could have easily laid down this season when the Chargers were 2-8. With his age and his contract extension, the coaches could have pulled him during that six-game losing streak, improving his chances to remain healthy for the current season and the future. I imagine Mike McCoy did not even address this with Philip, but could you imagine what he would have said if he was asked to sit? I believe he would have said something like what Apollo Creed told Rocky when he wanted to fight Drago:
“We always have to be in the middle of the action ’cause we’re the warriors. And without some challenge, without some damn war to fight, then the warriors might as well be dead..”
Abilities are not rewarded due to their virtue. Whatever admiration society awards us comes from the selfish perspectives of others. Chargers fans want wins, division titles, conference titles and, eventually, Super Bowl titles. Of course, the stats look great and his name among the leaders in those categories will undoubtedly ignite their support for Philip and their beloved Bolts.
However, his general attitude, competitive spirit and passion for the game seems to, at times, be forgotten when postseason aspirations are nonexistent. For some fans, getting the hardware and the ring seems to outweigh the individual’s determination and competitive spirit.
Rivers has never denied the fact that he wears his emotions on his sleeves. He doesn’t care that a defensive end has two inches and 100 pounds on him, Philip will bark right back at them. He certainly does not care that tears and surreal emotions restrained him from calling a play during this past game against Miami. Our beloved captain didn’t shy away from welled-up eyes and choked-back words during every post-game interview he participated in.
When his friend and former center Nick Hardwick asked him what his thoughts were when the Malcom Floyd tribute was playing, Rivers vocal chords trembled.
“It’s the people during those times is what you go back to. It’s the people, it’s you (Nick Hardwick) and so many for the last 12 years that have been a part of what makes it what it is. So that’s what started flashing (in his mind).”
There are two types of leaders: the silent type and the vocal leader. The silent leader is able to lead his teammates through example; his work ethic and the way he conducts his business day in and day out. The other type of leader is an emotional/vocal one, where teammates feed off of the energy. Often referred to as the “cheerleader” of the team, this type of player gets their fellow teammates riled up through speeches, rants, crazy dances and loud cheers.
Philip Rivers is an anomaly – he is both types of leaders.
In the same interview with Hardwick, Philip explains what he said to his team before they took the field on Sunday.
“They’ve been playing football in this stadium before we were alive, but we get to finish it. We get to, potentially, play the last one. Let’s do it right. Let’s make those guys who watched for 55 years, or the guys that have played here 30 years ago, let’s make them go, ‘They made us proud and finished it the right way.’”
Philip loves San Diego. He loves the city and being the quarterback of the Chargers. He loves the fans who have supported him and the team since his arrival in 2004. The bottom line is that Rivers wants to win and will fight for all sixty minutes.
So for those of you who will ask, “Why is he still playing?”
It’s because he is Philip Rivers.
He is the Chargers’ quarterback.
He is San Diego.
And he doesn’t lay down or quit……..ever.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott