Sunday’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was a landmark moment for the San Diego Chargers’ two most popular players, quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates. The Chargers’ win signaled the end of a six-game losing streak. Philip Rivers became the 17th player to surpass 40,000 career passing yards and became the fourth-fastest player to accomplish the feat. With four touchdown passes in the game, Rivers leapfrogged Joe Montana and is currently in a tie with Vinny Testaverde for 11th place for career touchdown passes.
Not to be outdone, Rivers’ favorite target is rewriting the record books himself these days. The season began on the suspended list for Gates after testing positive for an unspecified performance-enhancing drug. Since returning, Gates has picked up where he left off, and to date has 33 catches for 371 yards and four touchdowns.
In the Jacksonville game, Gates caught two of Rivers’ four touchdown passes. In doing so, Gates passed Kansas City Chiefs great Tony Gonzalez into first place for most two-touchdown games from a tight end. Gates now has 21 such games and counting. Only nine receivers (wide receivers and tight ends) have over 100 touchdowns in NFL history. Gates sits in 7th place on that list.
Another mark Gates is chasing Gonzalez for is most touchdown catches from a tight end. Gonzalez leads the list with 111 touchdowns. Gates currently has 103. Had it not been for the suspension, Gates would have likely passed Gonzalez this season. Also worthy of note is Gonzalez has played four years longer than Gates has at this point.
While it’s still possible Gates could break the record this season, he would likely have to play one more season to set the new standard for tight ends. There has been no formal statement, but many expect the Chargers’ tight end to retire after the season.
Rivers and Gates are already the most prolific quarterback/tight end combination in NFL history, as they have connected for touchdowns 76 times counting the Jaguars game. Now in his 12th NFL season, Gates has more than cemented his place as a future Hall Of Famer. While we would love to see the pair ride off into the sunset together, Gates predates Rivers by one year and injuries have worn him down through the years. Gates is in the final year of his contract. It remains to be seen if he will return for another season or call it a career.
We have all been witness to a true rags-to-riches story. Antonio Gates arrived at Chargers Park in 2003 as an undrafted free agent. Chargers’ brass saw something special in the power forward — who led the Kent State Golden Flashes hoops team into the Elite Eight in the 2002 NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament. Gates was able to use his prodigious talent on the basketball court and translate it to football where he and Gonzalez revolutionized the use of the tight end in the passing game instead of predominantly as a blocker.
Twelve years later, he is arguably the greatest tight end to play the game. He has provided Chargers fans with countless jaw-dropping, show-stopping moments, keying many wins for San Diego. These may be the last five opportunities we have to see Gates in lightning bolts. Show him your support and wear the No. 85 with pride.
The Greg One
In Sunday’s game at Jacksonville, San Diego Chargers’ all-everything quarterback Philip Rivers accomplished a pair of milestones to add to a laundry list of other career achievements. Rivers recovered from a dismal showing against the Kansas City Chiefs where he managed a season-low 178 yards through the air and no passing touchdowns in the Chargers’ 33-3 loss. Sunday, Rivers looked and played like the elite quarterback we all know him to be. He threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns in the 31-25 Bolts’ win.
With two touchdown passes going into halftime, Rivers moved into a tie for 13th place with San Francisco 49er legend Joe Montana for career touchdown passes (273). With two more touchdown passes in the second half, Rivers moved into a tie with Vinny Testaverde for 11th place on the all-time touchdown passes list (275). With his next touchdown pass, Rivers will move into sole possession of 11th place, pushing Testaverde into 12th place.
Ironically, sitting in tenth place is a man Rivers is forever tied to in NFL and Chargers lore, class of 2004 draft mate Eli Manning. With 282 scoring passes, Manning is seven touchdowns ahead of Rivers. What makes the accomplishment even more impressive for Rivers is the fact that he’s ready to surpass Manning even though the New York Giants’ QB had a two-year head start; Manning started from day one with the Giants. Rivers sat behind Drew Brees and didn’t start for the Chargers until his third season in the NFL.
Rivers entered the game needing 134 yards to reach the 40,000-yard plateau. In doing so, he became the fourth-fastest to accomplish the feat in NFL history. This season alone, Rivers has surpassed Chargers great Dan Fouts, Sonny Jurgensen, Dave Krieg, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Montana on the all-time touchdown passes list. With five games remaining, he’s on pace to surpass Testaverde (275) and possibly Manning (282). Johnny Unitas (290) and Warren Moon (291) will fall to Rivers early next season, at the latest.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Rivers is an elite quarterback in this league. He is also the most taken for granted of the elite quarterbacks league-wide. The talking heads think there is room to debate whether Rivers is Hall-Of-Fame worthy. The accomplishments listed above should prove that he belongs in Canton, among his other achievements. The NFL and even a segment of Chargers fans don’t appreciate what the 33-year-old has accomplished in lightning bolts. He is a leader, a winner, an inspiration to all around him. Rivers ranks right next to Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers as the most cerebral quarterbacks in the league.
With the four-year extension Rivers signed this past offseason it ensures he will retire a Charger. We should all take the time to appreciate the brilliance this man shows us on a week-in, week-out basis before he’s gone and we all realize how good we had it when a rookie is trying to move the ball down the field for San Diego.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With the words of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers ringing in their ears, they know they have a choice to make.
To paraphrase, Rivers said he’s going to play out his contract, which concludes at the end of the upcoming season, and what happens next happens. He has no interest in playing in Los Angeles and he’s simply going to focus on this season. His decision to play any further for the Chargers rests on what happens with the stadium issue and relocation to Los Angeles.
What’s a front office to do?
The rumor mill has been abuzz with talk of the Chargers possibly trading Rivers to Tennessee in exchange for the number two pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, affording them the ability to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to be the new quarterback of the Chargers. Other rumors are circulating about Rivers being dealt other places and for any combination of picks and players but that’s all they are, rumors.
Would the Chargers front office really trade Philip Rivers?
We all know football is a business before all things. No player is untouchable. Anyone can and has been traded. All-time legends of the game like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, Ronnie Lott, Deion Sanders, Brett Favre and countless others all saw phenomenal careers end in a jersey other than the one they were drafted in. The Chargers are well within their rights to do their due diligence in searching out options in case Rivers decides to leave if the Chargers relocate.
Obtaining Mariota with the second pick and then a game changing running back like Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley with the 17th pick has to look attractive on many levels. It’s a hyper speed rebuild with the intent of keeping up with the Joneses (Denver) at the same time. The Chargers would be taking two of the most dominant players at their position in college football over the last four years, rolling the dice and hoping to come up roses.
Here’s the problem. They’re still rookies. It’s still too much to ask them to take on such a huge task and expect immediate results. Quarterback and running back are arguably the two most difficult positions to come in and be the day one starter. There will be growing pains. There will be flashes of brilliance some days and startling ineptitude in others until they adjust to the game at the NFL level and some gifted players coming out of college never do. Ask Johnny Manziel how easy it is to go from being a big shot quarterback in college to playing against NFL defenses.
That is the very reason San Diego should not entertain the thought of trading Philip Rivers.
Rivers is the face of the franchise. He is the Captain, the undisputed leader of the team. As he goes, the Chargers go. No team feeds off their quarterback more than San Diego. Rivers has been the consummate team player. Seemingly every offseason the Chargers revise his contract to free cap space to sign players and he does so without complaint. He’s the first man in the facility and the last to leave. Rivers is the player every man in the locker room, rookie or veteran, can look up to and draw inspiration from. Philip Rivers is the heartbeat and the soul of the Chargers and the San Diego fan base.
In the San Diego county, Rivers has made himself at home and become a pillar of the community. He is a role model. Never do you hear of him getting into trouble at the club, getting arrested, bashing media or rival players in social media or falling prey to any other trapping of success afforded to a multi-millionaire athlete. Rivers began a humble son-of-a-coach and has stayed that way. He comes with a blue collar mentality. A true grinder in every sense of the word, he shows up with the traditional lunch pail and hard hat in hand, leaves it all on the field and quietly goes home to his family at the end of the day.
If only more players would follow his example….
I feel a strong connection to Rivers on a number of levels. Being born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina I literally grew up on the N.C. State campus. I saw all of Rivers games at NCSU. There hadn’t been a successful quarterback out of N.C. State since Roman Gabriel back in the 60’s. Logically, Rivers became my favorite player and I was elated when the Chargers fleeced the New York Giants in the Eli Manning fiasco to bring Rivers to my favorite pro football team in 2004.
Few players are more fun to watch than Rivers. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He feels the way we feel sitting in the stands watching the action unfold before us. We live through him. Ironically, I have to admit, Marcus Mariota is my favorite college player since Rivers. Mariota shows the same poise, accuracy, score at any moment capability Rivers did in college. All eyes stay on him and he does not shy away from the big stage. Mariota is going to be an amazing pro and the Chargers have every right to wine and dine him and work him out. That being said, I don’t want Mariota if the cost is Philip Rivers.
It is alarming the Chargers haven’t made significant strides to assure the fan base that Rivers isn’t going anywhere. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. GM Tom Telesco has said he wants to do everything to make sure Rivers retires a Charger. We’re all wise to front office speak by now and what happens at the draft will speak volumes.
I will be attending the draft in person with my Rivers jersey on as it is every year on day one. A nightmare scenario will be hearing that the front office pulled the trigger and sent Rivers to Nashville. Soul crushing would be the phrase that comes to mind. I grew up a Chargers fan. I bleed Navy and Gold. I thought nothing would ever change my allegiance to the one team I hold on a pedestal above all others regardless of sport.
However, I find my faith has been shaken. I’ve honestly had to sit down and reevaluate my allegiance to the Chargers if a trade were to happen.
One man is not bigger than the team but Philip Rivers is the embodiment of the San Diego Chargers. A move like this would make me question the decision making of the front office. Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. Ask the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, Rams, Titans, Raiders how hard it is to find a quarterback you can rely on day in day out, year in year out. Once you get out of the top ten quarterbacks in the league every team remaining would give anything to have a signal caller as great as Rivers.
To trade Rivers means they have given up all hope on keeping him even if they have signed and sealed documents confirming a move to L. A. sitting on their desk. It means they’re not willing to exhaust all avenues to convince him to stay. I know a lot of this rests on Rivers shoulders also, he is not without blame in this. Philip has painted the Chargers front office into quite a corner. However, aside from Rivers himself coming out and telling the world through TV, newspaper or radio that he is asking to be traded will I be able to forgive the Chargers brass for letting him go.
What are the Lakers without Kobe? Nothing. What would the 90’s Chicago Bulls have been without Michael Jordan? Nothing. What are the Patriots without Tom Brady? Nothing. What are the Chargers without Philip Rivers?…
Would YOU remain a Chargers fan if Rivers gets traded Thursday?
After long thought on the matter I arrived at this conclusion: I have been a Chargers fan since day one and that was three and a half decades ago. The Chargers are part of who I am. I have seen them all come and go both ceremoniously and unceremoniously. I have seen good, bad and inbetween. Without the Chargers I am a man without a country sports-wise. There’s no NBA team, no baseball team, no college team aside from my Alma Mater, N.C. State, that I root for nearly as feverishly. Leaving my Chargers would be like losing a family member.
I’ve been in the trenches with this team too long. I’m past the point of no return with this team. I want my casket to be in Chargers colors and the date(s) we win the Super Bowl to be inscribed upon it. Love won’t allow me to leave but I understand more practical, less emotionally invested fans leaving the Chargers ranks over a move like this. Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to that.
The Greg One