One of my favorite players of all-time is the bolo tie wearing cowboy, Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. He has had a controversial career thus far and has seen a lot of negative backlash from his misunderstood actions on Sundays. After a Week 15 upset victory over the Denver Broncos, Rivers explained that his love for football fuels the energy we see him act out with on game day. I did not need to hear that from Rivers to know exactly why he does what he does. His passion for the game has always shined through to me. I could never understand how anyone could mistake his love of football for arrogance.
Rivers is not close to being your new school hybrid quarterback. He is your old school, tough it out type of player who probably enjoys throwing the ball around in the backyard just as much as he does doing so in the NFL. His counterpart this Sunday will be Peyton Manning, who isn’t just another opponent in Rivers’ path to the Super Bowl; he is also his favorite quarterback of all time. It makes the game that much more enjoyable for him. Rivers has a good record against Manning and is actually one of four quarterbacks in history with a winning record against the four-time league MVP, who is well on his way to winning his fifth award.
Rivers has led the Chargers in two playoffs wins over Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. One win placed the Bolts in the AFC Championship game where they would ultimately meet their demise in the hands of the New England Patriots. Rivers and the Chargers could find themselves in a very familiar situation if they come out on top this Sunday. Tom Brady is home against the Colts and has a chance to meet the Rivers head on next week. Either way, we have a group of very talented quarterbacks who are very familiar with each other and have a mutual respect for one another. A questionable season full of uncertainty for teams with high hopes has come down to a competitive battle for all the marbles.
Most would bet against Rivers to be the last QB standing when the smoke clears, but I would not be so quick to think so myself. He has been here once before and knows exactly what is at stake when you are up against Manning in a big game. If there is one person that deserves a shot to knock off Manning and Brady in back-to-back weeks it’s Rivers. I am sure he is more than ready to take the challenge head on. He is the type of player to want to earn it the toughest way possible if he has to. That way no one has a reason to make any excuses.
Unbelievably, Rivers is in the right position to pull his team to the Super Bowl. He is his own worst enemy right now as his team continues to improve each week. It will all come down to what he is able to do with his arm on Sunday. He controls his own destiny, and I doubt he is ready to go out without a fight. As good as the remaining quarterbacks are in these playoffs, Rivers can be just as good if not better on any given Sunday. With just a few games remaining to the promised land, Rivers is at his best and poised to make one of the most memorable and improbable runs in NFL history.