While the world awaits what’s expected to be a retirement decision from Drew Brees, another NFL legend has opted to make his decision quickly. Philip Rivers, 39, recently noted he’d consider retirement but was also open to returning to the Indianapolis Colts for a second year, if they’d have him. Just over one week after being eliminated from the playoffs at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in an AFC wild-card game, Rivers is instead going to hang up his cleats — he told The San Diego Union-Tribune — ending a 17-year NFL career that will potentially one day see him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s just time,” Rivers said. “It’s just right.”
The eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback already has the next step of his football life planned and ready to go. A native of Alabama, he’ll take the reins as head coach of St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
“I can sit here and say, ‘I can still throw it. I love to play,'” Rivers said. “But that’s always going to be there. I’m excited to go coach high school football. … What has helped me come to this (decision) is the growing desire to coach high school football. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been growing. I can’t wait.”
A former fourth-overall pick of the New York Giants in 2004 — before being traded to the Chargers minutes later for Eli Manning — Rivers was once the main attraction for NC State, and there’s a certain sense of nostalgia that will forever link Rivers to Brees, now continuing with the likelihood that both will be retire in 2021. When Rivers arrived in San Diego (where the Chargers were at the time), he did so as the backup to Brees, the latter going on to suffer a career-altering shoulder injury that — along with a dispute over a new contract — would forever change the course of both careers. Brees joined the New Orleans Saints in 2006 and Rivers became the face of the franchise for the Chargers that same season, going on to earn a list of NFL honors in the process.
And, needless to say, things worked out swimmingly for Brees as well, but the two will forever be tied together.
Rivers’ decision to retire was not only swift, but a bit of an about-face when factoring in his outlook to begin the new calendar year.
“I don’t want to speak in absolutes because there is still dust to be settled, whenever this season ends, and I’ll talk about it with my family,” he said 19 days ago. “And the Colts have their side, but I still feel the same way. I hope there is a Year 2 [in Indianapolis]. I think I’m really gonna want to play again.”
He will instead turn to the coaching ranks going forward and the Colts will now enter the offseason looking to resolve their QB situation for a second consecutive year, having thrown a lot of money in their attempt to do so in 2020.
Rivers inked a one-year, $25 million deal in Indy after parting ways with the Chargers, and the Colts now find themselves thrust atop the QB conversation this offseason alongside potential acquisitions like Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford or, albeit unlikely, a disgruntled Deshaun Watson. It’s unlikely they’ll find the future at the position in the draft unless they’re willing to apply for a mortgage and trade to the top of the first round, leaving their top options as a trade or to buy time with a veteran stopgap — e.g., Andy Dalton — something they’ve already shown they’re not adverse to doing.
Rivers rides off into the sunset with a list of achievements, but having fallen short of the one he most desperately sought to land — a Super Bowl ring. He retires from the NFL having thrown for 63,440 yards and 421 touchdowns to 209 interceptions, and with a career record of 139 wins and 113 losses.