When the 2004 NFL draft arrived, the San Diego Chargers had the #1 pick in the draft. Eli Manning was the perennial pick for the first selection, but his camp, most notably his father Archie Manning, came out and said Eli would not play in San Diego. It was quite a bizarre statement from his father, and with that the Chargers had to do something. Manning was the obvious #1 pick and the team had to take him with the first pick. The Chargers selected him and made a trade with the New York Giants.
Philip Rivers was officially drafted by the Giants with the 4th pick in the first round. Rivers and three draft picks were then traded to the Chargers for Eli Manning. The Chargers did well in the trade as they received a 3rd round pick in the 2004 draft (Nate Kaeding), a 2005 1st round pick (Shawne Merriman) and a 2005 5th round pick (Traded to TB for Roman Oben). A decent haul for the #1 pick in the draft. Merriman had some fantastic years as a Chargers linebacker, Kaeding had a good run as the Chargers kicker, and Oben even proved useful for the Chargers o-line.
Philip Rivers was a four-year starter at NC State, where he shattered every school record for passing, and a few SCC records. Rivers started 51 straight games and took the team to four straight bowl games (winning three of them). By the end of his career Rivers was second in all time passing yards for a Division 1-A quarterback. He also threw 95 touchdowns to only 34 interceptions in his collegiate career.
The problem the Chargers had with drafting a QB, is they already had a young quarterback who was beginning to show some great leadership skills. Drew Brees was drafted in 2001 and the team decided Brees was the man while Rivers sat and learned behind him.
The 2004 and 2005 season was a time to learn the game for Rivers. As a quarterback who played every game, it was very difficult for him to sit and watch. To his credit, he never complained, and did his best to be ready when or if needed. Rivers only had four appearances in those first two seasons. He was 17-30 with 148 yards and one touchdown. Most of those stats were earned at the last Chargers game of the 2005 season.
At home against the Broncos, Drew Brees was hurt late in the second quarter as safety John Lynch hit Brees. His right-throwing shoulder was dislocated and Rivers was forced to action. He went on to complete 12-22 passes for 115 yards and one interception. He led the Chargers to their only scoring drive, but the team lost to the Broncos 20-7.
The right shoulder injury to Brees was a deciding factor in allowing him to leave via free agency after the 2005 season. Brees left to play for the New Orleans Saints and Philip Rivers was given the keys to a team that was blooming. Rivers rewarded the Chargers with a 14-2 season in which the Chargers had home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Chargers laid an egg in their first home playoff game against the Patriots and head coach Marty Schottenheimer lost his job soon after.
Head coach and offensive guru Norv Turner was brought in to guide the team. His offensive approach enabled Rivers to blossom even more and his numbers began to skyrocket. Rivers has led the Chargers to five playoff seasons in which the team has gone 4-5 collectively. The team has failed to win the big one, but Rivers has shown time and time again how valuable he is to the team. His toughness and tenacity is second to none at the quarterback position.
Rivers has a grand total of 20 fourth quarter comebacks as a Chargers quarterback. He is currently fourth on the All-time consecutive starts list by a quarterback. His 169 total starts in a row proves that he is tough beyond belief. Rivers even played the 2007 AFC Championship game with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which later required surgery. To play an entire game with a torn ligament and basically put your career in jeopardy will go down as one of the gutsiest performances in Chargers history.
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