Quarterback Philip Rivers calls time on NFL career

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Quarterback Philip Rivers is retiring from the NFL after a prolific 17-year career that he recalled Wednesday as his "childhood dream."

Rivers starred with the Chargers -- first in San Diego and then in Los Angeles -- for 16 seasons before playing in 2020 with the Indianapolis Colts.

The 39-year-old never made it to the Super Bowl, but built an impressive resume, ranking fifth all-time with 63,440 passing yards behind only Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.

He is fifth all-time with 421 touchdown passes -- behind the same quartet -- and finishes his career with eight straight seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards.

"Every year, January 20th is a special and emotional day," Rivers said in a statement. "It is St. Sebastian's Feast day, the day I played in the AFC championship without an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), and now the day that after 17 seasons, I'm announcing my retirement from the National Football League.

"Thank you God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL."

Colts coach Frank Reich called Rivers "one of the fiercest competitors and most loyal teammates that our game has ever seen.

"His unwavering conviction as a leader and elite intelligence contributed to his Hall of Fame football career."

Rivers, whose Colts fell to the Buffalo Bills in this year's playoffs, told the San Diego Union Tribune of his decision: "It's just time. It's just right.

"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."

So Rivers is headed into a new career, not like so many of his retired counterparts as a high-profile media commentator, but as a high school football coach.

"I'm excited to go coach high school football," said Rivers, who already had a plan in place to take over as head coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, in his native Alabama.

"What has helped me come to this (decision) is the growing desire to coach high school football," he said. "That's what I've always wanted to do. It's been growing. I can't wait."