No two quarterbacks in NFL history are alike.
While there are aspects necessary to succeed at the most important position in professional sports – arm talent, football IQ, leadership, etc. – there’s simply no secret formula to point toward.
Still, those prospects aiming to succeed in the NFL would be wise to emulate Philip Rivers.
One of the top quarterbacks to ever play the game, number 17 continues to march up the record books as he enters his 14th season. He currently ranks 12th in NFL history with 45,833 passing yards, and should climb up to eighth by the end of the 2017 season. His 314 TD passes heading into the season rank eighth all-time, and he’s only 28 shy of catching Fran Tarkenton. Rivers is also tied with Tom Brady for the third-most 4,000 yard-seasons ever recorded with eight, while his five seasons of at least 30 TDs rank sixth. Furthermore, his nine consecutive seasons with at least 25 touchdowns is third most in NFL history behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
Rivers also owns virtually every Chargers passer record, including attempts (5,917), completions (3,811), passing yards (45,833), TD passes (314) and completion percentage (64.4) among others.
Still, there’s one question people ask more than any other.
What makes Philip Rivers so special?
As we enter a historic season in Chargers history, we asked those who know number 17 the closest why he’s one of the best to ever take the field. Here’s what some of his current and former teammates had to say:
Center Nick Hardwick (2004-14) – ”The thing that’s so infectious to be around Philip is his passion. He has unbridled passion. Everything he is into…he is *into! * It is no holds barred passion about football, faith and family. And the beautiful thing about his passion is he’s very pure. He’s a very pure human being. He doesn’t allow himself to have bad thoughts. He refuses to allow himself to speak bad words. He speaks to everybody with dignity and respect. Philip really understands that while he has a highly coveted position and makes a ton of money for doing what he loves, he has a job that people really care about. He doesn’t take that lightly. And finally, he’s just one of the guys. He’s a regular human being, and he gets that down to his core. He was raised so properly. You put all those things together, plus his ridiculous talent, and it’s something truly special and unique.”
Tight End Antonio Gates (2004-present) – “I can go on and on, but the thing I come back to is I think people have a misconception of him. And that’s fine, because I think that’s what drives him. He just loves to compete, so when he gets booed on the road, and he gets booed a lot, he feeds off it. He’s one of the better quarterbacks this league has ever seen, and it comes from a place where he truly just loves to compete. It’s one of those things where because of that, I’m always in his corner. Right, wrong or indifferent; it doesn’t matter. The way he inspires makes his teammates feel that way about him, and it’s rare. That’s our guy. In his mind he’s fathomed that (mindset) where his back is against the wall and he needs to make the throw to win the game. When he was a kid, he dreamed to do this. And he’s not afraid to speak his mind. We all talk junk in the game, but no one gets as fired up as Phil. Sometimes I need to tell him to slow down, because he’s not the one who has to guard the guy he’s talking to! But it comes from a place where he truly just loves to compete. His passion; it’s contagious. He loves it. And that’s also what makes him different. You don’t see many quarterbacks act that way with that much passion. If it was anybody else you’d say, ‘Oh, ok. He’s just passionate. I love the way he’s passionate.’ But to see that from a QB, not many have. People had never really seen that before Phil. It’s different. You don’t expect many quarterbacks to have that much passion and fire. You expect them to be more chilled back. But that’s not Phil. And he wouldn’t be the quarterback he is without that passion and fire.”
*Quarterback Kellen Clemens (2014-present) *– “It’s his passion. He truly loves the game. Not only that, he truly loves the preparation just as much. Without giving away his secrets, I’ve been around a large part of the second half of his career. With his wealth of experience, he sees things better than most on film and in the game when it’s live. He has great feel and instincts when it comes to game-planning, and learning from the ebb and flow of the game (like) how defenses are adjusting. And the other thing is his vision. He sees all of it. When they talk about the elite guys who have ever played the position, he is absolutely in the heart of the conversation.”
Running Back Melvin Gordon (2015-present) – “Energy. Energy, energy, energy. You can’t help but want to go out and bring it because of that. For me, to be a good leader, you have to have good energy on game day. I’ve never been around anyone who has it like him. We all feed off him. He’s our leader. Few players have the chance to play in the NFL, so to get to have Philip Rivers be my quarterback, that’s something special right there, man. I’m grateful. I have a cousin Joseph, and he’s always said Philip Rivers was his favorite quarterback. So, I watched him for a while. And now to be around him, and see it up close, it’s just special.”
Cornerback Jason Verrett (2014-present) – “C O M P E T I T O R. I know everyone’s a competitor, but no one’s like Phil. He hates to lose. No matter what it is, he really hates to lose. Even if it is in practice or something in the locker room, it is a minor thing or a big thing, if it’s the difference between one yard or two yards, whatever the case is, you can see how much (it drives him crazy). And it makes us care more, too. I’ve always cared, and I’m a big competitor, but he’s made me care (even more). That’s a first ballot Hall of Famer right there in my opinion, so going to battle with him every day, it ups your game because you know he’s going to bring it every single day.”
Wide Receiver Malcom Floyd (2004-2015) – “I watch him now (on TV) and he’s the same guy he was when we were younger. It’s actually more than I even remember! I’m sitting back and watching him thinking, ‘Wow, he is burning all types of energy out there.’ It’s not just (physical) energy, but his mental (abilities) too. He is able to do things and get guys in position; so it’s mental and physical. I respect him so much. What he has done for so long, and at such a high level, it’s special. You have to appreciate guys like that.”
Tight End Hunter Henry (2016-present) – “The competitor he is; it’s crazy. Now some people on the outside hate it, but anyone who ever played with him, we all love it. We know what he’s about. Just to see him on that field, how bad he wants to win and how much he prepares for that; you can’t help but be inspired. The emotions he displays on the field sometimes may backfire for those on the outside who don’t know him, but really they are positive emotions. He’s just fired up because he loves to compete. It’s because he wants to win that badly. It shows us all a lot about him, and the type of leader and person he is. Shoot, it’s super special to play with him. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Wide Receiver Tyrell Williams (2015-present) – “He’s so inspirational. That’s what makes him special. People know how competitive he is, but the attention to detail he gives, I don’t think they know how much he puts into it. And just how smart he is. He’s able to get everybody where they need to be, changes plays and gets us in the perfect position and personnel for the coverages. It’s stuff like that that not many can do. People don’t really know how much he really does have getting us in the right plays. We all want to be at his level to not let him down. He’s definitely going to be a Hall of Famer. It’s crazy to get to play with him.”