Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Phillip Rivers named Good Guy Award winner by the PFWA

 

George Laase

Although Phillip Rivers played his last NFL season with the Colts he will always be remembered as a Charger.

Former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who was praised for his dealings with local and national media during his career, has been selected as the 2021 Good Guy Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA). Rivers, who spent the first 16 years of his career with the Chargers organization, spent his 17th and final season with the Indianapolis Colts. He recently retired from the NFL.

Rivers, the 17th Good Guy Award winner, is the first member of the Colts' franchise to win the award. Rivers was a finalist for the award in 2012, 2019, and 2020 while with the Chargers. Other nominees for the Good Guy Award were recently retired New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Baltimore Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell, New York Giants cornerback Logan Ryan and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons.

The Good Guy Award is given to an NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs. The award has been presented annually by the PFWA since 2005. Former Charger running back LaDainian Tomlinson won the award in 2007. Rivers earned praise for consistently tackling all topics, even in a Zoom setting, and offering answers with perspective, wit, and originality during his career.

"Throughout his career, in good times and bad, Philip Rivers was unwavering in his professionalism in dealing with the media," said Los Angeles Times writer and 2019 PFWA Career Achievement Award winner Sam Farmer. "He was accessible and thoughtful, and more than that, he was a really good guy. That set the tone for the entire locker room, and by and large, his teammates followed his lead."

This reporter would agree with everything Farmer said and would add that while Rivers was very professional in his dealings with the media, he was a fiery competitor on the field and one of the best trash talkers in the NFL. Former UCLA and USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow was his offensive coordinator in his freshman season at North Carolina State. Chow said that Rivers just played that way.

"He's over there yelling at the other side," Chow told ESPN in an interview. "And they had some really good players over there like Julius Peppers (North Carolina defensive end). And I'm thinking, Hey, you young punk freshman, you're going to get beat up. But he's yelping at them and pointing at them, guns firing. I don't think it was done in any harmful kind of way. I just think he enjoyed playing. And he's still that way."

As Rivers put it in his retirement letter, "I appreciate the opposing defense making it challenging physically and mentally every week," Rivers stated in his retirement letter shared with ESPN. "I also enjoyed the banter. I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!"

Rivers was an 8-time Pro Bowl selection in his 14 years as the Chargers starter. Rivers threw for over 4,000 yards in 13 of his 14 seasons as the Chargers starting quarterback.

He spent his first two seasons in the NFL as the backup to Brees, who left in 2006 as a free agent and signed with the New Orleans Saints. Brees won the PFWA Good Guy Award in 2010. Both Brees and Rivers retired after the 2020 season, and both are statistically among the greats of all-time.

Brees is ranked No. 1 in all-time in passing yardage with 80,358 yards and Rivers is No. 5 with 63,440 career passing yards. Brees is ranked No. 1 in pass completions with 7,142 and Rivers No. 5 with 5,277 career completions. Brees is ranked No. 2 all-time in touchdown passes with 571 and Rivers No. 5 with 421 career touchdown passes. Both Good Guy Award winners are headed to the Hall of Fame for their play on the field.

After playing one season with the Colts and leading them to the playoffs, Rivers decided to retire from the NFL. Rivers loved the game so much he never missed a start. He retired having started 240 consecutive games at quarterback, which is second all-time only to Brett Favre at 297 for quarterbacks and is tied for third all-time on the consecutive starts list for all NFL players.

In an interview with the Hardwick Life Podcast shortly after his retirement from the NFL, a podcast hosted by former Charger Nick Hardwick, Rivers indicated a desire to retire a Charger. "I'm looking forward to retiring a Charger when the time is right," Rivers said. "So, obviously that will come when the new league year comes."

At the end of the 2014 season, General Manager Tom Telesco stated that, "We're committed to make sure that Philip retires as a Charger." While that did not quite work out as planned, Telesco has recently indicated that they would like to sign Rivers to a one-day contract so he can retire as a Charger. That would be a classy way to honor a great Charger player and a good guy.

 

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