NFL

Rivers retires, ends ‘childhood dream’ NFL career

Philip Rivers is retiring from football, ending his 17-year career as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history.

Rivers, who spent this past season with the Indianapolis Colts after 16 years with the Los Angeles Chargers, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen in a statement Wednesday that playing quarterback in the NFL was his “childhood dream.”

Rivers, 39, ranks fifth in NFL history with 63,440 passing yards, behind only Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. The eight-time Pro Bowler also is fifth in league history with 421 touchdown passes — again behind only Brady, Brees, Manning and Favre.

Rivers told Schefter and Mortensen that he wanted to announce his retirement on Jan. 20, which is the Roman Catholic Church’s feast day for St. Sebastian — often referred to as the patron saint for athletes.

“Every year, January 20th is a special and emotional day,” Rivers said. “It is St. Sebastian’s Feast day, the day I played in the AFC championship without an ACL, 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.”

Rivers passed for 4,169 yards and 24 TDs this past season, leading the Colts to an 11-5 record and a wild-card berth in the AFC playoffs. Indianapolis was eliminated earlier this month with a 27-24 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

The Colts, who added Rivers to provide stability at quarterback after Andrew Luck’s surprising retirement before the 2019 season, thanked Rivers in a tweet Wednesday.

Colts coach Frank Reich said earlier this month that he hoped Rivers would return for the 2021 season and that he thought “Philip still has a lot of good football [left].”

Rivers initially revealed his decision to the San Diego Union-Tribune late Tuesday night and told the newspaper that he intends to stick with his plan to coach high school football.

“I can sit here and say, ‘I can still throw it. I love to play,'” Rivers told the Union-Tribune. “But that’s always going to be there. I’m excited to go coach high school football.”

Rivers joined the Colts on a one-year, $25 million contract last March after 16 outstanding seasons with the Chargers, who reached the playoffs six times with him as their starter and advanced to the AFC Championship Game after the 2007 season.

“I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season,” Rivers said in his statement. “Thank you to all my coaches that helped me grow as a player and person. Thanks to the support staff. I appreciate the opposing defenses making it challenging physically and mentally every week. … 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!

“Thanks to the fans in San Diego and around the nation that both cheered and booed. Special thanks to my teammates. Without a doubt my favorite part of the game, being a teammate. Thank you for being mine.

“Lastly, thank you to my wife and best friend Tiffany, and our children Halle, Caroline, Grace, Gunner, Sarah, Peter, Rebecca, Clare, and Anna. Could not have done it without y’all’s unwavering support.

“As my playing career comes to an end, the next chapter begins.”

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