Philip Rivers’ streak of 240 consecutive games started, third-longest all-time and second among quarterbacks, has reached its end. The 39-year-old announced his retirement from the NFL Tuesday night, putting a bow on a memorable career that spanned 17 seasons, 16 of which were spent as a Los Angeles and San Diego Charger. An eight-time Pro Bowler, Rivers will finish his career with 63,440 passing yards, 421 touchdowns and 5,277 completions. He ranks fifth in each of those categories, trailing only Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
“It’s just time,” Rivers told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s just right.”
Rivers joined the Chargers under unusual circumstances in 2004, arriving in a draft-day trade that sent Eli Manning to the New York Giants following the latter’s refusal to play for San Diego. Known for his odd, shotput-esque throwing mechanics, Rivers spent his first two years in the league as a spectator before ascending to starting status upon Brees’ departure as a free agent in 2006. He didn’t miss a start after that, even playing through an ACL tear during the Chargers’ playoff run in 2008. The 6’5” Rivers reached the postseason seven times—once with the Colts and six times as a Charger—but never appeared in the Super Bowl.
Rivers foreshadowed his retirement earlier this month following the Colts’ playoff loss to Buffalo, which would end up being the final game of his storied career. “It was a heck of a team to be a part of,” said the future Hall-of-Famer, reflecting on his lone season as a Colt. “It’s certainly disappointing to finish like this when you just believe it’s the year. That’s the competitor in me. I’ve never not believed it’s the year. It was a special thing to be a part of.”
A prolific trash talker (though he famously never used profanity) who succeeded in light of his athletic limitations, Rivers was one of the sport’s most colorful characters, endearing himself to fans with his fiery, win-at-all-costs mentality. The NC State alum was a gunslinger at heart, twice leading the league in interceptions, though he also led the NFL in touchdowns in 2008. The father of nine already has a job lined up as the head coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in his native Alabama.
“Thank you, God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL,” said Rivers in a statement shared by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!”
With Rivers calling it a career, the Colts will begin their search for another starting quarterback. That position has been a revolving door for Indianapolis since Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement in 2018.