Before announcing his retirement from a prolific 17-year (16 with the Los Angeles Chargers, and one year with the Indianapolis Colts) NFL career on January 20, Philip Rivers had already made plans for the next step in his professional life months ahead of time. The 39-year-old father of nine will take over as the full-time head football coach at St. Michael Catholic High School – a position he originally accepted last summer – in his native Alabama.
Four passions that lie at the center of Rivers life are quite obvious to any onlooker; faith, family, football, and fostering the next generation.
While throwing for north of 63,000 yards and 400 touchdowns, Rivers has never been shy about keeping his faith right out in front of him for all to see. The eight-time Pro Bowler maintained that reputation by intentionally announcing his decision to hang up his cleats on the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Sebastian – the traditional patron saint of athletes. In his release to the press, he added: “Thank you God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL.”
One of the most memorable instances of Rivers’ playing career also took place on January 20 of 2008. A mere six days after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee, he still managed to not only get on the field but take every single snap at quarterback in an AFC Championship matchup against the New England Patriots. Rivers and the Chargers would lose that game, but his courage and competitiveness on the gridiron would never be in question beyond that point.
It is also unquestionable that Rivers will bring the same mentality to the sidelines at St. Michael. “You will get the same passion and work ethic at this school and community that I’ve poured into my career,” he told the audience at a press conference to announce his hiring as “coach in waiting” last May. Reports have suggested that Rivers will take over full-time duties at St. Michael beginning April 1 this spring.
In addition to his dream of playing NFL football, Rivers has made it known that his other was to coach high school football like his father. Steve Rivers was a high school coach for 25 years, coached his son Philip in the late-1990’s, and eventually landed in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Also like his father, Rivers desires to coach his son(s) in high school. Of his nine children, two are boys. The oldest is currently in his middle-school days, so Rivers will get a couple of years under his belt before either get in the huddle with him during a high-school football weekend.
Another stop that many believe Rivers will make in the coming years is Canton, Ohio – home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His statistics certainly merit incredibly heavy consideration. At present, Rivers ranks fifth all-time in passing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in regular-season wins for a quarterback, and 10th in fourth-quarter comebacks.
Whether or not Rivers is ever enshrined into the football Hall of Fame, one thing is certain, he is a hall-of-fame man. He’s always tried to live by the mantra “faith, family, then football… in that order.” That is certainly commendable, as is the Latin phrase “Nunc Coepi” which Rivers said is one his kids would call the family motto. He even wrapped up his retirement announcement with it. It translates “Now I begin.”
–By Sports Reporter Nate Miller