Eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers announced his retirement after his 17th season. The long-time quarterback for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers had a very good, borderline great career. However the jury is still out on just how great he was.
There has been a lot of back and forth between fans on whether Rivers deserved a bust in Canton, Ohio during the twilight years of his career. So, now that his career has finally come to a close, the question still remains: should Philip Rivers make the NFL Hall of Fame?
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The Good: Regular Season Rivers
Over his career, Philip Rivers played 244 games and posted a 134-106 record. He has thrown for over 63,000 yards, with 421 touchdowns and 209 interceptions. Rivers’ career completion percentage was just shy of 65% and he has started every single game since the start of the 2006 NFL season, which is a notable stat his career record will not tell you. His longevity and durability are truly legendary. For those who may have forgotten, he played on a torn ACL in the 2008 AFC Championship Game against the then undefeated New England Patriots.
Rivers was not only one of the toughest guys in the NFL, but his numbers certainly backed up the fact that he had one hell of a career.
The Bad: Postseason Rivers
I will be the first to tell you that postseason success isn’t all on the quarterback, and nothing was more telling than the 2010 San Diego Chargers. They were first in total offense and first in total defense. San Diego was fifth in point differential, outscoring their opponents by 119. They still missed the playoffs, at 9-7. Obviously, the lack of success and trips in the postseason is not all on Rivers, but we are talking about the Hall of Fame. It’s for the best of the best—not for those who put up good numbers in the regular season and couldn’t show up when needed.
In his 17-year career, Rivers only made the postseason seven times. In three of those, he was bounced in the first round. Only once did he make it to the AFC Championship. This wasn’t an Aaron Rodgers-esque scenario, where the defense wouldn’t show up. Rivers was 5-7 with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 postseason games. He also fumbled three times and his completion percentage dropped to under 60 percent. If you want to make the Hall of Fame, you need to show up when it matters. When it mattered most, Rivers was nothing more than average.
How Rivers Measures Up
Only five quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame have not won a Super Bowl. However, Dan Marino, Fran Tarkenton and Jim Kelly all at least made the Super Bowl once, with Tarkenton losing three times and Kelly losing four. The other two who have not made an appearance either are Warren Moon and Dan Fouts. Both of them have worse completion percentages, a much worse touchdown-to-interception ratio and much less yards. Here’s the thing, you can’t compare the careers from today to those of pre-2000. The game is just too different. Yes, Moon and Fouts weren’t as good, statistically, but even Joe Montana has a worse touchdown-to-interception ratio than Rivers. Would anyone in their right mind say Rivers is better than Montana? Hell no.
The Hall of Fame is reserved for the best of the best. The game is much different now; it changes all the time. As a result, you must compare players to their counterparts of their same generation. Rivers was a great regular season quarterback. However, he was average, at best, in the postseason and only even made the conference championship game once.
When you compare him to the likes of future Hall of Famers, such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, does he stack up in the regular season? Of course. However, when the games mean so much more, and when the team needs to rely on their leader, he wilts into an average player.
He has no rings or even an appearance to show for it. For that reason, Philip Rivers does not deserve a reserved space in Canton, Ohio.