Philip Rivers is still going strong 15 years later.
Before Sunday’s crushing loss to the Houston Texans, the league highlighted Rivers with an accolade only seven other NFL quarterbacks have ever achieved. Rivers became just the eighth quarterback in league history to reach 55,000 career passing yards. The others include greats like Dan Marino, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as well as two other current NFL quarterbacks. Those are Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, the two other quarterbacks drafted in the same first round as Rivers in 2004.
For those who do not remember (or were born after) the 2004 draft, there was much fanfare and drama around the number one overall pick.
The (San Diego at the time) Chargers held the first pick and had their eyes on Ole Miss product Eli Manning. Eli, however, had other plans. He told the Chargers “no” and said he would never play for the team.
The Chargers did indeed draft Manning with the first overall pick (and the most awkward jersey pose ever), but eventually traded Eli to the New York Giants for Rivers. Seven picks later, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Big Ben 11th overall.
Fast forward 15 years later, Rivers is now the last of his quarterback draft class to join the 55K passing club. He is also the only one of the three to not have a Super Bowl ring (Manning and Roethlisberger each have two).
With the latest injury to Big Ben and benching of Eli; however, Rivers continues to post impressive numbers. His quarterback play remains high quality and consistent, being one of the NFL’s few older statesman quarterbacks (Tom Brady notably) still slinging it at an age of 35+.
The question remains though…who is the best quarterback from that class? Many can argue that Super Bowls are everything and Eli should be with two Super Bowl MVPs; yet, Dan Marino was one of the best ever without a Super Bowl win.
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Some could state that Roethlisberger has done more with less and has made some incredible, game-saving plays (see Colts-Steelers playoff game or Cardinals-Steelers Super Bowl); but then again, those accolades come with the incredible defense and arguably star ownership of the Steelers franchise.
Others could say that Rivers has stats and consecutive games started that dwarf what Manning and Roethlisberger have ever done; however, Rivers has no Super Bowl appearances, wins nor MVPs.
Whatever side of the debate one is on, it is no question that all three teams did benefit from the quarterbacks they selected. As for Rivers, he is well on his way to the Hall of Fame. That said, a Super Bowl win would truly cap off and cement a strong career for Rivers as well as the Chargers faithful who have watched him since 2004.