Long-time LA Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers announced on Wednesday that he would be retiring from the NFL. Rivers spent 16 seasons with the Bolts, 14 as the starter, and one season with the Indianapolis Colts before officially calling it quits.
Rivers is as well-beloved as it comes. He was the definition of a gamer — the kind of quarterback that every single team would love to have. Someone who gave it his all, had extreme football IQ and often used that IQ in his banter (just ask J.J. Watt).
Charger fans already had to endure one sad day when Rivers officially parted ways with the Chargers and are now reminiscing on the career that Rivers had with the Bolts. Justin Herbert is fantastic and he is the future, but today is about Philip Rivers.
And sadly, as we reflect, it is clear that Rivers’ retirement is the official end to the greatest era in Chargers franchise history; an era that created many Charger fans. There is a good portion of Charger fans who would not currently be Charger fans if it was not for the mid-to-late 2000s.
Philip Rivers was the last one standing from the best stretch in Chargers history
Let’s go back to 2006. The Chargers were 14-2. While the season did not end in the best fashion, it is definitely safe to say that this was the greatest Chargers team of all-time. The legends that were on this team were remarkable and it was Rivers’ first season as the starter.
LaDainian Tomlinson broke the single-season touchdown record, Lorenzo Neal was an All-Pro and is still one of the greatest fullbacks of all-time, Antonio Gates was an All-Pro, Vincent Jackson was just coming up, Quentin Jammer was the CB1, Antonio Cromartie was in his rookie year, Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams were All-Pros, Donnie Edwards and Shaun Phillips are franchise greats.
Rivers is the last one standing from this legendary team. All of the players mentioned above would rank among the top-30 players in franchise history. We didn’t even mention the Bolts’ elite offensive line, which consisted of Chargers’ greats Marcus McNeill, Nick Hardwick and Kris Dielman.
LT was the story of this team because of his touchdown record, but man, was this a fun team to watch. The Chargers were elite on both sides of the ball, ranking first in points for and seventh in points against. They averaged 30.7 points per game and only allowed 18.9 points per game.
Let’s fast forward to the team’s second-best record from this era: 2009. This was LT’s last season in San Diego and had even more iconic players from this era that was not on the 2006 team. Joining Rivers, LT, Gates, Jackson, Cromartie and Jammer were the likes of Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd, Mike Tolbert, Kassim Osgood (who was on the 2006 team but was a Pro Bowler in 2009 and Darren Sproles.
That 2006-2009 stretch created many current Chargers fans, and there is a chance that you reading this might have become a Charger fan because of this era. While I personally became a Charger fan to follow my dad, I came up on this era. Little did I know that it was a rare stretch, one that the Chargers would not be able to replicate… yet.
Everyone from that 2009 team (and obviously the 2006 team) has since retired. LT retired after the 2011 season and is already in the Hall of Fame. Antonio Gates retired after 2018 and will be in the Hall of Fame in two years. Darren Sproles and Eric Weddle both retired prior to the 2019 season.
It is a sad reality, but every player from our favorite era of Chargers football is no longer in the league. Rivers was the Last of the Mohicans, the perfect representation of why we are all Charger fans, to begin with.
Thanks for the memories, Phil. I can’t wait to see your jersey number retired and your career forever immortalized in Canton.