Philip Rivers was driving to his team's workout just as he had done several days before. And the week before that. And the week before that. For 10 straight weeks, very quietly, Rivers and members of the Chargers have done their due lockout diligence.
The Charger practices have drawn up to 20 players and Rivers has yet to miss a single session. For Rivers, the workouts are a lockout anecdote, a dose of normalcy during a bizarre period in NFL history.
|Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is ready to play real football. (Getty Images)|
Rivers also is smart. He knows San Diego has the talent to advance deep into the postseason and the lockout could potentially damage those chances.
Rivers is neither stridently pro union nor anti-union. He neither stays intimately involved in the lockout news of the day nor is oblivious to it. He's a centrist, and in many ways Rivers represents a number of NFL players. It's these reasons why Rivers' blunt words on the lockout are worth noting.
"I'm about to reach my limit, I'm going stir crazy," Rivers told me. "I think it's just unfortunate we've come to this. The game is at an all-time high. I'm not talking about revenue. I'm talking about popularity. We're essentially putting all of that at risk. I don't mean just players. I mean owners, everyone. I didn't think we’d ever be here. I'm still shocked we're at this point.
"I grew up loving football as a game and I still do. The business side of it never appealed to me but I can't be a hypocrite. The business side has been beneficial to me but I always hated this part of it. It's not me. I don’t think it's a lot of players. Most players just want to get back to football."
I think we've officially crossed into a different lockout territory. Players have gone from anger to frustration to boredom and now stir-crazy.
"When I see Chargers fans, many of them ask me the same question," Rivers explained. "They say, 'We're playing football this year, right?' I tell them I really don't know and I'm getting a little worried.
"The bottom line is that I don't know what's going to happen. Players don't know if we're playing this year. As players we want to know but we don't. There's very little of this we can control. So you sit tight, work out and hope for the best. But I think every player in the league feels the way I do. We're all frustrated."
So Rivers takes out those frustrations during the lockout workouts. He spends time with his family. He works out. More time with the family. More working out. "The lockout is good and bad," he said. "If you're a veteran, you know how to stay in shape. But there's no substitute for OTAs and real workouts. No substitute at all."
Rivers is busy in another way. On June 11, the Philip Rivers 5K takes place. The run benefits his Rivers of Hope Foundation, a program dedicated to assisting foster care and adoption programs throughout San Diego County.
So Rivers has plenty to keep himself busy.
Just not, for the moment, any real football.