Chargers' Philip Rivers answers questions about his NFL future: 'Yes, I do want to play football'
Rivers isn't waving the white flag, but it might get waved for him in LA
Time will tell if the Philip Rivers era is over with the Los Angeles Chargers, but if it is, don't plan on him retiring. The 38-year-old has done his part in helping to torpedo the Chargers' playoff hopes by not protecting the football in 2019, but he feels there's still plenty of juice left in the orange.
"I'm capable enough physically and mentally, there's no question," Rivers said, via Eric D. Williams of ESPN. "Yes, I do want to play football. I do, and that's how I feel deep down as I stand here."
Those comments came in the wake of a 24-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders that saw Rivers so frustrated he's now begun calling out Chargers fans for allowing a visiting team's fanbase to take over Dignity Health Sports Park -- something that's occurred frequently since the team relocated from San Diego. Angst with Los Angeles fans aside, Rivers and the 5-10 Chargers haven't given them much of anything to cheer for in 2019 -- now losers of five of their last six games and their franchise finale in that stadium.
In that stretch, Rivers has thrown for only nine touchdowns to 11 interceptions and he fumbled four times, losing one of them. His yardage isn't much changed over years past, but his turnovers are the most since 2016, and while lack of protection is a driver in his regression; it doesn't account for his poor decision-making and inaccurate throws when he stands clean, leading many to believe head coach Anthony Lynn.
Either Rivers goes or Lynn does -- if not both -- as the Chargers now find themselves in position to select a future franchise quarterback with a top pick in 2020.
For his part, however, Rivers isn't ready to walk away from the NFL, even if the Chargers finally decide to walk away from him.
"I know I can still do it," he said. "And I know I can still do it at a high enough level for us to win. I have not done it well enough this year, but I still do love to play, and love to lead these guys and this team. It's been an array of things that have compounded, to keep us from winning enough games to advance into the tournament."
Rivers has at least five games this season with multiple interceptions, and as he nears the ripe age of 40, he realized Father Time doesn't take prisoners. That said, he doesn't believe he's losing any arm strength as time rolls along.
"It's probably human nature when you're 38 and you throw some interceptions in games ... [that] people say, 'You can't make the throw you used to make' or 'You can't do this' -- arm strength and all of that," he said. "And just none of that is true. I've made some throws this year that have been as good as throws that I've made in any years of my career, but I'm not here to sell that.
"Physically and what I'm able to do is just what I was able to do last year when we were rolling and having one of our best years. Even in some of these games the last few weeks, we've had some really good plays offensively."
This is true, but there's been much more bad than good, and that's why Lynn refuses to comment on the future of Rivers with the organization, with a silence that carries an ominous backdrop. Rivers isn't naive to the reality of it all, and having played with a club for 16 seasons doesn't guarantee you a 17th out of some sense of loyalty, as Hall of Famers such as Joe Montana and Brett Favre found out the hard way.
At the end of the day, the NFL is a business, and winning consistently is all that matters.
"That doesn't mean [having some really good plays lately] is good enough for someone to want you to keep playing," the eight-time Pro Bowler admits. "Because you have to maintain that consistency throughout games and do enough to win football games, which we haven't done, and I haven't done well enough this year."
The only thing Rivers can do now is hope the Chargers give him one more shot in 2020, or for someone else to.
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