While Rivers has a chance to solidify his own legacy as one of the best quarterbacks of his era, he also has a chance to add to to the legacy of his revered 2004 quarterback draft class, a class that also includes Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and recently retired Eli Manning.
The only QB draft class that rivals the class of '04 is the hallowed class of '83 that includes Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and John Elway. Each quarterback is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each one led their team to Super Bowls, with Kelly becoming the only quarterback to take his team to the Big Game four straight times. Elway, after three Super Bowl losses in the 1980s, retired as a back-to-back champion. Marino, who retired as the NFL's all-time leading passer, appeared in one Super Bowl. His 1984 season stood as the most passing season in NFL history for two decades.
You could make an argument for either draft class being the best of all-time. The '83 class has more combined Super Bowl trips (11), but Big Ben and Manning's two Super Bowl wins apiece gives them twice as many rings as the '83 class. And while all three members of the '04 class are top 10 all-time in career passing yards and touchdown passes, they have zero league MVPs between them. Conversely, Marino took home the NFL's highest individual honor in '84, with Elway following suit three years later (Kelly, for what it's worth, was the short-lived USFL's MVP in '84 before joining the Bills two years later).
The class of '83 already has three quarterbacks enshrined in Canton, and while Big Ben is considered a future HOF lock, Manning's Canton credentials have been debated more than the Popeyes and Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches. Rivers, despite all of his success with the Chargers, is not considered a surefire Hall of Fame lock as he prepares to head to Indianapolis.
While Manning can no longer add to his legacy, and with Big Ben's already pretty much written, Rivers can still alter his career narrative. For all his success, Rivers is mostly regarded as a riverboat gambler who has become somewhat of a punchline when it comes to his team's tendency to find itself down by one score and needing to drive the length of the field with little time left on the clock. Rivers has also been branded as a quarterback who far too often fails to take care of the ball, which is one of the reasons why the Chargers ended the 16-year partnership this offseason.
If he enjoys a career resurgence in Indianapolis (which is certainly possible given the Colts' personnel and his familiarity with Indianapolis coach and former Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich), Rivers can not only solidify his future place in Canton, he can make the class of '04 a truly iconic group. With Reich, Rivers will play under a familiar system. Reich will likely help Rivers through his progressions while remaining him that he doesn't have to play the hero role, something he was asked to do on many occasions during the end of his Chargers tenure.
And while the Colts are anything but a juggernaut, they were 5-2 seven games into the 2019 season before injuries steamrolled a once promising season. The addition of Rivers, along with some other offseason acquisitions (specifically at receiver and on the defensive line), should make the Colts a contender in the AFC South in 2020.
The question is, what constitutes success for Rivers in Indianapolis? While a Super Bowl win -- let alone an appearance in the big game -- would certainly fit the bill, Rivers mirroring the successes Kurt Warner had in Arizona, Brett Favre in Minnesota, and Joe Montana in Kansas City may be good enough. It would provide fans (and NFL historians), with another compelling chapter in this career. At this point, the two biggest moments of Rivers' career was his playing with a torn ACL in the '07 AFC title game and his strong MVP push just two years ago. A third defining moment, at this point in his career, may be enough to put his already accomplished career into an ever higher category.
In the process, it would end the debate between the two greatest QB classes of all-time.