This is part of Pro Bowl Week courtesy of USAA, the official Military Appreciation Sponsor of the NFL. I spoke with Philip Rivers after last night’s Pro Bowl Fantasy Draft. Because of the rules they put in place, a quarterback had to be drafted last by both teams, and once Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Drew Brees were gone early in the process, there was no incentive for Rivers to be taken by Team Rice until right before the final round, ahead of Alex Smith and Nick Foles. Even though he had to sit in the tent all night and not get to come out and enjoy the spring rolls and burgers with the other players, Rivers was kind enough to talk to me.
Q: It was, at least statistically, a bounce back year for you. People also got to see your competitive spirit, and got to appreciate you, I think even though you did not advance further in the playoffs, you were a part of so many great moments throughout the year. Andy Reid boxing you out, for example, your thought when Andy Reid stuck his butt into you in the heat of a game when you guys won in Kansas City and got back into the playoff chase.
Rivers: That particular moment was funny, I mean, it kind of caught me off guard, but I have a great deal of respect for Andy Reid and what he does as a coach and a person.
Q: What were you trying to say to him?
Rivers: Well, I was actually going over toward the official, we just got a call, and I was just kinda wanting to understand what happened, and where the offensive lineman was, they called offensive lineman downfield. Andy was kinda like saying, “get outta here” and he was kinda like trying to keep me from getting to the official.
Those are the moments that are the game within the game moments, that unless you really can be on the inside, you don’t fully understand, you know what I mean, it’s only a perception. Unfortunately, the perception on my end is that I’m always crying [Rivers deep emphasis voice] or arguing or complaining, and a lot of it is just a lot of fun and passion and emotion that we would have as kids growing up in the backyard, playing with your buddies.
So, it’s moments like that where you appreciate–it’s about winning and losing–but it’s those moments that you laugh about when you go home on Sunday night.
Q: Your offensive coordinator this year, Ken Whisenhunt, is back as a head coach after being with you for one year. What did Whisenhunt provide for you and what do you think of him getting another chance to be a head coach?
Rivers: A great steadiness and a consistency that he brought to our offensive football team. It was very clear early on that he was a head coach, you know, from his preparation, his command in front of a room. He was great. You hate to lose him, but I know he will do great in Tennessee, and I have a great deal of confidence in Frank Reich and what he’ll do being a coordinator. We’ll keep it rolling.
Q: I am a father of four, and you are one of the few that has exceeded me, so I wanted to seek you out for any parenting advice you could provide.
Rivers: Yeah, well, we just had our seventh, five girls and two boys. The youngest is about twelve weeks old, but I’ll tell you, it’s awesome, it’s been a great blessing.
Q: How do you have enough knees, because I know with mine, they compete over my knees and my attention.
Rivers: Well, I’ll tell you, first you have a great wife. That’s first. Seeing them all grow up, in a big family, how the oldest come take care of a younger ones, there’s just a dynamic there in a big family. My mom was one of nine, I grew up around my grandparents’ house with all my aunts and uncles and cousins.
So, again, everyone of them is a blessing. They are getting old enough now to where they are getting into the football, getting excited about the football, wins and losses, cheer for me on Sunday. At the same time, you come home on a Sunday road trip, they love you for dad, for being dad. You pull in, there’s sidewalk chalk, there’s scooters, there’s bikes all over the driveway, you’re weaving your way in, and then it’s just kind of like, whether you threw three interceptions or three touchdowns, they love and appreciate you the same.
Q: It’s good to see you have the same issues that all of us have.
Rivers: They’re awesome, we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Q: Obviously a lot of service members over here, any thoughts on the service they provide over here and elsewhere.
Rivers: I certainly appreciate all the service men and women throughout our whole country and stationed here in Hawaii, all over the states, and all over the world for that matter. Certainly appreciate what they do, day in and day out. You know, you obviously hear about the coverage when there is war and where there’s all those things going on. But just the day in/day out service they provide for our safety and our freedom.
Q: I wanted to talk to you earlier in the evening, but you had, because of the stupid scenario they put together, you had to sit back there, after Newton was picked, forever. [the pro bowl draft required that a quarterback be the last person taken by each team, which meant that once Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Drew Brees were gone by the third pick, Team Rice had no reason to take Rivers before the next to last round]. I said to somebody at the time, “hey, they didn’t even take the best quarterback available yet.”
Rivers: [smiling, but not biting on talking any Pro Bowl smack].
Q: But anyway, Keenan Allen, great year for you, rookie receiver, slipped to the third round, could have been taken much earlier. What were his strengths–we can all see the results. Why did he have a special year?
Rivers: I think something, it’s hard to describe, it’s the “IT” factor. Some guys just have a knack for knowing how to play, and he has that. That’s something you can’t coach. After that, he has a great skill set, he can change directions, he’s big, he’s long, he understands how to get open. I-I-I know that sounds crazy, but, it’s an understanding of what’s open and what’s not open, what you do, and what we see from back there in the pocket.
Thank goodness we got him when we did, you lose Malcom Floyd, you lose Danario Alexander, who knows without him where we’d been. So it’s awesome to have him. The thing about him, he’s hungry, so he’ll only get better.
Q: Good luck, you gonna beat Brees out for the starting job? I know it’s tough with him being one of the drafters.
Rivers: Ha ha. He can have it. I’ll be back to that role like I was in ’04 and ’05.