*This blog is the first of potentially many ‘Dueling Blogs’, and directly combats the (incorrect) blog and opinion of Connor Ryan, that Philip Rivers IS in fact a Hall of Famer: Why Philip Rivers is a Hall of Famer
Though the ink may still be relatively wet on Philip Rivers’ retirement announcement, the question already begs asking. Does Rivers deserve to be enshrined in Canton as a Pro Football Hall of Famer? Cue the eyerolls! I’m sure many may scoff at the notion that we’re already talking about this. In my defense, if not now, then when?!
First things first – congrats to Rivers on a long and fruitful NFL career. Rivers outlasted his 2004 NFL draft counterpart Eli Manning in the NFL. That’s quite impressive. His choice of day (January 20th) to make the announcement is interesting – to say the least… because of… other things in the US that happened on that day.
No matter how you feel about him, or his legacy, there's absolutely no denying the historical impact of today.
January 20th, 2021. This day will forever be imprinted on many of us. The country, & even world, needs time to heal. This is the day Philip Rivers officially retired.
— Small State Big Takes Podcast (@SmallStateTakes) January 20, 2021
What’s On Rivers’ Résumé? (Yes I use the accent marks)
Rivers has had a good, long career as a starting quarterback. Some might recall how the Chargers actually drafted Philip Rivers in 2004 while already having a solidly successful QB1 in a young Drew Brees. After backing up Brees in for 2 years, in 2006 the Chargers let Brees walk as a free agent, and named Rivers the starter. Since taking over the helm in 2006, Rivers was the epitome of a durable QB, starting all 16 games for the next 15 seasons. WILD, when you think about that. Obviously he wasn’t just lucky – he played through a number of injuries throughout his career. Perhaps he’s the Frank Gore of NFL quarterbacks, with that level of consistency. As many managers and bosses would say, the best ability is availability. Rivers certainly had that going for him. Kudos.
Across 240 games started, this is Rivers’ average stat line for a full 16 game NFL season:
351 completions on 540 attempts, for 4,219 yards, 28 TDs, and 14 INTs.
Pretty solid average season, but not exactly mind-blowing. Is that what the average season of an NFL HOF QB looks like to you? One who played during the most pass-happy era of the NFL?
This stat line is like a baby sumo wrestler – just doesn’t move me. A Hall of Famer’s stats should be ‘WOW’ worthy. Think Owen Wilson type ‘WOW’.
What’s his ‘Legacy’?
He’s never won an MVP. Zero Super Bowl Appearances. 1 AFC Championship game appearance. Had a few great individual seasons, but was never really seen as a top 3 QB in the league, in my opinion. Sure he has counting stats for a long career during the most pass-happy era EVER. But so do guys like Matt Stafford, who will rival his career totals when it’s all said and done.
So what’s his actual legacy? How will people remember his NFL career?
I’d say he’ll best be remembered as being extremely fertile ( he has 9 children!!!), a good but never truly ~great~ QB, with a fiery (and at times funny) personality. Perhaps that’s harsh, but at the same time, I don’t see how he sets himself apart from the large group of QBs that put up big stats in this era.
His lasting legacy might be as an all-time great trash-talker on the field. Which is fine – but doesn’t make him a HOFer.
I could watch these all day. What a great trash-talker – and has as funny heck filter with some classic ‘profanity alternative’ phrases. I’m going to try to pick up some of these phrases for when I start playing pickup hoops again.
“GOLLY”!!! Rivers is an all-time great NFL personality, I’ll give him that much credit.
What About *Insert QB from pre-2000* Being In the Hall of Fame?
I understand the frustration of saying no to Rivers and looking at the career stats of Hall of Famers like Joe Namath, Warren Moon, and even fellow ringless Chargers legend Dan Fouts. But there’s no denying that it was just a totally different era of football. Even trying to compare the careers between Jets QBs Sam Darnold and Joe Namath is apples to oranges.
No, really. Even the super underwhelming start to Sam Darnold’s career with the Jets is comparable to the production of Hall of Famer Joe Namath!
For a 16 game season average, Darnold has 307 completions on 513 attempts (59.8%), good for 3409 yards, 19 TDs and 16 INTs. Per his 16 game average, Namath has 216 completions on 430 attempts (50.1%), equating to 3161 yards, 20 TDs and 25 INTs. BONKERS. Albeit Namath has the 1 (promised and delivered) Super Bowl win to his credit, which likely is why he’s in the HOF.
As funny as it would be, no I’m not saying Darnold is on pace to be a Hall of Famer. But rather I’m mentioning all this in hopes to show how different the QB position is in 2021, and how it’s perceived. The fact that there’s a legitimate statistical comparison between a legend of the 60s/70s and a failed young QB is startling. Which goes to prove that it’s nearly impossible to compare across eras, not dissimilar to comparing the stats and skills of NBA stars from the 1960s to today’s stars.
Philip Rivers versus the Average HOF QB
Here’s a useful link to follow along with my logic here: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/hof/hofm_QB.htm
Basically, for the ‘HOF Metric’, the average Hall of Famer has a rating of 100, based on the normal statistics and success. Philip Rivers comes in barely below that, at 97.64. Normally, that’s likely good enough for a guy like Ben Roethlisberger, who also lacks an MVP season, but won 2 Super Bowls.
Sadly, without a Super Bowl win (or even appearance) to Rivers’ case, I don’t think it’s enough to push him over the hump and get him inducted. If we’re in the business of rewarding consistency without championships, be ready for the onslaught of HOFers in this ballpark. Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, maybe even Joe Flacco sneaks in. That’s what could happen with the precedent of Rivers making the HOF.
Should Philip Rivers be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Verdict: Close, but no cigar.
If there was a Hall of Very Good, Phil Rivers would be first-ballot. But in Canton, Ohio it’s reserved for the best of the best. Sad to say, Rivers’ career falls short of ~greatness~.
No, it doesn’t help that he had to play his entire career during the GOAT and 3-4 other all-time great QBs in Manning, Rodgers, Brees (and maybe eventually Mahomes). But, at the end of the day – you have to deal with the cards you’re dealt. The NFL has the most parity of the Big 4 sports leagues, and despite that, he never really came close to winning a championship. Even Joe Flacco was able to win a ship!
What Happens If Rivers is Voted In?
Pretty much nothing. In all honesty, very few lives would be impacted by it, so do we even care that much?…
YES. Yes, we do care. If Rivers is inducted, the gates are wide open for nearly any QB in this era good enough to be a starter for 15 or so years.
The NBA’s list of Hall of Famers is too long! As a result, the extensive list of members of the Springfield Basketball HOF has become somewhat of a joke. Getting into the Basketball Hall of Fame is far less restrictive than it should be.
Preserve the Sanctity of the Pro Football Hall of Fame!!!
To save the sanctity of ‘Pro Football Hall of Fame’ status, the NFL needs to hold strong and not bend for QBs with huge career counting stats. It’s a far different NFL than the one we saw even 10-15 years ago. Quarterbacks like Rivers, Manning, and even Matt Stafford will have historically all-time great counting stats (passing yards, TDs, completions, etc). Considering it’s such a pass happy league there’s less merit in those stats than ever before. In comparison, for
In my opinion, a sports league should look more like the Baseball Hall of Fame, where it’s far tougher to be inducted. Unfortunately for Rivers, he’s where I feel like the line has to be drawn. If he’s not, I fear it’s a precedent that will open the floodgates for more good, but not all-time great QBs to be Hall of Famers.
If it’s any consolation, Rivers is a 1st-ballot sports GIF Hall of Famer.
But as for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH? Sorry Phil. It’s a no from me.