Rivers' Emotional Outbursts A Double-Edged Sword

Instead of pointing out the fact that I was right about several things in my column last week – like Ryan Mathews’ rookie learning curve, the Chiefs being dangerous, just how much the team was going to miss the veterans they lost this summer or the fact that the Chargers are not the 13-14 win team that people thought they were (I’m done I promise) – I wanted to take a look at the on-field emotions of Philip Rivers.

First off, I’ll be the first to defend Rivers’ character and demeanor off the field. He is a fantastic family man and has been kind, calm and collected every time I’ve interviewed him.

On the field, well that’s a different story.

All you have to do to find out what a guys is like on the field is listen to his opponents talk about him. Countless defenses – and a few other quarterbacks – have openly called Rivers a jerk on the field who lets his emotions get the best of him.

But talk to his teammates and you’ll get a completely different story. Terms like leader and field general will be thrown around to describe the very same player that the opposition loves to hate.

So how can there be two such opposing views on the same player? The answer lies in the on-field displays that the Chargers signal caller puts on just about every week.

Many players enjoy jawing at each other from time to time after one manages to beat his opponent on a certain play, or if one team jumps ahead of their rival. But Rivers seems to be an equal opportunity trash talker and all out trouble causer at times. It does not matter if you play in the AFC West or the CFL, if you are playing against Rivers, you are going to hear from him.

All of this is well and good. But every now and then, there will be an emotional outburst that seems to greatly affect the team.

A prime example of this may have happened on Monday night. With the team already struggling with communication and continuity, Rivers’ and the offense suffered a delay of game penalty. After the ball was snapped and the referee blew his whistle, Rivers frustratingly dropped the ball on the ground and kicked it back towards the line of scrimmage.

After doing this, Rivers was seen laying into – or “encouraging them” depending on what camp you listen to – every offensive player around him.
While there were many other factors at play in the Chargers loss to the Chiefs, it will be important to note how the team manages adversity in games after losing two key team leaders this offseason in LaDainian Tomlinson and Kassim Osgood.

Form your own point of view about what you think of Rivers’ emotions on the field. Don’t believe what you hear showing up in print from anyone in the Chargers organization. There will never be an ill word spoken about San Diego’s $90 million man because football locker rooms are too tight knit for fractures to reach the surface.

Like everything else in life, Rivers’ emotions are a double-edged sword. While many fans will love the passion when the team is rolling, you have to be wary of the outburst that may be looking around the corner.

September 17, 2010

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Anonymous said... Sep 17, 2010, 12:30:00 PM

I cringed when he whined about the delay of game penalty - it bugs me to see someone bitches at their teammates. Does anyone say this about Peyton Manning - he does it all the time? I pass it off as being overly competitive - hard to have everything perfect all the time.

To his credit, he did not react to Dorsey tackling him from behind after he got rid of the ball on the last 4th down play - he knew he was beat and he took it. Still, that was a personal foul - Dorsey, you are cheap...

Mark said... Sep 17, 2010, 7:24:00 PM

Phil Rivers- don't change your on-field demeanor for nothing! I think all of the great quarterbacks have some quirks in their personalities that may irk some folks:

1) Tom Brady is known to whine to the refs and complain about non-calls- as well as maybe getting special treatment. The tuck rule was implemented because of him (Patriots/Raiders playoff game)
The whining may irk opponents but, it may be his way of asserting himselfs with the refs and protecting himself from injury. All in all, as much as don't like him, he may be considered one of the top 5 quarterbacks of all-time when all is said and done.

2) During the last Super Bowl we saw a different side of Peyton Manning as the camera caught some of his weird moments of super-intense concentration while on the sidelines which may have been viewed as borderline psycho. Some may see that as odd but maybe that was his way of staying focused. Also, Manning had some moments of berating teammates during that game but ultimately the loss was partly to blame on the interceptions he threw- and he knew it. Does that make him a bad QB??- for one game maybe but, his lifetime record (including a SB win) speaks for itself.

In the age of intense media scrutiny, I am not worried about Rivers on the field demeanor. In summary, his players love him and his opponents can't stand him. I don't see anything strange about that at all.

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2010, 5:28:00 AM

Anyone who does not like Rivers or his actions is not a Chargers fan. The non-fans don't like him only because he is so damm good. Myself not being a Chargers fan can see this a mile away. Even though I am not a fan, San Diego has one of the best and most under rated QB's in the NFL period.

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2010, 5:32:00 AM

Keep an eye on Philip Rivers step brother coming out of college! His name is Dee Emswiler. This guy is setting records left and right! Dee may be the next coming in the football world!

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2010, 9:45:00 AM

Unfortunately this discussion will continue mainly because of the misinformation spread from his spat with Cutler. People make up their minds and that's it - don't confuse them with the facts...Chris

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2010, 10:12:00 AM

LT was not a leader. He was gifted and good (great) as an athlete, but he did NOT lead. In fact, I would offer that he "lead" in a negative way: pouting on the sideline when injured, not being a part of the overall team's locker room and sideline chemistry (this is documented by several players), grumbling over playing time and declining skills, believing the Chargers were more about getting HIM stats and a Super Bowl ring. Sorry - give me Rivers ANY day. Any.

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2010, 10:16:00 AM

Bottom line. Norv should've been the one fired up shouting at his team when they f'd up... that's what a coach does... they manage the players... get them fired up, etc. It shouldn't have had to be Rivers to berate his offensive line when they screwed up, and remind them not to do it again... although I for one am glad he did. Philip Rivers is a true competitor and he is passionate about the game. I do not see this as a flaw, as long as it doesn't lead to getting penalized on the field. Norv is just too damn passive as a coach if you ask me, and his play calling is questionable in the most inopportune times it seems.

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2010, 12:00:00 PM

Philip Rivers reminds me of Dan Fouts...He was considered a B@st*rd by teammates at times but was and still is very well respected. Philip keep doing what you're doing and don't worry about the overscrutinized and over-opionated blogasphere we live in. Self serving bloggers love to stir the pot as it promotes thier own self interests to try to be "provacative"...sadly they only come off as uninformed. Philip Rivers has a competetive fire and uncanny leadership ability..it shows in his stats, w/l record as a starter and love from teammates. Keep it going #17 don't change a thing!

Anonymous said... Sep 19, 2010, 8:32:00 PM

Give me Rivers any day, the second coming of the MFIC.

Chris, you're dead on!

Anonymous said... Sep 20, 2010, 8:01:00 AM

Rivers' teammates love and respect him, big mouth and all, because they know it's a two-way deal. He plays with a tremendous sense of urgency and puts himself on the line with every play. He expects the same of everyone around him, but he never dishes out what he wouldn't eat himself-- he's honest, fair, and passionate as a twelve-year-old kid. Take it for what it's worth, but his story for why he kicked that ball was to save his center getting hurt in a loud and chaotic game-- he saw it happen last year in Oakland and didn't want Hardwick getting clobbered again. Ask Hardwick whether he minded getting chewed out by the QB who has his back...

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