Setting the Stage
Philip Rivers was born in Decatur, Alabama and played high school football for his father, Steve Rivers. Rivers’ first start was in the 7th grade and he never was on the bench again until his rookie season in the NFL. Rivers has worn the number 17 since late in junior high to honor his father, who wore that number when he played. As a senior, he was recruited by both Alabama and Auburn, but decided to attend North Carolina State, where he would have a better chance to start at quarterback. He graduated high school early and entered North Carolina State in January of 2000, attending the team’s spring practices later that semester. The decision to leave high school early and join the Wolfpack could not have gone better for the team or Rivers. He started all 51 games of his collegiate career, setting the all-time NCAA record. He played well from the beginning, but was amazing as a senior, completing 72.0% of his passes for 4,491 yards (10.1ypa) and passing for 34 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions.
Rivers was projected to be an early first-round selection in the NFL’s 2004 draft, but there were some questions about his arm strength and particularly his non-standard side arm throwing motion. Seventeen quarterbacks were taken in the draft, including four in the first round, three of whom (Rivers, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger) seem like locks for the Hall of Fame. The 2004 quarterback class has been compared favorably with the 1983 class, which included John Elway (1st), Jim Kelly (14th) and Dan Marino (27th).