Philip Rivers, one of the most prolific quarterbacks of the modern NFL era, has announced his retirement after 17 seasons in the league.
"I can sit here and say, 'I can still throw it. I love to play,'" Rivers told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But that's always going to be there. I'm excited to go coach high school football."
Rivers' most recent stop was the Indianapolis Colts, who he led to the AFC playoffs this season, where they lost to the Buffalo Bills in what proved to be the final game of the 39-year-old's career.
However, Rivers will forever be associated with the Chargers. He joined them in 2004 when they were based in San Diego and he played with them until the 2019 season, by which time they had moved to Los Angeles.
Rivers never managed to take the Chargers to the Super Bowl – and was often criticised for giving away turnovers at crucial moments – but he set franchise passing records in nearly every category possible, including yardage, touchdowns, passer rating and games played.
He was also considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league as a whole during his prime and was named to the Pro Bowl eight times. His 63,440 passing yards are the fifth-most in NFL history.
“I am grateful to the Chargers for 16 seasons, and the Colts for the 17th season,” Rivers said in a statement.
“Thank you to all my coaches that helped me grow as a player and person. Thanks to the support staff. I appreciate the opposing defenses making it challenging physically and mentally every week ... I also enjoyed the banter. I appreciate the referees for putting up with all my fussing. I think I was right most of the time dadgummit!
“Thanks to the fans in San Diego and around the nation that both cheered and booed. Special thanks to my teammates. Without a doubt my favorite part of the game, being a teammate. Thank you for being mine.
“Lastly, thank you to my wife and best friend Tiffany, and our children Halle, Caroline, Grace, Gunner, Sarah, Peter, Rebecca, Clare, and Anna. Could not have done it without y’all’s unwavering support.
A devout Catholic, Rivers told ESPN he wanted to announce his retirement on January 20th as it is the feast day of Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes.
"Every year, 20 January is a special and emotional day," Rivers said. "It is St Sebastian's feast day, the day I played in the AFC championship without an ACL, and now the day that after 17 seasons, I'm announcing my retirement from the National Football League. Thank you God for allowing me to live out my childhood dream of playing quarterback in the NFL."
Rivers was popular among fans for his intensity, combined with his unique fashion sense – he favoured bolo ties and gaudy belt buckles – and odd facial expressions, which launched a thousand themes.