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Should Philip Rivers Be In The NFL Hall Of Fame? Making The Case For The Former Chargers Quarterback

(CBSLA)- Former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers announced his retirement today in an interview given to the San Diego Union Tribune. Saying "it's just time" Rivers told the paper that while he still can throw it, he's "excited to go coach high school football."

With his retirement from the game, the 39-year-old Rivers leaves near the top of the leaderboards in a variety of categories. The question is, did he do enough in his 17-year NFL career to warrant induction into Canton and secure his place among the legends of the game?

The first thing people arguing against Rivers will focus on is the lack of Super Bowls and less than stellar playoffs record (5-7). However, the lack of the almighty "ringzzzz" hasn't been an eliminating factor in the past. Of the 20 Hall of Fame quarterbacks, five never won a Super Bowl: Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Fouts and Warren Moon. That's a full 25 percent of the inductees that don't have a ring to their name. Of that group, Fouts and Moon, like Rivers, never made a Super Bowl appearance.

For Rivers, the other counting stats are impressive.

  • 63,440 passing yards (5th all-time)
  • 421 passing touchdowns (5th all-time)
  • 95.2 career passer rating (12th all-time)
  • 64.9% completion percentage (14th all-time)
  • 29 career 4th quarter comebacks (10th all-time)

But, the question of Rivers candidacy is one of comparison. In his era, where did he fall among his peers at the position? Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning all won Super Bowls. He was named to an All-Pro team just twice, in 2009 and 2013. How many times over the past 17 years could you legitimately say that Rivers was the best at the position?

That's not his fault by any means. How the Hall of Fame committee evaluates this era of quarterbacks will offer some insight on how the goalposts have moved in response to the more wide open pass-friendly style of play in today's game.

All that said, another data point to consider is Pro Football Reference's Hall of Fame Monitor. The statistic, developed by the PFR team to measure a player's chances of making the Hall of Fame, lists Rivers with a score of 97.64. That is just slightly below the average for Hall of Fame quarterbacks which is a score of 101. Furthermore, among the currently active or recently retired peers for Rivers, he is behind only Peyton Manning, Brady, Rodgers and Brees in that Hall of Fame Monitor score.

He's ahead of contemporaries like Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. His score in that statistic is also ahead of current Hall of Famers Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Dan Fouts, Kurt Warner, Ken Stabler, Joe Namath, Sonny Jurgensen, Bob Griese, Warren Moon, Len Dawson, Troy Aikman and Jim Kelly.

In other words, PFR seems to like Rivers' chances of making it to Canton when he's eligible to do so.

One thing is clear. Rivers holds 21 different Chargers franchise records. He played through a torn ACL in the 2007 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, falling just short in that game. He remains one of the franchise's best players ever. Time will tell on his Hall of Fame credentials. But he will be remembered for a long time by Chargers fans.

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