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Philip Rivers Announces His Retirement
Philip Rivers, who came to the NFL and San Diego in a draft-day trade in 2004 and played quarterback for the Chargers all but his final season in the NFL, will announce his retirement today.

“It’s just time,” Rivers told San Diego Union-Tribune staffer Kevin Acee late Tuesday night from his home in Indianapolis, where earlier this month he completed his only season with the Colts. “It’s just right.”

Rivers, who wore No. 17 throughout his 17 seasons, played in 244 games, starting the final 240 of those without interruption. That streak is the second longest ever by an NFL quarterback behind Brett Favre’s 297.

His retirement comes 13 years to the day since Rivers played in the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots just six days after undergoing surgery to remove the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Rivers, 39, finishes his career ranked fifth all-time with 63,440 passing yards and 421 touchdown passes.

“I can sit here and say, ‘I can still throw it. I love to play,’ ” Rivers said. “But that’s always going to be there. I’m excited to go coach high school football.”

Rivers’ hiring as the head football coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Ala., effective when he retired, was announced last May. He spoke Tuesday night of being on campus in time to get to know his players before spring football.

“What has helped me come to this (decision) is the growing desire to coach high school football,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been growing. I can’t wait.”

Rivers helped lead the Colts to an 11-5 record and playoff berth this season, topping 4,000 passing yards for the eighth straight season and 12th time in his career. His final pass was a Hail Mary in Buffalo that fell short of the end zone in the Colts’ 27-24 loss to the Bills in an AFC Wild Card game.

It was the seventh playoff trip as a starting quarterback for Rivers, who never made it to a Super Bowl. He assumed the starting job in 2006 and went to the playoffs with the Chargers six times, including every year from ’06-09 and again in ’13 while the team was in San Diego.

“It was awesome,” Rivers said of his career. “A young kid from Northern Alabama who grew up wanting to play pro ball. I got to do it.”

While he said he is “100 percent at peace” with his decision, Rivers knows he will miss the camaraderie of a locker room and the huddle, matching wits and exchanging words (always G-rated on his end) with defenses and little things like banging helmets with his offensive linemen before the first series of a game.

Beyond that, as notes, Rivers was never able to make it to a Super Bowl with the Chargers or Colts, which is the biggest missing piece of an otherwise standout career that came to an end on Wednesday.

As noted above, Rivers was a major part of the famous 2004 NFL Draft, in which the San Diego Chargers selected Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning with the first-overall pick, while the New York Giants selected Rivers at No. 4 overall. But Manning had said he would refuse to play for the Chargers, so San Diego and New York swapped their first-round signal callers.

Rivers would go on to become the most prolific passer in Chargers history. In his 16 seasons with the team, he completed 4,908-of-7,591 passes (64.7 percent) for 59,271 yards and 397 touchdowns — all franchise records. He was also selected to eight Pro Bowls.

Rivers' decision to retire makes the Colts a prime destination for any veteran QB looking for a winning club this offseason. The pieces are there in Indy to make a deep postseason run. The question is whether Indy GM Chris Ballard will once again corral a veteran signal-caller or skew younger this time around.