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Two Alabama towns saw Coach Rivers' boy flourish

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by rexy2006, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. rexy2006

    rexy2006 Well-Known Member

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    How 'Bout That Son Rise?

    Two Alabama towns saw Coach Rivers' boy flourish

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    By Kevin Acee
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    September 10, 2006 ATHENS, Ala. – Here, just 15 miles from the Tennessee border but smack in the heart of Alabama, where high school football can still bring 10,000 to the local stadium, it becomes clear just why Philip Rivers is who he is.
    His current teammates talk about how he instantly took over as a leader. Here, that begins to make sense. And it was anything but instant.
    Here is where the roots extend, where the mold was made for a man who waited quietly but fidgety as the Chargers' No. 2 quarterback, where he was brought up to be a leader.
    See, here it becomes obvious that he was destined for the moment that is finally upon him. That much is certain here, plain as Southern sincerity.
    It takes but a couple days here, where cotton used to be king and the name Rivers still carries a semblance of royalty, to figure out who the Chargers' quarterback has always been.
    If the Chargers win the Super Bowl with Rivers as their quarterback, the lifting of the Lombardi Trophy will have begun here, where everyone who knew him knew there was no stopping him.
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    Rivers actually spent his first 13 years in Decatur, but that's beside the point to anyone in Athens.
    “They both claim him,” said Daniel Mose, Rivers' former junior high basketball coach in Decatur.
    Decatur High is where Steve Rivers coached football for more than two decades, including the first 13 years of Philip's life. Decatur, some 15 miles south and across the Tennessee River from Athens, is where Philip began to assimilate all it meant to be a football player, a teammate and a leader. For anyone worried the NFL is going to be too big for Rivers, it should be pointed out that he knew more about this game by fifth grade than you know now.
    It was a different level certainly, but Rivers has always been ahead of the curve.
    He was at his dad's practices every day, sticking his head in huddles, sitting in on meetings and comprehending it all.
    One of Philip's first memories – he was no older than 7 – is of watching an assistant coach teach the option to the team's quarterback. Philip soaked it up and went home and taught it to his parents that evening.
    “Ride it right here and there it is,” he told them as he demonstrated the proper way to fake the dive and read the end.
    He did that kind of thing all the time.
    Whenever Philip would play ball in the back yard – which was whenever it was daylight – it wasn't with the tree or some rock as out of bounds. He would line the field. There would be Gatorade in the cooler. He would bring home pylons from the high school for the end zones.
    “He wanted everything to be right,” Steve Rivers said.
    Sure, coaches' kids are often around the field. But they don't all make it their business to actually help coach.
    “He had an ability to communicate and understand the situation,” said Allen Creasy, now Athens High's head coach and a longtime assistant to Steve Rivers. “In practice, he would be sitting there listening to the play call. He knew the entire offense at 10 years old. He lived it. That has to do with being a coach's son. But I'm a coach's son, and I wasn't like that at 10 years old.”
    Everyone in Decatur remembers young Philip the ball boy. He was always in the middle of the action. His favorite time was when the ball was at one end of the field, beyond where coaches were allowed to venture down the sideline. That meant he got to signal to them the distance for a first down. When his dad would have words with an official, Philip was there listening. When the officials huddled to discuss a call, Philip was in the middle of the gathering.
    So it was not surprising a few weeks back at the end of the first half of the Chargers' final exhibition game. Schottenheimer was letting the refs have it for what he felt were some bogus calls, and there was Rivers, wide-eyed and on Schottenheimer's shoulder.
    “I want to hear everything,” Rivers said. “I just want to be in the action. That's how I've always been. I don't know any other way.”
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    Steve Rivers left Decatur and took the job as Athens High football coach the summer before Philip began high school.
    A little more than a month later, Athens opened the season against Decatur in a close Athens loss. That night, Steve and Philip returned to their new home, which was still pretty bare. Philip, a freshman, did not play in the game. He helped on the sideline. Having built so much in Decatur but already with a strong sense of loyalty to the new school, father and son went in the den, sat down on the floor and had a good cry.
    They recall that night as an end and a beginning. It is recalled here to illustrate a compassion both men share. Theirs is a bond so deep Philip still calls his dad almost every day.
    Steve Rivers is reluctant to take any credit for his part in his son's accomplishments, but there is no denying the relationship helped the son flourish.
    The physical resemblance is clear. The voices are almost identical. The mannerisms are the same, right down to the friendly backhand that punctuates many sentences.
    And while family members say Philip got his fierce competitiveness from his mother Joan's side of the family, his football acumen and leadership came from Steve.
    “Philip is very much like his dad,” Creasy said. “Coach Rivers was the best at handling people I've ever been around.”
    From the time he was 6, maybe younger, that's what Philip saw. To this day, those times when Philip was simply around, riding the bus, working on the sideline, are his dad's favorite times in 33 years of coaching.
    “Some of my fondest memories about Philip are from when he was a ball boy,” Steve said. “He had so much fun. I would fire him two or three times a game.”
    Joan would worry about Philip being around all those high school boys. Steve told her: “He's going to hear some bad things. He's going to hear some good things.”
    Former coaches – and even those who watched from the stands – remember a kid who gave respect and commanded it simply by being who he was.
    “He was like a coach on the field,” said Wayne Carwile, a barber in downtown Athens. “You could see him direct players all over.”
    Said Mose, the middle school basketball coach: “He was the one everyone (copied). Any time we'd break a huddle, it was always Philip who would say 'Let's go, guys.' He was the one giving pep talks. He always had that leadership ability in him, because it was instilled in him. Coach Rivers planted that seed in Philip. He's never a stranger in any situation. It's his personality. It's the way he grew up.”
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    Creasy watched film of Rivers one afternoon a while back and could hardly stop laughing. The parts that cracked up the coach were not of Rivers playing quarterback – though his throwing motion then made his current release look positively overhand. The tape that is so entertaining is of a 6-foot, 170-pound Rivers playing linebacker.
    “He was slow,” Creasy said. “Boy, was he slow.”
    Rivers' sophomore year, Athens had a senior quarterback. There was little doubt Rivers was the better of the two, but there was no way Steve Rivers was going to upset team chemistry by starting his 10th-grade son at quarterback.
    So Philip played linebacker. He played it well, too.
    “He was slow and he was weak, but he always got in the right place to make tackles,” Creasy said.
    Indeed, tape of one playoff game shows Rivers making play after play, including two interceptions. On one of the picks, Rivers is downfield out of position, but he's there to get a deflection.
    “He's down there for I don't know what reason,” Creasy said.
    But that's how it always was.
    “Even at that stage Philip had an innate sense of the game,” Creasy said. “He wasn't fast enough to play the position, but he had a feel for the game. He anticipated well.”
    That season at linebacker and the next two playing safety – even as he played quarterback – Rivers remembers as helping ramp up his football intelligence. He led the state with 10 interceptions as a senior.
    Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles rarely passed, and there was not overwhelming interest in Rivers as a quarterback.
    Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville came to an Athens playoff game Rivers' senior season and asked Steve Rivers before the game, “Going to throw the ball tonight?”
    Steve Rivers replied: “Coach, we're going to do what we need to win.”
    The Eagles threw eight times. Rivers completed seven. He also made two interceptions on defense, one directly in front of Tuberville along the sideline.
    During the game, Steve Rivers recalls, Philip at one point told his dad: “Don't throw. Keep on running. We're killing them.” Said Steve: “He made it easy with that type of attitude. He knows what it is to be a teammate. He really cares about those guys.”
     
  2. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Thank you, I enjoyed this article. :tup: :icon_toast:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. rexy2006

    rexy2006 Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome!

    Gotta get good mojo goin for

    MONDAYNIGHTFREAKINFOOTBALL!!!

    :bolt: GO CHARGERS!!!:bolt:
     
  4. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    Good read !!!! :icon_banana: :tup:
     
  5. turbo_turtle

    turbo_turtle In Disguise

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    Not just a good read but a great read in my opinion.:tup:

    :bolt: Go Chargers #17 QB San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers:bolt:

    :bolt: :icon_mrgreen: Go and kick some Cell block turd at the black hole that is Oakland.:icon_mrgreen: :bolt:
     
  6. AthensPhilipRiversFan

    AthensPhilipRiversFan Well-Known Member

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    rexy....i LUV this article and the writer nailed it. perfectly. honest to God reading it brought tears to my eyes. i am so hyped and so happy and SO proud of this young man. i drug myself out to the local Athens game Friday night despite a fever and being extremely sore. we won again this week and are now 2-0. watching a different #17 on the field is hard but the young man who wears it gives it all or nothing every week. you can't help but love it. the #17 mojo just seems to rub off on the whole team and the person wearing it. not unusual but in the stands and during halftime and after the game...what was the main topic of conversation??? Rivers leading the Bolts and the game agains the Raiders on MNF. This lil town is sooooooooooooooooooo ready to watch our homeboy do that voodoo that we know that he knows how to do...oh so well.
     

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