COSTA MESA, Calif. – It didn’t take Philip Rivers long to get into the Los Angeles swing of things. Like millions of others, he will commute to work, with a roughly two-hour drive each way.With a driver, though, so he can study for the Chargers’ next opponent.
Rivers and his wife weren’t looking forward to uprooting their eight children after the Chargers made the call to leave San Diego for L.A. So he’ll buckle up early and make the trek, hoping the jam-packed afternoon return trip isn’t too daunting.
“It’s tough, especially when you are further away from home,” Rivers said. “But I’m trying to just embrace it as that. This is the time to build camaraderie with the guys … sit and be around the guys more than I would.”
Rivers was never shy about being one of the guys. Among the reasons why he is such a popular teammate is that he’s a regular in the dominoes and card games; he never misses a chance to rib another player.
But as the Chargers make this transition, it will be interesting to see how it turns out for someone entering his 14th season. Especially someone who was such a creature of habit as Rivers.
Rivers, though, draws comfort in knowing he’ll be directing a Chargers offense that is loaded with weapons.That’s clear at training camp with running back Melvin Gordon breaking off long gains, wide receivers Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams snatching passes and Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry forming a dynamic duo at tight end.
“We have the talent,” Rivers said. “You don’t look around and go, ‘Gosh, we’re missing this. If we had one of that. We really need this. We’re almost there.'”I think you look at it, and that doesn’t mean I’m predicting us to win it all, but we have the talent. Now, it’s building the camaraderie, the toughness and the fight. All of those things, the togetherness and intangibles, and obviously you have to play well.”
And that hasn’t been the case the last two years as the Chargers managed but nine wins over 32 games. But most NFL observers agree the Chargers are primed to be a bounce-back team in 2017.
“I don’t walk out here and go, ‘Gosh, we’re going to fight like crazy, but we don’t quite have enough,'” Rivers said. “I think we have the pieces. Now, it’s a matter of a lot of things that have to fall your way, and that you have to earn.”
Rivers will earn his L.A. stripes in mimicking the locals with a healthy commute. But it’s the drive to reach his first Super Bowl that motivates Rivers, no matter the locale.