Philip Rivers ready for new Colts challenge


The baseball cap is well-worn. Dark and sweat-stained, the message on the front reads nunc coepi. It does not refer specifically to the Indianapolis Colts, Philip Rivers’ new team, nor his old one, the Los Angeles Chargers.

After 16 years as quarterback with the Chargers, at 38, Rivers signed a one-year contract with the Colts for $25 million. The other day, Rivers, who has not yet met many teammates face to face, introduced himself in another way, through a virtual press conference.

He wore a cap with the Latin words “nunc coepi” on the front and explained to him it translate to more “Now I begin.” His Alabama interpretation — he was born in Decatur — is that it represents never-ending new beginnings, or each time he begins again.

“Y’all will be tired of this hat by the end of this season probably,” Rivers said, “but it tends to be on my head most of the time unless I’m asleep.”

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

It definitely looks as if it has been.

“You are always beginning,” he said. “Now I begin again and again and again. If you ask any of my children (and he has nine of them), ‘What is dad’s favorite phrase? What is our family phrase?’ They would say it immediately.”

Rivers’ current, obvious, new beginning is his shift to the Colts after an entire career in California. He and his wife, Tiffany, just moved to Indiana, a major operation. The last time they moved across the country, it was just Rivers, wife and one child.

“Quite a different move with 11 of us,” he said, “but the transition has been smooth.”

That’s a phrase Colts coach Frank Reich and Colts fans hope to repeat from the team’s new beginning, hoping to make a major run in the 2020 season after last year’s 7-9 miss-the-playoffs conclusion.

Indianapolis made some surgical strikes in trades and potentially impactful picks in the draft. But signing Rivers was the highest profile personnel maneuver and likely the most critical addition.

Rivers and Reich bonded with the Chargers when Reich was offensive coordinator there. They figured working together clicked before, so why not do it again?

The COVID-19 pandemic, with athletes as well as many millions across the country hunkered down in homes, meant Rivers and his new teammates could hold get-to-know-you parties. Instead, they have communicated, worked out and been coached by technology.

However, Rivers has an extensive body of work to study, based on statistics and highlight film. The 6-foot-5, 228-pound quarterback is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, has thrown for 59,271 yards, for 397 touchdown passes and completed 64.9% of his attempts.

Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said Rivers excels at hitting tight ends and running backs.

“Yeah, where I think Philip is really outstanding, he has this great ability to find the running back out of the backfield whether we’re scheming for that guy or whether it just happens within a protection,” Sirianni said.

Rivers said the Zoom interaction has been productive, and he is not worried about turning the virtual world into the real world when he does start throwing to human beings.

“It has really exceeded expectations in terms of what we’ve been able to get done,” Rivers said. “It has been unbelievable, just seamless from different coaches presenting to different coaches sharing their screen and sharing video.”

The 2019 season was not Rivers’ finest, and there were rumblings more about him retiring rather than taking a one-year contract with another team as he did with the Colts.

As an icon with the Chargers’ franchise, owner of many team records and as an all-star who led the team to numerous satisfying results, Rivers admitted being doubted was annoying.

“At its core is that it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care,” Rivers said. “But at the same time, shoot, we’re all human. At times, I think what may have aggravated me a little bit last year was that, ‘I just couldn’t play anymore.’ When I heard that, it bothered me because I wanted to go, ‘Shoot, let’s turn on the tape and watch all the good things.’”

Rivers would not say he is motivated by having to prove himself, that the 2020 season is all about that for the Colts.

Only that it is nunc coepi, very much a new beginning.

Lew Freedman is the Sports Editor for The Tribune. Send comments to lfreedman@aim

No posts to display