Philip Rivers: Faith, Family, and Football

Recently on Morning Air, John Morales had the great privilege of hosting 8x Pro Bowler and former quarterback for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts, Philip Rivers.

Rivers played for NC State University for 4 years and in the NFL for 17 seasons, during which he accumulated a laundry list of accomplishments: 2000 ACC Rookie of the Year, 2002 Second-Team All-ACC, 2003 First-team All-ACC, 2003 ACC Offensive Player of the Year & Player of the Year, 2004 ACC Athlete of the Year, 2008 NFL Passer Rating Leader & Passing TDs co-leader, 2010 NFL Passing Yards Leader, and 2013 NFL Completion Percentage Leader. Rivers also holds the NFL record for the most consecutive completions and the most consecutive games with a passer rating above 120.

But as decorated as Rivers is in the ACC and the NFL, perhaps no accomplishment is as valuable or important as his Catholic Faith. Rivers was born on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and was raised a devout Catholic by Steve and Joan Rivers in Decatur, Alabama. Steve was a football coach when Philip was a kid, so football has been a big part of Philip’s life since he was a young kid.

Philip said that when he was in 5th grade, he made a poster of his dreams and aspirations. On the poster he put three things: he wanted a younger brother, he wanted to grow up and play for his dad, and he wanted to go to the NFL. Fast forward to today, and Rivers has gotten the chance to not only play in the NFL but leave behind one of the most respected legacies of any franchise quarterback in NFL history.

“I have to say, getting to put a checkmark next to all three of those and now getting to coach my boys in high school football, it’s coming full circle.” Rivers is now the coach at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Alabama and he’s getting the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps as he began to do as a young quarterback wearing #17, just like his dad.

He recalls being given the opportunity to play for his dad, it was a very formational period in his life as it is for all boys. Having his father there to guide him and teach him through the sport of football was an unbelievable blessing. Now, he gets to do the same for his sons. Rivers expressed his gratitude at being able to do so at a Catholic high school where the faith is such an integral part of everything they do there, especially sports.

“Being at a Catholic high school, [our faith] is part of the very fabric of our football program, and certainly a part of the mission of the school,” said Rivers. “Getting to be at a Catholic high school and coach these young men, we talk about the ‘whole young man’ all the time: spiritually, physically, emotionally, academically. If it’s just about the football, then we’re missing out. And that’s what I have such a passion for, coaching at this level. It’s way bigger than the football. You want them to be better men for it when they come out of the program.”

In his final moments of the show, Rivers expressed his eternal gratitude for his Catholic faith which played such a foundational role in his value of the family, which in turn led to his love for football growing up with his dad. From a very young age, Rivers learned one unforgettable piece of advice: “We don’t miss Mass on Sundays.” Our faith comes before all else, even football.

As Rivers grew, he began to develop a spiritual life that led to him taking on a more intellectual outlook on his faith, making the faith his own, as he said. Learning to embrace God’s call to simple obedience was life-changing for Rivers as he entered new stages of his life: getting married, guiding his wife through her conversion to Catholicism, playing in the NFL while raising nine kids, leaving California for Indianapolis, and finally his retirement. All throughout his life, God has been there to walk him through it.

“Stay grounded in the sacraments…You mentioned all the blessings. We could talk about the football ones forever, but I think the blessings from God on our family and our faith would certainly supersede those by a longshot,” said Rivers. “Stay grounded in the sacraments.”

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.