The Real Story Behind Rivers and the Chargers

The San Diego Chargers are gloating. They got their man Philip Rivers and could not be happier. <br><br> "The young man played in five Bowl games if you include the Senior Bowl and he was MVP in each one of those games," Marty Schottenheimer said with a grin.

Rivers cites the Senior Bowl as the turning point in a relationship that eventually brought him to San Diego when the Chargers consummated a deal with the New York Giants to secure his rights.

"The opportunity to see me in the huddle, see me in the film room, how the guys reacted to me – can I get guys motivated – those things you cant see on tape," Rivers confided. "From day one the communication was great. How they taught and how I was able to react to what they taught. It just went perfectly and meshed together."

"(The Chargers staff) took the approach that this is our team and we are operating it like the NFL approaching a game. I know it is a little bit different but I think they went about it that way."

From then it was a visit to his school in North Carolina to watch his pro day and take him to dinner.

What happened during that pro day that sealed the deal?

"The one here at NC State, it wasn't a private workout with just the Chargers, it was just my NC State pro Day. At first they wanted to do that, but with the Senior Bowl it was pretty much a private workout. Zeke Bratkowski, a longtime NFL great – that is who I was working with all offseason so he ran the workout. He had a script and he passed it out to all the coaches. These are the routes we are going to throw and at the end if anybody else wants anything you ask and we will do it.

"So that was kind of how it operated. It went smoothly. I had some wide receivers, one from my school Jericho Cotchery, from Duke a running back, a wide receiver from St. Augustine's. It worked out good. You gear up for it so much that you can over prepare for it. You just go out and have a good time. What you are is what they are going to see. You just go out and be yourself and try hard and work hard and everything will work out fine."

And did anyone ask to see more than what was scripted?

"The QB coach from the 49ers wanted me to stand flatfooted with my toes on the line facing north or south without moving my feet and they kept backing receivers up. That was after I had thrown about 70-something balls, you get a little tired. We got to fifty yards, which isn't bad after all the throwing anyway.

"Having Zeke there was really good. He had done it so many times, so he knew what routes they wanted and we went through the whole tree of every route and left no stones unturned."

And what about the influence of Zeke, what did he bring to the table?

"A typical coach. ‘Relax, you are doing good.' Just continue to coach me along. Certainly you are out there and there are fifty plus coaches around. You are so worked up and we have done those routes a million times but you get out here and it is game time and you have to perform."

Rivers admits he had an edge over others because he was on the sidelines during his freshman, sophomore and junior years. He was the player looking over the scouts shoulder to get the latest forty times and was excited to finally get his turn.

"I was well prepared because of how much I paid attention to it."

Rivers now has begun preparations for the 2004 season as a member of the Chargers. Prepare well and he may be the starting quarterback. His past track record indicates that to be the likely scenario.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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