Rivers' season begins in the black

There is no longer a gray area when eyeing Philip Rivers' career as a starting quarterback -- the Black Hole awaits.

Rivers, a third-year pro, makes his NFL starting debut Monday night when the Chargers travel to Oakland to face the Raiders.

Some thought this day would never come for Rivers -- at least not with San Diego. Rivers was drafted fourth overall by the New York Giants, then peddled to the Chargers.

But in front of him was Drew Brees, who earned Pro Bowl status and directed the Chargers to their first AFC West title since 1994 during the team years Rivers was relegated to a bench-warmer.

But those splinters -- and Brees -- are gone. Now all eyes are turned to Rivers, and what a place to get an NFL baptism -- in front of some of the league's most vocal and rowdiest fans.

Rivers, though, doesn't shy away from the challenge. In fact, he kind of embraces it as the Chargers start their journey that they hope leads to the playoffs for only the second time since 1995.

"It'll be hostile and it will be crazy," Rivers said. "You can be poised and control the environment and thrive off of it. Or it can rattle you. I think this team, we'll be able to handle the situation."

The Chargers head for Oakland with a heavy heart.

Starting outside linebacker Steve Foley was wounded by an off-duty police officer on Sunday morning, and has been lost for the year.

The Chargers can't hide their sorrow. But they also can't hide the calendar and it shows it's time to play. Especially this week, which is known as Raider Week around here.

"We got to start moving on," said Shaun Phillips, the linebacker replacing Foley. "Both those days off were tough because he is like a big brother to me. I just kept thinking about it over and over again.

"As everything goes forward, it will get easier. Our prayers are still with him but we got to prepare for a long season. We can't keep dwelling on it or we will be 0-16.

"The football season is here now. You can't run from it and when you are on the field that is all you can think about."

Coach Marty Schottenheimer said the football field could help ease the sorrow.

"I really think the very best place to be is out there," he said. Rivers is just happy he's out there -- even if that means dipping his NFL starting toe into the water just east of San Francisco Bay.

"I think it is just how we would draw it up: it's a division opponent, it's a rival, it's Monday night. We couldn't really ask for a better setting and a better way to kick things off."


SD Super Chargers Top Stories