The Brink’s truck has dumped Spanos cash into Rivers’ bank account

Posted: 08/24/2009 in football
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Two weeks ago today, I predicted that Philip Rivers would be soon receiving a lot of cash to remain the starting quarterback of the San Diego Chargers.

The transaction occurred Tuesday with Rivers signing for a reported $93 million over six seasons, including $38 million in guaranteed dollars (

As I said previously ( the Chargers had little choice but to give Rivers a large contract, particularly since the Super Bowl hopes of the current group of players live and die with Rivers.

Let Rivers get away and that Super Bowl window that has already slid downward a few notches would all but slam shut. The Chargers couldn’t lose Rivers and then try to tutor a new quarterback without risking that they were blowing any chance of reaching a Super Bowl.

As you probably are well aware, Super Bowls and Chargers aren’t usually mentioned in the same breath unless the story is about Chargers’ players partying in the city hosting the Super Bowl. Game day isn’t the time to find the Chargers, as the franchise has made just one appearance in the NFL’s showcase game — and it was a highly embarrassing day as the San Francisco 49ers routed the Chargers.

So now is the time for the Chargers to make their big push. The AFC West is so weak that the Chargers are the lone legitimate contender from the division. And as Chargers general manager A.J. Smith will tell you, just getting to the playoffs is half the battle: You can’t win a world championship if you don’t get a postseason invitation.

The choice was simple: Load up Rivers’ bank account with lots of money from the Spanos family or prepare to watch that window reach the bottom of the window sill without a Super Bowl appearance.

Yes, I’m aware that resigning Rivers doesn’t assure anything. You might recall the Minnesota Vikings signed Daunte Culpepper to a contract worth $103 million in 2003 and that didn’t pan out very well at all.

For all we know, Rivers could wilt under the pressure of a big-money deal. He didn’t always handle the pressure well in the early part of the 2007 season when his second season as an NFL starter was hitting lots of bumps. Better players than Rivers have collapsed after landing an insanely rich contract.

But when it comes down to it, Rivers is easily the most important player in the organization. The Chargers considered releasing LaDainian Tomlinson after last season and seem to be ready to show linebacker Shawne Merriman the exit door in the near future.

The Chargers’ playoff window doesn’t close because there’s a new featured running back or if rookie Larry English eventually replaces Merriman. But it would have closed if Rivers had gotten away.

There’s a reason why Billy Volek is a career backup and wasn’t even moderately coveted after his one quarter of Chargers’ fame in the playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts two seasons ago. And going the development route with a rookie might have taken three or four seasons (remember Rivers didn’t become a starter until his third NFL season) as the rest of the core players aged.

All those things worked to Rivers’ advantage as he landed the richest contract in club history.  He had all the leverage.

For it to be a good deal for the Chargers comes down to one thing: Does Philip Rivers win a Super Bowl ring as the team’s quarterback?


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