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Philip Rivers' offseason job? Playcaller for son's football team

Friday 22 June, 2018 | RSS Feed

Philip Rivers' offseason job? Playcaller for son's football team

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TEMECULA, Calif. -- Philip Rivers had been in this position before, his team driving for the winning score with only minutes remaining.

But in this instance, the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback was not under center. That job was taken by his son, Gunner, during a flag football tournament over Father's Day weekend.

Coach Philip Rivers was drawing up a play on a small whiteboard inside the huddle.

As 10-year-old son Gunner and his teammates headed out to the field after receiving instructions, Rivers frantically motioned for them to return.

"Hey, get back here!" an exasperated Philip said. "I've got to give you the second play."
The drive stalled and the game ended in a tie. However, that did not stop Philip from having some fun coaching from the sideline.

"It's special," Philip said, when asked about coaching Gunner. "Still to this day -- and thankfully I've had a lot of fun games and highlights, won a lot of games and lost some, too, on the biggest stages in pro and college -- but some of my most favorite memories are still playing high school football for my dad.

"I hope to do the same coaching my two boys. But even now it's special with this age group."

Philip played for his father, Steve Rivers, at Athens High school in Alabama. At 36, Philip still has two years left on his contract and would like to play for a few more years. But once his playing days are over, Philip said he intends to follow his father's example and coach his kids.

Philip and his wife Tiffany have six girls -- Halle, Sarah Catherine, Caroline, Grace, Rebecca and Clare -- and two boys, Peter and Gunner.

For now, Philip will have to settle on being an assistant coach calling the plays on Gunner's flag football team, aptly named the Chargers.

"This is just kind of the beginning of it," Philip said. "I think he likes it. I know he likes football, but I think he likes me coaching him. It's fun to be out here coaching the boys and kind of share the sport that I love, and that he's growing to love, and get to kind of do it together."
Dan Cella is the team's head coach. A lifelong, die-hard Chargers fan, Cella started the team four years ago after meeting former Chargers safety Eric Weddle at a local L.A. Fitness.

The two fathers had sons around the same age and created a flag football team, with Weddle calling the offense and Cella calling the defense. They won the championship the first year they put the team together.

Rivers later joined them, and took over offensive playcalling duties two years ago when Weddle signed with the Baltimore Ravens in free agency.
Detroit Lions receiver Marvin Jones also had his son, Marvin III, playing on the team this past season, which took home the title for a second time.

"To come across these guys, have an opportunity to meet them, spend as much time and become friends with them, it really is surreal," Cella said. "I do have to kind of pinch myself from time to time. But the reality is they're regular guys and awesome human beings."

Weddle's oldest son, Gaige, returned from Baltimore this summer and joined his teammates for the Father's Day weekend tournament. The elder Rivers and Weddle served as captains and played together for nine seasons in San Diego.

"The relationship that Phil and I have is so close, and now we get to build that bond even more by coaching our sons and having them on the same team," Weddle said. "When I was out here it was nice to have him out there to talk routes or talk ball.

"As the years progressed, now Phil's taking over my spot, which is awesome. They've built that thing up to a powerhouse, and it's just a special, unique bond that we share."

Weddle consulted with Philip on some play calls over the weekend, taking credit for a deep pass late that went for a score.

"He suggested it," Philip said about the play. "It's fun. He's as competitive as anybody there is, too. But I didn't tell him we've run that slant-and-go a handful of times already this year."

Added Weddle: "You can give him credit, but he and I both know who called the play. That was the E-Dub special."

Gunner has a quirky, three-quarter release when he throws the ball that looks eerily similar to his father slinging it on game days.

"It's crazy," Philip said. "You heard my story a million times growing up trying to throw a high school football from a young age. He's had the youth football from a young age, but it's the same.

"I remember earlier saying to him, 'Hey, just raise it up a little bit.' But he was like, "That's how you do it,' so I've got no problem with it. He's doing just fine. He does have an ability to see things early and kind of throw things early and anticipate, and I don't know if you can coach some of that -- it's God-given. So it's going to be kind of fun to see what type of player he turns into."





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