It’s no snap judgment to speculate that center Scott Quessenberry would cheer Philip Rivers’ return to the Chargers in 2020.
If so Quessenberry, a La Costa Canyon High product, would likely get more return trips home. Rivers and Quessenberry, both North County residents, occasionally carpool together south after Chargers games. Make that vanpool as Rivers’ custom ride is outfitted with video equipment so the quarterback can study rivals during his commute.
While Quessenberry is expected back next season, the same can’t be said for Rivers. After 13 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and three more with the Los Angeles Chargers, this longtime bolt just might jolt.
After the Chargers chalked up their third losing season in five years, Rivers’ statistics drawing attention for all the wrong reasons and his contract at its end, might his days with the Chargers be numbered?
“I think it’s probably human nature, when you’re 38 and you throw some interceptions and games don’t go the way you want them to, (to think) that it can just become the norm,’’ Rivers said. “That’s just what people say — you can’t make the throws you used to make, you can’t do this, arm strength, all of that. None of that’s true.”
What Rivers can confirm is that he wants another chance at sneaking a pass past Father Time. Rivers still has the desire to continue and he’s made that clear in this disappointing season’s final weeks.
“Am I capable of it, physically and mentally? There’s no question,” he stressed. “Yes, I do want to play football.”
While Rivers is on board, the Chargers have yet to tip their hand. It’s a complicated procedure in managing a star as the curtain closes on a decorated career. It’s also a tricky patch of landscape in which the Chargers struggle.
Remember Hall of Famer Dan Fouts? His retirement after the 1987 season came at his home without the Chargers participating. Junior Seau was shown the door and finished with the Miami Dolphins. LaDainian Tomlinson was released and bad-mouthed by then-general manager A. J. Smith.
There are other instances but the one that is in the forefront is Rivers, the ironman of the team and the heart-and-soul of the offense.
What makes Rivers’ situation particularly challenging is the nuance of the team relocating to SoFi Stadium, with the L.A. Rams, in Inglewood next season.
Are the Chargers, a product which is as about as popular as Sigalerts in the L.A. region, going to try and peddle their product minus a marquee player?
Is a business which the consumers have stated has no business in L.A. going to introduce a new quarterback while attempting to lure new customers?
L.A. fans are fickle in that they like a winner, embrace stars and want to be entertained. Rivers at least checks off the second box and if given the sufficient complementary parts, he can be a winner and entertaining, too.
Have Rivers’ skills diminished? His numbers say so. But before saying “so long” just be sure what’s coming through the door to replace him isn’t a considerable step down.
After Fouts retired those trying to fill his cleats were challenged. Those that tracked the Chargers back then can remember, and not so fondly, the parade of Mark Malone, Babe Laufenberg, Mark Vlasic, Jim McMahon, Billy Joe Tolliver and John Friesz.
The cold spell was snapped when Stan Humphries was acquired in 1992 and led the Chargers to their only Super Bowl to cap 1994. But those were some lean years between Fouts and Humphries and the Chargers could be on the verge of trying to cross another long bridge if Rivers is pushed aside.
Rivers, in our eyes, still has something left in the tank. Rivers’ return would also keep Quessenberry from having to gas-up to get home.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports