INDIANAPOLIS – I’ll be back.
Back in January 2008—in the last game ever inside the RCA Dome—Philip Rivers, having just torn his ACL, looked up at the fans giving him the normal road game experience and uttered those three words.
Well, more than a decade later, and in a new stadium, Rivers will now be embraced by those same fans.
What a difference a jersey color makes.
“I remember that game like it was yesterday,” Rivers now says of that AFC Divisional Round win he had over the Colts. “I had plenty of interaction with the fans behind me that’s been well documented.
“I was walking off the field getting close to the tunnel with the fans hollering at me. I’ll never forget looking up and saying, ‘I’ll be back. I’ll be back.’ I never know it would ring this true that 12 years later I’d be back and one of them.”
Rivers says he always enjoyed being a road visitor in Indianapolis (of course, a 6-2 career record against the Colts helps).
In his 16 NFL seasons, Rivers has never made it to a Super Bowl. In fact, he’s attended the Super Bowl city the week of the game just once.
That came in 2012, in Indianapolis.
A stop in Knightstown, Indiana was on the agenda that week to see where ‘Hoosiers’—one of Rivers’ favorite movies—was filmed.
More so, Rivers’ appreciation for the fans in the Circle City is why he’s always been fond of the environment in Indianapolis.
“In a weird way, I’ve always loved the Colts and loved to play there,” Indy’s new QB says.
While some fans might have had initial pause at now having to ‘cheer’ for Rivers, Frank Reich points to one key trait of the new quarterback.
And that is something which will help him resonate inside of a new locker room.
“At his core, as much as anything, he is a great teammate,” Reich says of Rivers. “In his circle of personal identity, great teammate is way, way up there. That just comes out. It’s just going to come out and it’s just going to come out further when we get together.
“You just see the command that he has. He has such command on football, on the subject of football and X’s and O’s and the little nuances of what it takes to be great. Not only the schematic expertise but the game within the game expertise. This guy is brilliant, but he’s not just brilliant smart. He’s tough. There are many countless stories of his physical toughness and his mental toughness, so really excited to have Philip.”
Outside of Tom Brady, it’s probably fair to say Rivers has been the most disliked opposing quarterback of the Colts over the past 15 years.
Rivers gets that.
“I know it’s going to be different for them probably, but hopefully they can warm up to it in a hurry,” Rivers says. “I certainly will warm up to them quickly.
“I’m excited to be part of the fan base. I always loved playing Indy—a passionate, respectful, intelligent, crowd. They know football. I had some good games in Indy (and) some that were probably not so memorable for Colts fans.”
Now, after years of torment, the two parties are working together.