There are only two things I can't stand in this world. People who hate other people they don’t really know and Philip Rivers.
Speaking of Rivers, the Chargers quarterback, NC State alum and a person who was so heavily coveted by former Steelers head coach—and fellow NC State alum—Bill Cowher leading up to the 2004 NFL Draft, Cowher almost did the unthinkable and not draft Ben Roethlisberger after Rivers went fourth, overall, I actually found myself cheering for him several times down the stretch of the 2018 regular season and into the playoffs.
Why would I do something so disgusting, so against my moral fiber? Rivers is just so darn obnoxious, a person who called LaMarr Woodley fat before Steelers fans thought it fashionable to do so.
Even an ex girlfriend of mine, someone who once thought a Pirate hit an inside the park home run because the ball went off the foul pole and landed back on the grass of PNC Park, knew of my contempt for Rivers way back in the day—”Rivers, isn’t that the quarterback you really hate, honey?”
Yes, my dear, it was....and still is.
So, again, why would I allow myself to root for such a man?
As Pittsburgh struggled down the stretch of the regular season, I think most fans took comfort in knowing the Ravens, the team closing in fast on first place in the AFC North, had road games remaining against both the Chiefs and Chargers to close out the year.
Two weeks after narrowly losing at Kansas City in overtime, the Ravens found themselves in Los Angeles to take on a Chargers team that had just defeated the Chiefs at Arrowhead and had a legit chance at the number one seed in the AFC.
The game took place on the night of December 22, 2018. It was a Saturday, and I was having some beers with a friend at Riley’s Pour House in Carnegie. I was so nervous about this game, I didn’t even allow myself to look up at the screen and hoped my fellow Steelers fans sitting at the bar wouldn’t ruin the evening with bad news.
They did. You know what they said? “I love how the Chargers have no interest in beating the Ravens and helping the Steelers out.”
Yeah, because the Chargers would much rather go into the playoffs as the fifth seed, have no home games at all and play three weeks in a row just to make it to the Super Bowl than have to deal with those totally dangerous—except against the Raiders—Steelers in the postseason.
After the Ravens defeated Los Angeles and Pittsburgh lost to the Saints the next day, I finally accepted that the handwriting was on the wall with regards to the Steelers making the playoffs (well, there was that strange week when I and many other Steelers fans rooted for the Browns).
But the consolation prize was cheering on the Chargers in the playoffs for some reason, mainly because they were taking on the Ravens and Patriots in back-to-back games.
As I watched Los Angeles easily dispose of the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Wildcard Weekend (hmmm, maybe there was something to that whole not wanting the Steelers in the playoffs theory, after all), I found myself screaming things like, “Come on, that was roughing the passer, ref!!!!” And the quarterback I was sticking up for wasn’t Big Ben, it was Philip freakin’ Rivers.
Last week, I enlisted Rivers help in taking care of the seemingly annual task of preventing New England from capturing a sixth Lombardi trophy, thus allowing Steelers fans to continue to win most Internet arguments.
Unfortunately, Rivers and the rest of the Chargers played so terribly against the Patriots in the divisional round at Gillette Stadium, my friend got disgusted at halftime and made me watch a show called Fringe (that Anna Torv is a real looker).
Now I feel gross, gross for cheering for a man I’ve always had contempt for.
Never again, never again will I do such a thing....unless it helps the Steelers make the playoffs in 2019, of course.