Rivers is real Kevin Acee December 27, 2007 So many e-mails, so many questions in the mailbag. I thought I'd just give my take on the hyper QB here. I cannot stress enough how great a guy Philip Rivers is. I say that not because he makes my job easier and more enjoyable. I say it because it is the truth. He is not a poor sport or in any way the ugly trash talker some are portraying. I defend him (if that's what you want to call it) because I know that he's real. He is who he is. And it is what makes him who he is -- on the field, in the locker room, at practice. He just loves the game and plays it all out. Nope, he has not yet won a playoff game. (He's 0-1 in the postseason.) But after 31 regular-season starts, he has won 24 times. He has an 86.8 passer rating and has thrown 41 touchdown passes to 24 interceptions in those 31 starts. Sure, as Champ Bailey noted, he is surrounded by great players. Rivers is fortunate to have LT, Antonio Gates and now Chris Chambers. But Rivers is also a very good quarterback. He has struggled this year. He is not a Pro Bowler. But he makes throws and decisions that reveal he is a fine QB. And he is tougher than many. As for how Rivers acts on the field, his talking and gesturing is part of his play. It always has been. I'd imagine it always will be. The comment I hear most often is that Rivers should stop talking and concentrate on playing better. Do people who say that think he is not spending 80 hours a week working on being better? Do they think if he stopped yapping, he'd automatically be better. I argue that he might be worse. I used to cover a guy named Jim Edmonds, who had something of the opposite "problem" as Rivers. His teammates and Angels management wondered aloud again and again how good a player Edmonds would be if he just tried harder, was more passionate about the game. Thing was, Edmonds was the most exciting and most clutch baseball player I ever covered on a daily basis. When the rest of the Angels were collapsing in September of 1998, he was batting something like .380. His argument (and mine) was that if he were a different guy, he wouldn't be as good a player. I'm not saying everything Rivers says or does is brilliant or even advised. But honestly, if Rivers were a linebacker, no one would even notice. As he said yesterday, if he were to give me a list of all the things that were said on the field Monday night by every player, "It would be longer than the Mitchell Report." He does not talk about people's mom's or wives. He doesn't curse. "To think of what is said on the field that is way worse than anything out of my mouth is unimaginable," Rivers said. He has all the respect in the world for Champ Bailey. "You don't go after the guy," Rivers said. But he loves to have fun and considers that fun part of the game. When he does complete a pass on Bailey, if Bailey looks at him, Rivers said he will grin "like, 'Hey we got you.' It's always been a very respectful communication between me and him." He noted that maybe Bailey hasn't taken it that way. Rivers was honestly surprised by the hubbub over what happened Monday. He said he took no offense to what anyone said to him or his teammates. Recalling Jamie Winborn hollering about Lorenzo Neal on Monday, Rivers said, "So what? I would have done that too. It's fun." I promise you he is like that pretty much every moment of the day. Quite a few times I have gotten irritated at him for interrupting an interview by walking by and making fun of me or his teammate that I'm trying to talk to. The reasons this is an issue is because ESPN had about a million cameras at that game and the game was a blowout and Rivers was on the sideline. And because he is a quarterback, people think he shouldn't act this way. As he reminded me last night of his high school career, "I used to be a linebacker."