Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates after throwing a 28 yard touchdown pass against the Bears in preseason on Aug. 14, 2010.
Warriors don’t inspire folk songs during peacetime. Actors don’t win Oscar’s based on dress rehearsals.
Kings aren’t crowned on merit. Doctors aren’t measured in medical school. Professors aren’t tenured in office hours.
When the ordinary is acceptable and the scoreboard doesn’t matter, character does.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers shouldn't have done what he did Saturday night. He should have lost interest once that football was stripped from Darren Sproles’ hands. He should have jogged toward the sidelines as Barry Church scooped it up from the Jack Murphy Field turf. He should have not given chase when the Cowboys safety began running behind a stampede of blockers.
Giving up would have been expected. It certainly would have been safer.
Rivers did what wasn't.
He glanced at the easy way and sprinted 70 yards in the opposite direction.
At his own 12-yard line, he squared up his body, threw his shoulder into Church's legs, and wrangled them to the ground eight yards short of the end zone, preventing a touchdown in a 16-14 preseason loss.
Yes, the preseason. In the most insignificant of settings, where scoreboards have no meaning, Rivers provided a defining moment.
He sacrificed a body worth over $92 million to make a play out of moral instinct. He used his shoulder again after the game, only to shrug the whole thing off.
"I don’t know how you can let a guy score," Rivers said. "They’re keeping score. Maybe the consequences aren’t as big in the preseason as far as wins and losses, but it’s kind of hard to just pass a guy up there."
His teammates weren't so dismissive.
Cornerback Donald Strickland called it "excellent, especially from a star quarterback. He's definitely a guy I'd go to battle with."
Linebacker Antwan Applewhite said he "loved it."
"I told him after the play, that's why he's my hero," Applewhite said. "He went down there and made a play. He didn't just give up a touchdown. That's what we need in a team leader right there."
Dress rehearsals aren't designed for acclaim.
Those with character earn it anyway.