How Dean Spanos Is Helping Philip Rivers' Hall of Fame Case

It sounds strange but Dean's antics could make people re-evaluate Philip's career

NBC 7’s Derek Togerson sees a silver lining for a Chargers great in this commentary

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Spanos.

I know that did not go over too well for LaDainian Tomlinson when he gave a shout out to the Spanos family during his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech and drew the only boos of the night, and not just from the Chargers faithful, as you can probably hear. I used some of the audio we recorded in this video:


But seriously, I need to give Deano a round of applause because I realized something being at the HOF induction ceremony this weekend. It’s because of Dean Spanos that Philip Rivers will have a real shot at getting a bust next to L.T. and Antonio Gates and Dan Fouts and the rest of the Chargers legends.

Let’s face it: Rivers is not going to win a Super Bowl as a quarterback unless he ends up with another team in the twilight of his career but he WILL have Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. The thing that would keep him out would be the fact he never got to the biggest of big games. But the last few months have revealed new information that should help Philip’s case for Canton.

Now everyone knows what we in San Diego have known for years: Dean Spanos has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to running a National Football League franchise.

Last week’s fiasco stemming from the way they completely botched Antonio Gates getting to Ohio to watch his good friend be inducted made national headlines (what did not make national headlines is the fact a long-time member of the Chargers staff who wanted to see LT’s big moment had to get back from Ohio on a Southwest route that went from Cleveland to Las Vegas to Phoenix to Los Angeles, which is ridiculous).

The logo when they moved to L.A. made national headlines. So did the next logo when they moved to L.A. So did the next logo when they moved to L.A. They were booed at Staples Center right after they moved to L.A., which made national headlines.

The other NFL owners have not been reticent when it comes to their displeasure with how the move north was handled. Even going back to the way the Joey Bosa situation was dealt with shines a giant light on the ineptitude of this franchise’s ownership.

All of these things just in the last 12 months are only scratching the surface of how poorly this organization is run and none of it is even the most egregious error, which was the ownership group not having the guts to stand up to A.J. Smith when he wanted to fire Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 year and replace him with Norv Turner. Had Marty stuck around then he AND Philip would have rings already and Marty would have the bust he so richly deserves in the Hall, as well.

All that brings me back to Rivers and the HOF. I’m thinking that when his name comes up for discussion, whenever that is, people are going to see the numbers, then look at the peripherals and realize this organization made him fight nearly his entire career with one hand tied behind his back.

That 2006 team messed up in the playoffs but it was still young and on the upswing. Had Marty been there in 2007 they could have taken out the Patriots and won the whole thing. Ditto 2008. They would have still had that offensive line intact, L.T. in his prime, and Rivers learning and getting better every year. Remember 2006 was his first season as a starter and he improved rapidly after that.

But when they had the talent to win they installed the wrong guy as head coach. Then when the offensive line that featured three Pro Bowlers started to age they simply stopped trying to build it. The only season since 2011 that Rivers had a somewhat competent line in front of him was 2013 and they nearly took out the AFC champion Broncos in Denver in the Divisional Playoffs with a 55-year-old Ronnie Brown at running back.

And yet Rivers has continued to be one of the most productive (and most durable) quarterbacks in the game. He’s the reason they should have been in the playoffs a couple times in the last couple of years, only to see his head coach choke away about 8 wins.

The guys in the room, the voters, will take all this in to consideration and wonder, “What if?”

What if Rivers had been with another franchise? What if he’d had better coaches? What if he’d had an offensive line to protect him consistently? What if he’d had a defense that could protect the leads he helped his team get? How many more wins, playoff wins, would he have had?

I understand that the quarterback is supposed to elevate his team, no excuses, and the truly great ones find a way to do that. But there are limits. I heard several times over the weekend that football is the ultimate team game. That kind of flies in the face of it all coming down on the quarterback’s shoulders.

Now I am not saying Rivers is a surefire Hall of Famer. The next few years will tell us a lot about where he ranks in the grand scheme of things. All I’m saying is, the decisions the Spanos family has made and continues to make and building a pretty good case for him. I would argue he has had to overcome more obstacles than any other elite QB has ever had to overcome.

And there is this small bit of solace; if he doesn’t get in as a quarterback, I’m confident he’ll be still earn a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because while Rivers is very likely not going to win a ring as a QB … I have no doubt he’ll win at least one as an NFL head coach.

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