Philip Rivers is possibly the most underrated quarterback in the NFL, and he is my choice for the best athlete to wear No. 17.
I understand this will be a very unpopular pick with Basketball Hall of Famer John Havlicek, Pro Football Hall of Framer Red Badgro, and Former Pitcher Dizzy Dean all having worn the number seventeen.
Rivers was arguably the best quarterback in North Carolina State history, demolishing almost every NC State and ACC passing record.
He also set a new benchmark for consistency in college football quarterbacks, starting a collegiate record 51 games.
Under River’s leadership the Wolfpack went to four consecutive bowl games, winning three of them, including my favorite, a New Year’s Day victory over Norte Dame in the 2003 Gator Bowl.
He won many awards while at NC State including ACC Rookie of the Year, ACC Athlete of the Year, MVP of two Tangerine Bowls, and MVP of the 2003 Gator Bowl.
Rivers finished his career with 13,484 passing yards (4th all-time among Division 1-A quarterbacks) and 95 touchdown passes, which ties him for eighth all-time with Kliff Kingsbury and Brady Quinn.
Coming into the 2004 NFL Draft, Rivers was projected to be an early first round draft pick in a quarterback class that included Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
After many questions about his arm strength and unorthodox throwing motion, the pre-draft consensus was that Rivers could be selected with the 11th pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Then Eli Manning said that if picked by the San Diego Chargers he would not sign with them, so he was then traded to the New York Giants for Rivers and draft picks that would be used on Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding.
Rivers spent most of the 2004 and 2005 NFL seasons on the bench watching Drew Brees lead the Chargers into NFL supremacy, but after Brees dislocated his shoulder late in 2005, the Chargers choose not to re-sign him and named Rivers the starter for the 2006 season.
Coming into the 2006 season Rivers had only five NFL starts, but that didn’t stop him from becoming an elite quarterback by throwing for over 3,000 yards with 22 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions that season.
Rivers has only looked better since that season throwing a combined 55 touchdowns and 7,161 yards in the 2007 and 2008 NFL seasons.
In 2009 he threw for 4,254 yards and 28 touchdowns, making this season his second consecutive season with at least 4,000 passing yards.
Rivers’ future is looking brighter every game, not to mention he also has some of the most talented receivers, backs, and tight ends in the NFL to help aid his success.
Rivers shows excellent pocket presence and has a quick release, so for Rivers the sky is the limit.