Why Philip Rivers Is Football's Answer to LeBron James

Jake LittleContributor IIINovember 8, 2011

Why Philip Rivers Is Football's Answer to LeBron James

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    Philip Rivers and LeBron James may play two different sports, but the San Diego Chargers quarterback is the NFL's version of the Miami Heat superstar.

    The Chargers and Heat are both organizations with a lot of talent in their respective sports. Even more similar is the franchise player and poster boys that both organizations have.

    Let's see how.

Entering the Pros: LeBron James

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    Upon entering the NBA, LeBron James was one of the most highly rated players in the 2003 NBA draft. 

    The Cleveland Cavaliers selected James with the No. 1 overall pick. He was entering the draft straight out of high school as the one-and-done rule had not yet been implemented.

    James enjoyed a high-profile entrance to a league that was begging for a superstar to compete with Kobe Bryant. 

    Over the course of the next few years, the media would morph James into that superstar. 

    LeBron played for a small-market franchise that needed a leader. James was a player that filled a plethora of holes in the Cavaliers squad.

    Essentially, James was a high-rated talent brought into a small-market team with high expectations. 

Entering the Pros: Philip Rivers

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    Philip Rivers was one of three highly rated quarterbacks in the 2004 NFL draft. The other two were Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, who was the first overall pick in the draft. 

    In that draft the San Diego Chargers selected Manning with the first overall pick, but agreed to trade Manning to the New York Giants for Rivers, who was selected fourth overall in the same draft. 

    Rivers was sent to a team that had Drew Brees as its starting quarterback. This kept Rivers out of a starting position until 2006, when Brees decided not re-sign with the Chargers.

    Rivers was then thrust into the starting position. Of note, he had a reputation for accurate throwing, as he had a 72 percent completion rate in his senior year at North Carolina State.

    Much like LeBron James, Rivers was an admired young talent that was brought in to a small-market team with high expectations.  

Regular-Season Performances: LeBron James

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    Throughout the course of the most recent NBA regular seasons, LeBron James has been as good as any basketball player in the world. 

    He won back-to-back MVP titles in 2009 and 2010. On top of those, he has made seven consecutive All-Star appearances. 

    In 2008 he was the NBA scoring champion, averaging 30 points per contest. 

    James' regular-season performances have led some to believe that he is the most talented basketball player in the world. His ability to pass, shoot, rebound and defend makes him one of the most complete basketball players in the game today. 

    LeBron James is a regular-season beast any team would love to have at its disposal. 

Regular-Season Performances: Philip Rivers

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    Philip Rivers currently ranks fifth in passing yards on the season. The former North Carolina State quarterback has thrown 2,469 yards in the San Diego Chargers' eight games this season. 

    Last year, Rivers led the NFL is passing yardage, with 4,710 yards, and threw the fifth-most touchdown passes in the league with 30. 

    Rivers also enjoyed a successful season in 2009. The Chargers quarterback threw 28 touchdown passes, the sixth best in league. He also threw for the eighth-most yards in the league with 4,254.

    Rivers has been an extremely valuable quarterback to his team during the regular season. His performances have won the San Diego Chargers games that other quarterbacks would have lost.

    Over the last few regular seasons, Philip Rivers has been a top-five NFL quarterback.  

Postseason Performances: LeBron James

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    LeBron James' most criticized attribute is, without question, his inability to deliver a solid performance when it matters. 

    Often criticized of giving up in the postseason, LeBron has yet to win an NBA championship. For many talented players a failure to do so would not be the end of the world. 

    For LeBron James, his lack of an NBA championship is catastrophic to his reputation. 

    This is a player who has been compared to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Those players have won an astounding 11 NBA championships between them. What's more is the fact that Jordan and Bryant are two players that seem to thrive in the postseason environment. 

    LeBron is going to have to deliver an NBA trophy at some point in his career if he wants his post-retirement reputation to remain as glorified as his current reputation is. 

Postseason Performances: Philip Rivers

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    The San Diego Chargers have finished first in their division four of Philip Rivers' five years as a starting quarterback. 

    However, the deepest they've ever gotten into a postseason was the AFC Conference Championship in 2007. Rivers and the Chargers lost to the New England Patriots 21-12 in that game. 

    Rivers has a postseason record of 3-4. His performances in the postseason are not indicative of the talent that he is. 

    Take the Chargers most recent playoff game, for instance: the 2010 AFC divisional playoff game against the New York Jets. The Jets beat the Chargers 17-14. The Jets had scored all 17 of their points in the second half, while San Diego was only able to muster up a touchdown in that same period. 

    Rivers finished the game with 298 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. 

    Philip Rivers is a great talent and a great regular-season NFL quarterback. (Yes, he's having a bad year, but he's still a good quarterback.) If Rivers wants to solidify himself as an elite quarterback, he's going to need to deliver at in the postseason at some point. 

    Perhaps he and LeBron James can work on their postseason play together.