Colts' Jim Irsay Says Philip Rivers Is a 'Young 38'; Compares QB to Brees, Brady

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 18: Jim Irsay the owner of the Indaianpolis Colts speaks to the fans at Reggie Wayne's induction to the Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 18, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Much like beauty, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay believes age is in the eye of the beholder.

The Colts signed Philip Rivers to a one-year, $25 million contract this offseason. In an appearance on the Colts Official Podcast, Irsay made it clear Indianapolis wasn't dissuaded by the fact that Rivers turned 38 in December.

"When we played him last year, Frank Reich told him, he said, 'My God Philip, you missed one throw the whole game.' … I tell ya, I believe Philip is a young 38. We see guys like Drew Brees now, and Tom Brady, playing and doing great things after 40. It won't even be until 2021 (in) December when Philip gets 40. So I think he is a guy with elite leadership, a great release, and what makes it so good is I feel we have the best offensive line in football, and that's the thing that takes a long time to build."

Rivers threw for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes in 2019. 

And while putting the eight-time Pro Bowler in the same class as Brady or Brees is a bit of a stretch, Irsay is correct when he highlights the longevity older quarterbacks are enjoying across the NFL.

The league's various rule changes in recent years have protected passers from big hits that could shorten their careers and made it easier than ever to torch opposing secondaries.

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The Ringer's Kevin Clark wrote older quarterbacks might be at an advantage now because they had more time to practice and talk to their coaches earlier in their careers:

"There's a theory, according to the people I spoke with, that Brady, Brees, Eli Manning, Rivers, [Aaron] Rodgers, and [Ben] Roethlisberger benefited from coming into the league during a time of unlimited football education and practice time. These players have aged gracefully because halfway through their tenure, the grueling, physical practices they were accustomed to were virtually banned. Before the 2011 CBA, there were basically no limits on practice time, but now teams can have only 14 padded practices during the regular season. [Matt] Hasselbeck called the practice restrictions an 'absolute game-changer' for his health."

Former Raiders star Rich Gannon told Clark he thought younger quarterbacks are almost at a disadvantage because they're unable to process a play call and read the defense with the speed of older quarterbacks.

The Colts are looking to Rivers to help get them over the top after making it clear they weren't fully committed to Jacoby Brissett as the long-term solution.

Beyond just signing Rivers to a big one-year contract, Indianapolis doubled down by trading its No. 13 overall selection to the San Francisco 49ers for DeForest Buckner. The Colts could've used that pick to select a quarterback, but relying on a veteran signal-caller makes more sense for a franchise with title ambitions.

Of course, Irsay's comments could come back to haunt him should Rivers take a big step backward in 2020 and fail to age gracefully like Brady and Brees.

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