INDIANAPOLIS — New day, new town, new team. “Nunc Coepi,” indeed.
The Latin phrase means "Now I begin."
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers shared the oft-uttered words with media during a Wednesday Zoom video conference call. He’s been saying them for years. This day, they were on his cap, as he settled into his new home after moving his family of 11 to town about one week ago.
The 17th-year pro, handed the keys to the Colts offense for 2020 after 16 seasons with the Chargers, can apply “Nunc Coepi” to his NFL relocation.
“Y’all will be tired of this hat by the end of this season probably, but it tends to be on my head most of the time unless I’m asleep,” Rivers said. “‘Nunc Coepi’ is I guess I should say the Alabama pronunciation of the Latin phrase. In its purest form, I guess it means ‘Now I begin.’ But it is a never-ending beginning. You are always beginning. Now I begin again and again and again.
“It was shared to me by a priest friend years ago. If you ask any of my children, ‘What is dad’s favorite phrase? What is our family phrase?’ They would say it immediately. I really try to apply it to my life all the way through as a dad, as a husband, in my faith, on the football field as a quarterback, as a teammate – anything you do you are always beginning again.”
Rivers, 38, would like to make his new NFL beginning a beneficial experience for a franchise that has missed the playoffs in four of the past five years.
“You always hear a lot about finish,” said the eight-time Pro Bowl passer. “Much of sports is about finish. This is kind of the opposite of that. How many times have you heard every player who has ever played say, ‘Let’s go.’ Everybody is always saying, ‘Let’s go.’ So it is just a different way of saying that, but it is ‘Nunc Coepi.’ We begin again. We begin again.
“I’ve always used it football-wise personally, you throw a touchdown, ‘Nunc Coepi.’ Now we have to begin again. Now we begin.’ You throw an interception and you certainly have to begin again. I gave you the brief version of how it applies. I’ve shared it with teammates over the years on different teams and things. If it hits you, it hits you, and if it doesn’t you can discard it.”
The phrase origin is attributed to Venerable Bruno Lanteri, a Catholic priest in Italy in the early 19th century. It’s meant as words of encouragement to those trying to do their best within limitations, weakness, and sinfulness that are believed to be a part of every person.
“If I should fall even a thousand times a day, a thousand times, with peaceful repentance, I will say immediately, ‘Nunc Coepi’ [Now I begin],” Lanteri said.
Rivers finds those words applicable to more than just football. As a man of devout faith, with his wife Tiffany and nine children, “Nunc Coepi” is known around the house.
“I’ve always thought it has been very applicable with our children, young people it is applicable – all of us, right?” Rivers said. “In the classroom, if they are struggling in math or they have a bad test grade, well, ‘Nunc Coepi.’
"I’ve seen it used also like a big stack of laundry or a bunch of dishes in the sink. If you look at the whole big pile, it looks like a lot. But if you just begin again, begin again, being again, and begin again, you look up and then the sink will be clean and the laundry will be folded. So there it is.”
(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is email@example.com.)