Philip Rivers Energizes New Colts Teammates

Phillip B. Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS — Philip Rivers might be an old man by NFL standards, but he doesn’t act his age.

The 38-year-old quarterback is known for his expressive nature, which includes clean trash-talking on the field. Before he signed with the Indianapolis Colts for $25 million to play in 2020, Rivers also had the reputation of being a great teammate who fostered a locker-room bond.

He’s already doing that with the Colts, who started training camp this week.

Tenth-year left offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo started smiling when talking about Rivers during a Monday Zoom video conference call.

“I’ve had very minimal interactions with him so far, but I feel like every time I talked to him he is like a sixth-grade kid ready to play his first day of football,” Castonzo said. “That guy loves football more than I think anybody I’ve ever been around. It is going to be a fun season playing with him.

“He loves the o-line. He had a group chat going with us o-linemen in the offseason. It was funny. He likes to do the voice messages, so we would have like a two-minute voice message of him talking about how hyped he is for the season. … I’m excited to see what he brings.”

Castonzo was asked about how Rivers compares to other Colts quarterbacks he has been around, including Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.

“Andrew is the closest I’ve been with that is like a little kid out there, and as old as Philip is, he’s youthful in terms of his energy,” Castonzo said. “I haven’t been on the field with him yet, but just being around him in the locker room and hearing him talk and the messages he gives, he’s got that kiddish excitement. I think that is kind of the unique thing that he brings – that he is playing like he is back in middle school playing football.”

So Rivers is a 38-year-old sixth-grader?

“Yeah, basically,” Castonzo said with a laugh.

Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard was 12 years old when he first met Rivers in 1997. That’s when Leonard’s brother, linebacker Anthony Waters, was drafted in the third round by the San Diego Chargers, the organization for whom Rivers played 16 seasons and holds numerous franchise passing records.

“I was there in San Diego growing up watching him play, meeting him, and now he’s on my team,” Leonard said in a Monday Zoom video call. “We talk about that all the time. His energy that he brings, like last night we were on a Zoom meeting and he’s bringing so much juice saying how he’s so ready to get back. Thinking about me, I bring juice and then seeing him this morning he’s like, ‘I can’t wait to get out on the field.’”

Leonard’s brother played two seasons with the Chargers before two more with the New Orleans Saints. His final NFL game earned a Super Bowl XLIV ring, when the Saints defeated the Colts.

Now Leonard is hoping he can team up with Rivers to win a ring, something neither has done.

When asked if Rivers is the same guy he remembers from 13 years ago, Leonard didn’t hesitate.

“Yes, the country guy, very loud, competitive, trash-talker,” Leonard said. “Yeah, nothing has changed except his age.”

(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 phillipbwilson24@yahoo.com.)

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