When Philip Rivers showed up in San Diego, it was Kris Dielman, the Chargers’ standout left guard, that first went up to Rivers and told him to lead the team. It became the routine pre-game message between the two of them over the last few years, and it’s pretty interesting given that Dielman was a leader in helping Rivers lead the team down the field.
Unfortunately, it was Dielman that gave one of the more memorable sights or videos during the past NFL season for the wrong reason. He suffered a concussion against the New York Jets on Oct. 23, a helmet-to-helmet collision that left him visible woozy on the field. The injury forced Dielman, once an undrafted free agent, to retire this week after an impressive nine-year career.
Philip Rivers joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to discuss Dielman’s retirement press conference, the impact that Dielman had on his career, Dielman’s traditional pre-game message to him to lead the team, when that started, working out with Tim Tebow recently and what it’s like to hang out with a Denver quarterback.
On Kris Dielman’s retirement and the big press conference:
“Being able to just tell Kris in private would have been enough, but I think it was good that it got to be [public], not for me but for Kris. He’s never been big in the media and he’s been just what an offensive lineman is — he just wanted to do the grunt work, do all the dirty work and never really get a pat on the back. … It was good for him because, one, obviously there’s a lot of players there. He already knew what we thought of him, but it was good for the media to see. It was just good. He needed to go out that way, to see how appreciated he was and see the coverage it deserves. I don’t know if there’s been a better guard in football the last four years running.”
On how Dielman’s play impacted Rivers’ career:
“He did all he possibly could to not let his man win. Every snap I’ve taken, just about, until this year — maybe one game here or there — he’s been the left guard. I’ll certainly miss him being out there, but it was fun. He played three times longer than the average NFL career and I think he stated himself he wasn’t supposed to last a month or a week in this league. … He has a lot to be proud of. He loved being a teammate.”
Tell us more about the story where Dielman grabbed you and just said, “Lead us:”
“Standing down there on that 30-yard line before we take that first snap. He was always usually the last one I’d get to, not for any reason, sometimes maybe not. Him saying that, it was kind of like, ‘Hey, whatever, we’re with you. Wherever this team takes us, you lead us.’ It was something I’ve never really shared before. … It was kind of a he and I thing. I was just trying to let people into that it’s so easy to get caught up into you just watch a three-hour football game and you come to the game and these guys are just out here playing a game and they go home. The relationships and the little things that are involved are what make it special.”
When did that start?:
“It goes back. I can’t say that it’s been every single time since I started playing in ’06, but it goes back about as far as I can remember. I don’t know how it started or when, but it’s not a cliche, just let me think of something to say. He looks you dead in the eye and says, ‘You lead us.’ … There’s no guy in any game that plays any harder than he played.”
You worked out with Tim Tebow recently in Los Angeles. What’s that like?:
“It was good. It was really the first time I’ve been around him other than brief conversations before and after games. I’ve never really just been around him in that environment with five or six guys throwing the ball around. We didn’t really talk Chargers-Broncos or anything like that. Obviously they were able to win the division and get in the playoffs. We didn’t really get into all that. … He’s a good guy and I think he didn’t bring on all the media stuff that he gets. Obviously he can’t help some of it. When you get around him you see he’s just a guy that likes to play football.”
Given your past with Jay Cutler, it seems crazy to think you’d be working out with a Broncos quarterback:
“I’m telling you, I don’t think it’s something I’ll make a big habit of, and not because of Tim. But it was a little weird thinking, ‘Here’s our rival that just took the division from us and we’re here throwing the ball together.’ But it’s fine, it was good.”