Philip Rivers Is Like: A Fond Look Back At #PhilipRiversExperience

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Philip Rivers has always played with the crazy-faced mania of a man on a mission, although the mission in question has not always been especially easy to figure. What is clear is that Rivers is incensed at anyone who would either help or hinder him on that progress, incensed at pretty much anyone and anything, and also that he will not chill out for even a moment until he gets there. But where Rivers is going, and what he's doing, is a secret between the artist and himself.

HAVING A BLAST, THANKS.But on Monday Night, while Rivers led a Hindenberg-ian Chargers collapse against the Denver Broncos, the whole enterprise became a bit clearer: Rivers was sending a message with every pick he lobbed in his septuagenarian-shot-putter style, and emphatically punctuating it every time he put the ball on the turf, and that message was that Philip Rivers will not rest until he is recognized as the NFL's strangest and most hilarious quarterback.

It's a noble enough goal, although surely Tony Romo and Smokey Jay Cutler will have their say before all is said and done. But for one magical, horrible night, Rivers turned quarterbacking into something like avant-garde performance art. It was discomfiting to watch, even for those of us without (yes) some fantasy football or fan's investment in Rivers. The level of sheer dread and horrified awe created by Rivers' implacable, high-volume collapse was something new and unique and terrible in both its scope and harshness: the football equivalent of the longer songs on the new Swans record, or... well, ask Twitter what it was like.

We commissioned a simile contest to describe the experience of watching and feeling Philip Rivers' second-half performance. The hashtag was #PhilipRiversExperience (and its misspelled cousin #PhillipRiversExperience) and the results speak, allusively and with a predictable and wonderful reliance on horrible images involving bad television and worse food, for themselves.

We've been over the awe-inspiring and wonder-working power of Twitter operating at full creative blast: the way that, when everything aligns, this sort of thing can work to create a facile, but fantastic and transporting, fellowship  with a happy mob of very funny strangers. It's still Twitter, of course: the greatest onomotapoeia on the internet, the sound of people making silly sounds at each other, all night every night. But whether Twitter ever topples autocracies or even turns a profit, it already makes it possible to share a joke with funny strangers, and that is certainly something. In the case of Philip Rivers' seething Monday Night Football masterwork, it was this: 



UPDATE: Because it is impossible to kill an idea this beautiful, and because watching Philip Rivers is really like a bunch of things, I've added two multimedia updates (in addition to Marc Pavlofsky's welcome video contribution in the comments) that arrived late. This hypnotic, oddly perfect and frustratingly difficult to embed video is from @tonystutz.

And this gif, from friend of the program and certified supergenius David Rappoccio, kind of speaks for itself:

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My video submission for #PhilipRiversExperience