FOXBORO, Mass. — All too often, teams will build up their opposition through the media because it's the right thing to do.
It keeps the quotes off the bulletin boards, and maybe, just maybe, they can inflate their opponents’ confidence with enough high praise.
That’s not the case when the Patriots discuss Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who has commanded immense respect from the New England locker room since the 2007 AFC Championship when Rivers hung tough on one leg.
Prior to that, Rivers was labeled around the league as arrogant with some misplaced passion that made him look like a knucklehead. Now, his reputation has been completely transformed, and he’s become one of the most respected quarterbacks in the NFL.
It all starts with the Patriots, who will face Rivers and the Chargers on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
"I always compare him to a defensive player because he's not a typical quarterback," Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said. "He's so fiery. He gets up in your face. He gets his team going, and they rally around him. So I always respect that from him. When I see a quarterback going out, having fun like he does, I just smile. I can see a lot of defensive player in him with that attitude he has. He's not shy, and he'll tell you. He'll eat you up, but he’ll also give you credit where credit is due. He's a tough football player. He's probably one of the tougher quarterbacks in this league, so it’s going to be tough. Always facing him is tough."