SAN DIEGO (AP) - So, what about Philip Rivers?
Eli Manning has one Super Bowl ring and on Wednesday became the NFL's highest-paid player. Ben Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl victories in four seasons and got his big payday last year.
Rivers is still waiting for both. He's the only one of the Big Three quarterbacks from the draft class of 2004 who doesn't have a Super Bowl ring.
"I'll always be linked with those guys and you like to follow their careers and what they're doing, but it's not something I spend a lot of time worrying about," Rivers said.
The contract extension likely will come. As for a Super Bowl ring, well, the Chargers simply need to get to the title game first. They've certainly had their chances in recent seasons and have been picked by some of the so-called experts to make it this year.
If any team knows that getting to the Super Bowl isn't a sure thing, it's San Diego.
The Chargers have been guilty of believing preseason prognosticators, talking big and then falling short.
Rivers said he doesn't see that happening this year.
"It's a long way from December and January, and we've got to understand that," he said at training camp. "The feel is different. You don't feel the hype and all the hoopla right now. I mean, we've got the energy and everybody's excited, but it's a little more focused group and I think that's going to be key."
The best thing the Chargers can do is learn from the past three seasons, Rivers said. They seemed headed for the Super Bowl after a 14-2 regular season in 2006 before tanking against New England in their playoff opener.
They beat Indianapolis on the road the following season to reach the AFC championship game. They lost to the Patriots, who then lost to Manning's New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Rivers played that AFC title game with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He had surgery and was ready to go the first day of training camp last summer. Despite the Chargers' overall struggles last season, Rivers threw 34 touchdown passes to break Dan Fouts' club record, and with 4,009 passing yards joined Fouts as the only QBs in team history to throw for more than 4,000 in a season.
The Chargers were the popular Super Bowl pick last summer before a rollercoaster season saw them make it into the playoffs as AFC West champions at 8-8 only because of Denver's historic collapse. Once there they beat Indianapolis in overtime before losing on the road to Roethlisberger and the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers.
"Three years ago, we were a team where, 'How many playoff games have you been in? None, none, none,' and you go down the line," Rivers said. "And now we're a team that says, 'Well, we've been in about every situation you can be in.' From a situational and circumstance and adversity standpoint, I don't think there's anything that can get thrown at us that we can't handle."
Rivers doesn't think the Chargers were overconfident last year but admits they "basked in the hype a little bit. We kind of ran with the hype a little bit. The whole, 'They took it lightly approach,' that's nonexistent."
The QB said the team has to understand the importance of a fast start and having to "bring it every week."
The Chargers started 1-3 in 2007, Norv Turner's first season as coach. They were 0-2 last year after losing the home opener to Carolina and losing at Denver on referee Ed Hochuli's blown call. At 4-8 they looked to be finished before winning their final four and watching Denver lose its last three.
Rivers said there was a time when the Chargers thought they were going to be tough to beat rather than just keeping quiet and going out and playing.
"Because of what we've been through, how we recovered, how we dealt with all that, we understand that," Rivers said. "We took all that and molded the personality and attitude, and I like where it is right now."
Whether it translates to the second trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history remains to be seen.
General manager A.J. Smith declined three interview requests this week regarding Rivers.
In 2004, with the Chargers coming off an NFL-worst 4-12 finish, Manning's family asked San Diego not to draft him with the No. 1 pick overall. Smith did anyway, then sent him to the Giants for Rivers and a handful of picks.
"I think at the time I said there were three marquee quarterbacks and I wouldn't be surprised if great things would happen for them, and I still feel that way," Smith said in late February when asked if he was surprised Rivers hasn't won a Super Bowl while Manning and Roethlisberger have.
"Now, in saying that, you've got one quarterback that has two Super Bowl rings, one that has one ... and our guy, he doesn't have any. ... And I am rooting for Philip Rivers again this year. And hopefully we can build a team all the way around, hopefully, maybe one day he will lead us. I think he's capable."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.