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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Philip Rivers's Helmet Pays Tribute To The Only Center He's Ever Known

Illustration for article titled Philip Riverss Helmet Pays Tribute To The Only Center Hes Ever Known

If you're wondering about the No. 61 on the back of Philip Rivers's helmet today—and a surprising number of you are—know that the Chargers QB didn't grab the wrong helmet; it's a tribute to Rivers's center for the last decade, who may never play another game.

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Center Nick Hardwick suffered a neck "stinger" during last week's season opener, and the nerve damage is apparently something he's dealt with before. On Wednesday, Hardwick was placed on season-ending injured reserve. "We've been having some other issues along the way, and we decided it was in everyone's best interest to shut it down for the year," Hardwick said.

Hardwick is in the final year of his contract, and considered retirement in the offseason due to health issues, so this might be the end of the road for the 33-year-old. He says he's not ready to make any decision just yet, but he sounds resigned: "Nerve damage isn't something you want to start messing with."

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It's a whole new world for Rivers, who entered the league the same time as Hardwick. "With all the time I've had with him," Rivers said, "what makes it so sad for me is that he may not ever put a helmet on again."

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