While looking at the NFL’s passing leaders today I was reminded that long ago I had an immense level of hatred for one Eli Manning. I can’t help but laugh when I think of how foolish I was. I used to spend hours reading books about voodoo dolls, witchcraft and various other ways of causing pain telepathically. But now I spend my time reminding myself that the Chargers have made Eli and his pop Archie look like idiots.
For those of you who don’t remember, leading up to the 2004 NFL Draft, Manning made it known that he did not want to be taken by the Chargers with the No. 1 overall pick. He and his daddy thought the organization was going nowhere and didn’t have the pieces in place to ever win a championship. He even went so far as to threaten to sit out the entire season and re-enter the draft the next year. The Chargers ended up taking the cry baby first, then deftly trading him to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers (the fourth pick in the draft) a third round pick in 2004, and first and fifth round picks in 2005. The Chargers then turned those picks into Shawne Merriman, Nate Kaeding and Roman Oben. The jury has been out on this deal for nearly three years and I think it’s time to render a verdict. The Giants and GM Ernie Accorsi got violated like a white boy on “OZ.”
Just looking at the quarterbacks in this deal, the Chargers come out on top. This season, with comparable weapons at their disposal, Philip Rivers has completely outplayed Eli Manning. Rivers is third in the NFL with a 100.4 passer rating, Eli is 18th at 81.0 (only 0.5 ahead of the horrendous J.P. Losman). Want more stats? I’ve got em. Rivers has thrown for 2085 yds, Manning 1972. Rivers has 13 TD/3 INT, Manning has 15 TD/11 INT. Completion percentage? Rivers 66.4%, Manning 59.4%. Rivers has clearly been far better than anyone imagined and having LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates has certainly helped his progress. But Eli has Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, not to mention Plaxico Burress. He has just as many weapons and hasn’t produced the way Rivers has. And if you think Eli might just be having a down year or going through a bad stretch, his career passer rating through 34 games is a dismal 73.5. If you look at the all-time list, his rating puts him below such NFL greats as Jeff Blake, Tim Couch, Gus Frerotte and the always intimidating Steve Bono.
We’re sure Elisha will improve his rating over time but when you consider what else the Chargers ended up with, this deal is a no brainer. Essentially they traded Manning for: Rivers, reigning defensive rookie of the year and occasional steroid-user Shawne Merriman (18.5 sacks in 22 career games), Nate Kaeding (career 85.3% on FGs) and a veteran leader on the offensive line in Roman Oben. Accorsi has to be kicking himself over this one. You think the Giants couldn’t use Merriman flying around and helping out their average defense? When I look back, I thank the Lord that Manning didn’t want to play along side the league’s best running back in a city where it’s always sunny and the women are drop-dead gorgeous. Solid thinking Eli, apparently that Ole Miss education is really paying off. Here’s the bottom line, Accorsi tried to go out, make a splash and land the big fish, but didn’t think the deal through. He gave up far too much for a guy who may never live up to expectations.
And we couldn’t be happier about it.