Revisiting the 2004 NFL Draft
In 2016 Eli Manning, has had a storied career being the signal caller for the New York Giants. During Manning’s tenure he has led two Super Bowl winning drive that have placed him in sports lore in the NFL and the city of New York. Yet the narrative for Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Phillip Rivers could have been drastically different if the 2004 NFL draft played out differently.
Entering the 2004 NFL Draft the New York Giants were coming of an abyssal 4-12 record, fired their head coach Jim Fassel and parted ways with quarterback Kerry Collins. Tom Coughlin was brought in to be the new head coach and then Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi was planning on an overhaul of the Big Blue roster.
There was also a trio of talented quarterbacks who were entering the NFL in 2004 with Manning, Rivers, and Roethlisberger and the G-men were poised to potentially acquire a franchise quarterback with the 4th pick. Yet the drama increased when Archie Manning, father of Eli Manning, boldly stated that Eli would not play for the San Diego Chargers if drafted by the organization. The Chargers holding the number one pick Manning being the number one projected player and the demand of Archie Manning was a recipe for drama and intrigue. NFL followers were trying to predict what the Chargers would do , would they concede to the demand of the Manning’s and not draft Eli or will the Chargers be defiant and draft Manning anyway.
When draft day finally came and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue walked across the stage at Madison Square Garden Tagliabue announced that the Chargers have selected Eli Manning. The New York faithful attending the draft let their feelings be known as Peyton’s little brother greeted Tagliabue and took the Chargers jersey and hat. Next off the board was offensive tackle Robert Gallery by the Oakland Raiders followed by the Arizona Cardinals drafting wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Now with the Giants on the clock it was time to see what Ernie Accorsi would do. Would he draft Roethlisberger who was rumored to be the Giants 2nd choice behind Manning or will Big Blue draft Rivers who was believed to be the a target of the Chargers. Tagliabue announced that the G-men took Phillip Rivers Yet, that was not the end of the story as a trade was made between the Giants and Chargers. The Giants received Eli Manning and sent Phillip Rivers to San Diego with 3 more draft picks which turned into most notably linebacker Shawn Merriam.
Now in the year 2016 the trio of Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Phillip Rivers have more years behind them in the NFL than ahead of them. Though each of their respective careers all three of these men have earned the title of franchise quarterback and pro bowler. Roethlisberger and Manning also have multiple Super Bowl championships on their resume too. And even though there was a certain amount of uncertainty when all three of these talented quarterbacks entered the league the only question that remains is will all three of these men be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.