JOHN L. PITTS: Right choice for Eli Manning: Archie knew what he was doing

By John L. Pitts | NEMS Daily Journal

There will be millions of words written about the Super Bowl this week, and a substantial percentage of those will focus on Giants quarterback Eli Manning, one of Oxford’s favorite sons.
Before the deluge, let’s focus on one crucial point today: Archie Manning was right.
Think back to the scene on Draft Day 2004, when the San Diego Chargers had the No. 1 pick after a 4-12 season and selected Manning out of Ole Miss.
Both Eli and Archie Manning dd not see a future for the young quarterback in San Diego and went so far as to say that out loud. The national sports press, especially the 24-hour sports talkers and non-New York columnists, gave the Mannings a fierce public beating for not wanting to go along and get along.
I have a feeling that Archie’s experience with the then-woeful Saints underscored for him the importance of getting Eli with the best possible NFL organization from the start.
The best fit
The New York Giants already had two Super Bowl trophies in their case, while the Chargers had none. And the Giants’ way of doing business – putting an emphasis on defense, the running game and solid quarterback play – may have seemed like a much better fit.
So folks at the draft ceremony – and those in the house, including our Parrish Alford – had the weird experience of seeing Eli Manning reluctantly hold up a San Diego Chargers No. 1 jersey, only to be seen happily holding up a New York Giants jersey a little later with Archie at his side.
Confronted with a quarterback who didn’t want to play for them, the Chargers swung a deal that sent young Manning to New York and earned them QB Philip Rivers and a couple of additional draft picks.
History since that draft has borne out that the Mannings were seeing clearly.
Throw out his rookie season, when Eli wasn’t the full-time starter, and the Giants have been to playoffs five times in seven seasons, winning two NFC Championships and, pending Sunday’s results, one Super Bowl – and he was the MVP of that.
The Chargers have won a few more regular-season games over that span but have reached only one AFC title game, losing to the New England Patriots. Along the way, the Chargers have picked up a deserved reputation as underachievers.
And the veteran quarterback the Chargers shipped out in favor of Rivers, Drew Brees, has gone on to glory in, of all places, New Orleans.
It’s almost like Archie had a plan.
John L. Pitts (john.pitts@journalinc.com) is sports editor of the Daily Journal.