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Eli is good, but he will never be good enough

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Let's address this topic and then move on to what, hopefully, will be a good final seven games.

I have come to believe, firmly, that the New York Giants never should have traded for Eli Manning.

That is not to say Eli is a bad player. He's not. He's an average to above-average NFL quarterback. With the right players around him a team can win.

After four years, though, I have seen enough with Eli to believe he will never justify being the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft.

By extension, he will never justify the king's ransom then-Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi paid to get him from the San Diego Chargers.

When Accorsi looked at Eli he had visions of Johnny Unitas, visions that Eli would be the next unforgettable NFL quarterback. So, he gave up the Giants No. 1 pick (4th overall), which was quarterback Philip Rivers, a 2005 first-round pick the Chargers used to select all-world linebacker Shawne Merriman, a 2004 third-round pick (San diego selected kicker Nate Kaeding) and a 2005 fifth-round pick.

The Giants would have been better off to simply draft Roethlisberger with that No. 4 pick, and keep the other draft choices. No guarantee the Giants would have picked them, but how good would Merriman and Kaeding (85% on field goals for his career) look in blue?

A straight up comparison of Roethlisberger and Manning tells you Big Ben is a better player. He has a Super Bowl title, a 63% career completion percentage and a QB rating of 110. Eli has a couple of playoff losses, has never completed 60% and has a career rating of 78.6.

Add to that Roethlisberger's toughness, blue-collar personality and ability to make plays on the move (like that guy the Giants faced Sunday) would suit the Giants well.

None of this is to say that Eli is a bad player. He isn't. I've been in his corner, waiting for the day he turned the corner and became a star. Now, I don't think that day is going to come.

Eli made some marvelous throws Sunday against Dallas, and has had moments in his 3½ seasons where he has looked tremendous.

That's just it, though. They are moments. Many average quarterbacks have 'moments' or streaks if they are around long enough.

If Eli had been a mid- first-round pick, or if Roethlisberger had gone first and Eli was left at No. 4 in 2004 I don't think he would be judged so harshly.

Yet, he lives in the shadow of his brother Peyton, one of the best to ever play. He lives in the shadow of Roethlisberger, who already has what Eli is trying to get.

Thanks to Accorsi, he lives in the shadow of Unitas and a trade he can never justify.

Simply, he's a good quarterback burdened by unrealistic expectations.