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Happy Anniversary! Eli Manning trade was 10 years ago today

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Today is the 10-year anniversary of the trade that brought Eli Manning to the New York Giants.

Al Bello

The trade that shaped a football generation for three NFL franchises took place 10 years ago today. That, of course, was the 2004 draft day trade that saw the New York Giants acquire first overall pick Eli Manning from the San Diego Chargers for Philip Rivers and other draft picks.

The rest, as they say, is history.

We aren't going to debate which of Manning, Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- the third quarterback in the 2004 troika of premier signal-callers -- is the best of the bunch. That debate has been going on for years, and will probably continue long after all three quarterbacks are no longer playing.

Rather, 10 years after the biggest trade in the history of the Giants franchise, you look back and wonder how this generation of football would have been different for all three franchises if the trade had never been made.

Then-Giants GM Ernie Accorsi, who staked everything on the trade, has often said that had he not known he would be able to engineer the trade, he would have selected Roesthlisberger when the Giants picked fourth overall in that draft.

Would Roethlisberger have succeeded in New York? On the field it has always seemed that Roethlisberger's skills were made for the way the Giants have played under Tom Coughlin. The off the field issues Big Ben had earlier in his career make you wonder if he could have handled the bright lights of New York?

Would the Giants have the two Super Bowl titles they have won under Manning's direction? Would they have more? Would they have less?

If Manning had stayed with the Chargers would those two Lombardi trophies that resided at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center be in San Diego?

Would Rivers, the only quarterback of the three without Super Bowl hardware, have gone to Pittsburgh and won titles with the Steelers?

It is impossible to know the answers to any of these questions. All we know for sure is that Accorsi believed Manning would bring championships to the Giants, and he was right. That, really, is all that matters.