The careers of Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger will forever be intertwined and compared. Former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi has often said that had he not believed he could make the 2004 draft day trade for Manning he would have been happy to select Roethlisberger.
How things would have turned out with Manning in San Diego, Roethlisberger in New York and Philip Rivers wherever he would have landed is anybody’s guess. The Giants and Steelers have each gotten two Super Bowls and 15 years out of the guys they chose to build their franchises around. So, both sides made out just fine.
Why am I bringing up the Manning-Roethlisberger subject again, especially on an early May day in the offseason?
Because events of the past few days have me thinking — again — about the idea that Giants fans have been fortunate since that fateful day in 2004 to have Manning to root for rather than Roethlisberger.
Simply look at how each veteran quarterback reacted in recent days to their respective teams selecting mid-round quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft who could end up one day being the heirs to their thrones.
Roethlisberger threw a hissy fit.
That despite the reality that not that long ago he reminded the Steelers that he won’t be there forever by raising the specter of retirement.
Roethlisberger also said this:
“I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now,” Roethlisberger said on 97.3 FM in Pittsburgh, revealing he told the team pre-draft he plans to play 3-5 more years.
”Once they drafted a quarterback in the third, I wasn’t sure if they believed me or not. But I’m committed to it.”
Manning? With an eye toward the day he won’t be their guy anymore, the Giants have drafted mid-round quarterbacks two seasons in a row. When they selected Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round, Manning didn’t bat an eye.
This is what he said during a charity gala on Monday evening:
“I didn’t know how it was going to play out,” he said. “I knew it was a possibility. But it wasn’t going to affect my outlook or what my job is going forward. I’ve got a job to play. At this point, it’s year to year. You have to prove that you deserve to be here, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Manning admitted that, not knowing what the Giants planned to do, he did watch the first round of the draft.
“My wife was very curious as to what was going to go on, and obviously so was I. Excited with the draft and Saquon ... to get another playmaker to help us out.”
Manning has watched the Giants waste draft picks on several quarterbacks over the years — Andre Woodson, Rhett Bomar, Ryan Nassib (who also cost them a draft pick). At best, those players were going to be his backup. Now, he has watched two separate regimes build contingency plans for a Manning-less future.
And he hasn’t complained.
For me, that is yet another reason why Giants fans should be appreciative that it has been Manning — and not Roethlisberger — they have gotten to watch lead their team for all these years.