The quarterback the New York Giants drafted and traded to get Eli Manning in 2004 has now joined Manning in retiring from the NFL. Philip Rivers made that official Tuesday night, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune that “it’s just time.”
To Giants fans, Rivers will always be remembered as the chess piece then-Giants GM Ernie Accorsi drafted specifically for the purpose of making the deal for Manning.
The Chargers drafted Manning despite his not wanting to play there. The Giants wanted Manning because Accorsi had been smitten since the first time he saw Manning play at Ole Miss.
Accorsi wanted Manning. If he couldn’t make that happen, Ben Roethlisberger was the guy he wanted.
“Everybody thought my second choice was Rivers, but that wasn’t the case — Roethlisberger was,” Accorsi told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2016. “That was almost a jump ball with us — Roethlisberger and Eli. We scouted Roethlisberger very, very thoroughly. Both Eli and Ben’s pro days were flawless. I almost froze to death sitting outside watching him at Mobile [at the Senior Bowl]. He threw four touchdowns in the first quarter or the first 20 minutes. He was on fire. I loved him. We all did.
“I would have been happy with Rivers, but I wanted Ben. I took a risk. If he would have called back and said I’m backing out of this trade, there’s no Ben for me.”
The Chargers preferred Rivers to Roethlisberger, so Accorsi selected Rivers to facilitate the deal with San Diego for Manning.
There will always be debate among fan bases as to how to rank Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger. The Giants got two championships and 16 seasons out of their end of the deal, and that’s really all that matters.