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Eli Manning 'can't remember' why he rejected Chargers

  • By Associated Press
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning doesn't feel comfortable talking about why he and his family didn't want him to play in San Diego in 2004. The New York Giants quarterback gets a sheepish look and says he really doesn't remember why he spurned a city known for its mild climates and beaches.

The issue was resurrected Wednesday because the Giants are getting ready to play Rivers and the Chargers in San Diego on Sunday.

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The Mannings told the Chargers that Eli didn't want to play in southern California and it forced their hand on draft day in 2004. The Chargers took Manning with the No. 1 overall pick and traded him to the Giants for Philip Rivers -- the No. 4 selection -- and three other picks, including the Giants' No. 1 in 2005.

The deal took 45 minutes to broker and Manning spent the time doing interviews at the theatre at Madison Square Garden, where the draft was held.

"It wasn't an ideal situation," Manning recalled. "We were prepared to go through with it and wait it out."

In the end, then-Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi pulled off the deal that got New York its quarterback of the future. Manning then did a second round of interviews.

"I know I had more smiles the second time around," Manning said Wednesday.

Rivers had an interesting take on the trade a decade later. Speaking on a conference call, he said he doubted the Giants would have drafted him unless the deal with the Chargers was ironed out, saying New York didn't have much interest in him leading up to the draft.

"When the Giants drafted me, I thought something must be going on with San Diego," Rivers recalled. "So I don't think about it as much (what if) because I really don't think it was as much of a possibility as it seemed."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin recalled Accorsi's conviction.

"I remember Ernie Accorsi making that deal, of being 100 percent in belief that this was the right thing to do for our franchise," Coughlin said, later adding he believes the deal helped both teams.

This will be only the third time Manning has faced the Chargers in his career. He has never beaten them, losing 45-23 in 2005 when Drew Brees was the Chargers' starter. Rivers took over the following year and led them to a 21-20 win over the Giants in 2009, guiding a late winning drive.

Manning insists he has nothing against the city.

"We had our rookie symposium there, but besides that, I have been to San Diego for a few other things," Manning said. "I know it's a beautiful city and great weather and has a lot of great things to it."

When asked what was wrong a decade ago, he hesitated. "I just can't remember it," he said. "It's been 10 years. It slipped my mind."

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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