Monday, January 21, 2008

Manning Vs. Rivers.. Giants Got it Right

Back in the 2004 NFL draft the Giants made a huge draft day trade with the San Diego Chargers. San Diego swapped the first overall selection, Eli Manning, for Phillip Rivers (the Giants selected him fourth overall), a 2004 third round pick as well as first and fifth round picks in the 2005 draft. While the Chargers would use those extra picks to land pro bowlers Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding, the Giants got Eli Manning... and nothing else.

Manning has been criticized for being too lanky, a poor decision-maker, regressing in talent, not being named Peyton and a variety of other things that only the New York media and fan base can think of. In addition, he was even called "skittish" in the pocket by his GM Jerry Reese earlier in the season.  

Fortunately, among the things he has not been criticized for are being hot headed, ill tempered, and trash talking opposing fans. Rivers talked a bunch, but was ultimately unable to back it up. Eli, on the other hand has been able to stay with in himself and the team. His low key demeanor does not take away from what his team does, nor does it make him open to further criticism. He is a throwback to the days when QBs spoke loudest with their play, rather than their mouth.

Rivers would have been a terrible fit for New York. If you think his on-field shenanigans would have gone under the radar as they have in San Diego you are kidding yourself. His tenure in New York had the potential for countless petty fights with fan base and more importantly the caustic New York media. While heavily criticized, Eli has kept the focus on the other teams, deflecting attention away from himself. Rivers is a ticking time bomb and the New York media would have had a field day with him.

Affirmation of the Giants decision to trade for Eli occurred this weekend. Manning went into Green Bay and beat Brett Favre at home in what was the 3rd coldest game ever played; advancing to his first Super Bowl. Manning has lead the Giants through the playoffs playing mistake-free football (4 TDs and 0 INTs in 3 games) making big throws when needed. 

Rivers lost, and looked bad doing so. He gave the ball away multiple times trying to force the issue and took away from what was a spirited performance by the San Diego defense. Eli might not be the main the reason the Giants are going to the Superbowl, that credit has to go to the defense. However, unlike Rivers, he isn't the main reason they are going home.

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