San Diego fans, it’s time to break out the Eli Mannequin again because the New York Giants are headed for Qualcomm Stadium this Sunday and bringing Eli Manning with them, the quarterback who refused San Diego.
Nothing like a little pot-stirring, eh San Diego?
Most of you know the story: heading into the 2004 NFL Draft, Manning refused to play for San Diego and Chargers general manager A.J. Smith picked him anyway, prompting a draft-day trade with the New York Giants that brought quarterback Philip Rivers to town.
The last time Eli set foot in the San Diego house, he was booed loudly and spanked soundly, a 45-23 hammering with Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson swinging the San Diego sledge. The roars were plenty powerful when linebacker Donnie Edwards put Manning on his back in the second quarter.
“I was born and raised here in San Diego,” Edwards said. “It’s almost like a slap in the face for us. I think a lot of people took it that way.”
“I knew it was going to be loud,” said Manning.
That was more than eight years ago, but it’s unlikely all of San Diego has forgotten. When the Giants come to town this time, both teams are 5-7 and this match-up may make the difference in either squad’s dreams of the postseason. San Diego is mathematically eliminated from catching the 10-2, division-leading Denver Broncos, and Kansas City is only one spot behind them, a virtual lock for the first wildcard berth. That leaves the San Diego Chargers to vie with five other teams for a single wildcard spot.
The road to that playoff berth begins this Sunday with Eli and the Giants.
Despite boasting the fourth-most productive passing offense in the National Football League, San Diego has been more miss than hit this year. While neither team has been particularly effective in forcing turnovers, Eli has been prone to committing them. That may hold the key to a San Diego win.
At the end of the day, it’s nothing personal, right?
“I have nothing against San Diego as a city,” Manning said, via ESPN. “We had our rookie symposium there. But besides that, I have been to San Diego for a few other things. I know it’s a beautiful city, and great weather, and has a lot of great things to it.”
He joked with ESPN about forgetting why he refused to play for San Diego, saying it’s been 10 years.
San Diego Chargers fans and players alike will be sure to refresh his memory.