Revisiting the Giant trade of 2004
In 2004, the San Diego Chargers selected Eli Manning No. 1 overall; the Giants selected Philip Rivers No. 4, and the teams traded one for the other (the Chargers haul included Rivers, Merriman, and Nate Kaeding). So who got the better end of the deal?
The obvious answer is the Giants, led by Eli Manning, the Superbowl winners of 2007 (knocking off the undefeated Patriots led by the fabulous Tom Brady and the guru himself, Bill Belichik). But, a closer look at Eli and Philip is necessary when passing judgment on this infamous trade.
Let’s focus on the playoffs, which is the only thing that truly matters when measuring success for quarterbacks (while McNabb and Romo are both pro bowl quarterbacks, and McNabb is likely to be a Hall of Famer when it is all said and done, I have a feeling that Eagles and Cowboys fans would prefer a Superbowl championship instead of pro bowl appearances), so here we go.
Let’s look at Rivers in the playoffs: 8 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a completion percentage of 58.5%. Now for Eli: 8 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a completion percentage of 58.5%. Interesting. Let’s look a bit further. Rivers is 3-4 in the playoffs, Eli is 4-3 in the playoffs. Wow, pretty even until we get blinded by Eli’s championship ring, right?
Both Manning and Rivers are in the prime of their careers (Rivers coming off another pro bowl season and Eli having enjoyed the finest statistical season of his career). Two years ago, we would have objectively declared the Chargers winners of the 2004 trade, calling Rivers and Manning about even and than factoring in Merriman and pro bowl kicker Nate Kaeding, but now, I am not so sure I give the nod to the Bolts. Merriman is a shadow of the player that terrorized the league during his first two seasons and has made more headlines for his involvement with Tila Tequila (I can assure you that this will be the only time in the history of this blog that you will see the name Tila Tequila) than his play on the football field; Kaeding has twice kept the Chargers from advancing in the playoffs due to untimely missed kicks (note the to the Bolts and to the Cowboys, having a kicker who can withstand the mental challenges of playoff football is very important).
So, for me, the 2007 Superbowl title makes the Giants clear winners of the 2004 Rivers/Manning trade. Take nothing away from Rivers, he is a stud QB in his prime, but so is Eli, and Eli’s ring finger is just a tad bit heavier. Give me Manning.