New York Giants fans know the story of the 2004 NFL Draft. The Giants went 4-12 in 2003 and possessed the number four selection as a result of the season. With Kerry Collins leaving, then-General Manager Ernie Accorsi wanted to draft a quarterback to take over the franchise.
The San Diego Chargers had the first pick and many felt that they would select Eli Manning out of Ole Miss, but the younger brother of Peyton Manning wasn't interested in going to San Diego.
Accorsi on scouting Manning:
"I scouted him back in 2002 and he nearly beat Auburn by himself. The next year, he took his team to the Cotton Bowl and won. My gut feeling was that if we could trade up for him, we needed to do it," he said.
Accorsi on dealing with Chargers GM A.J. Smith:
"I didn't know him at the time, and I said to him, if you're interested, I'm willing to trade for that pick. If not, I had a fall-back pick and we were going to take Ben Roethlisberger. Either way, we were getting a franchise quarterback," he said.
Accorsi on nearly trading the fourth pick to seventh with the Browns:
"I nearly pulled the trigger to move down to seven, but I heard a rumor that Cleveland was trying to move up to our spot and get Manning. And it hit me, if I enabled Cleveland to get him, then I couldn't live with myself, so I decided not to make the trade and stick to our pick," he said.
Accorsi on making the deal with the Chargers:
"Halfway through our pick right around the seven-minute mark, A.J. calls me and says, how about next year's number one, and I said yes. They had told me they wanted Rivers. So once I had made the pick, then I was allowed to make the trade; Rivers for Manning. If Eli didn't want to come to New York, then it wouldn't have worked, but he was interested and were able to make it work," he said.
Accorsi on trading Philip Rivers, the third round pick in 2004 and the first and fifth round picks in 2005 for Eli Manning:
"We got hammered for giving too much, but there is no price that is too high if you're right, but you better be right. Because there is no price too high for greatness. I mean, what would you given for Elway?" he said.
Reflecting back nine years later, the Giants and Accorsi got it right with Manning, as he had lead them to two Super Bowl victories and has won two Super Bowl MVP Awards.
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