17 years have passed since the Eli Manning 2004 Draft moment. Taken at No. 1 in the draft by the Chargers, the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback has never said as to why he didn’t want to play for the franchise. However, now that has changed.
Speaking to Kyle Brandt on the 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt podcast, the former Giants quarterback explained his decision which took the NFL by storm those 17 years ago.
Eli Manning reveals his decison to reject the Chargers
"It was my decision having talked with my agent, coaches, [general managers] and owners," Manning said. "Going through the draft process, I was just worried about the Chargers organization at the time. I felt it was the right decision and I had a little pull. I quietly tried to say 'Hey, please don't draft me, it can be our secret,' and they didn't keep the secret part very well."
Manning was represented by Tom Condon at the time (2004) who happened to represent Marty Schottenheimer, the Chargers head coach, along with Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson as well so there was a thought that Eli would be a good choice for the franchise.
In 2004, the Chargers were seen as a graveyard for quarterbacks with Brees struggling, and after that, the Ryan Leaf situation as he was the No. 2 pick in the 1998 Draft.
Add all that and you can see why Manning opted against signing with the team. Eli did have numerous chances to explain his decision, even in 2013 when his Giants faced the Chargers, but Eli was tight-lipped.
Now retired, it appears Manning is not thinking of other teams or of making people upset, which makes sense. For many years it was assumed that his father, Archie Manning, was the driving force behind his decision. But Eli quickly set the record straight.
"It wasn't my dad. He was trying to take the heat off of me, he knew I was going to get criticized," Eli Manning told Brandt. "After that, the Chargers turned it around, they got Shawne Merriman, then Drew Brees started playing great, then Philip (Rivers) started playing great, they went to AFC Championship games, they're making playoffs and turned things around."
That 2004 Draft was perhaps the most dramatic in the NFL and Manning’s agent told the Chargers that if he was picked No. 1 by the Chargers, then Eli would opt to sit out the entire season. San Diego ended up not listening and drafted him anyway. The photo snapped of Eli with a Chargers jersey makes for awkward viewing.
Eli was then traded to the New York Giants after the photo was taken, which led the Chargers to draft Phillip Rivers. It does seem now that all the dust can finally settle on one of the most bizarre NFL drafts ever.
Also Read: How many Super Bowls has Eli Manning won?