It's been 10 long years since quarterback Eli Manning, then fresh out of Ole Miss, refused to play for the San Diego Chargers, who drafted him No. 1 overall. And despite all the time that has passed, Manning still refuses to discuss or divulge what, exactly, drove him to demand a trade that landed ultimately him with the New York Giants.
"I just can't remember, it's been 10 years. It slipped my mind," Manning said on Wednesday. "I don't know."
Ever the PR master, Manning continued to dodge, dip, dive, duck and dodge questions related to to the trade, his feelings about the Chargers organization and why he was dead-set against playing there. At the same time, Eli displayed a good sense of humor as inquiries continued to reign in, including a question about why he never put on the San Diego Chargers' hat, which is customary for all new draftees in attendance at Radio City Music Hall.
"I just, my hair was feeling good that day. I didn't want to mess it up," Manning said with a smile.
On the other side of the coin, Philip Rivers understands he'll forever be tied to Manning due to the draft day trade, but doesn't believe that one moment really comes into play as the two teams prepare to face each other in what is, essentially, a must-win game for each.
"It’s obvious it exists and that it happened and there are a lot of memories there, but I’m sure Eli will say the same thing: this is about, at least from my standpoint, the challenge at hand of facing this Giants defense, trying to get a win to keep us alive and obviously they’ve won five of six, so I know Eli is trying to keep them going. I know it’s a good side story, but I don’t think it’s at the top of either of our minds," Rivers said.
In two career games against the Chargers, Manning is 0-2 but has performed well, passing for 567 yards and four touchdowns. Perhaps more importantly, he's never thrown an interception against San Diego.
On Sunday, he'll look for that first elusive win against the team that originally drafted him.
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