The 2004 NFL draft was pretty epic. The talent that came out of that class can be seen all across the league. The biggest ‘national’ talk out of that draft is the trade that landed Eli Manning from the Chargers to the Giants. According to former Giant GM, Ernie Accorsi, the mere consideration of that trade might not of happened because of MAC QB star Ben Roethlisberger.
The way Accorsi remembers it, according to an article on ESPN.com, the Giants almost did not make a trade for Manning and were very willing to select Ben Roethlisberger as their new rookie QB. We all can remember the drama leading up to the draft: Eli’s daddy, Archie Manning, publicly said that he did NOT want his son landing in San Diego. What he didn’t publicly say is because he felt his son was too good to land in a market like San Diego and deserved to be in a market like New York. The day of the draft, the Chargers took Manning anyways. The Giants stepped up with the fourth pick and sat for a long time. The rumor swirling around at that point was that the Chargers were willing to trade Manning. The Browns were offering at that time to trade spots with the Giants and Accorsi thought,
We’re going to get Roethlisberger at seven. Our fallback position was never a bad one, because we really liked him. I had seen him in the [Senior] Bowl game down in Mobile, where I think he threw four touchdown passes in the first eight minutes of the game. But we stopped just short of sending anything to the league. At that point, the chances of making a trade for Eli seemed diminished. I thought, ‘If I enable [the Browns to move up and trade] for Eli, I’m not going to be able to live with myself.’ At the last second, I thought ‘I’m not moving.’
So the Giants sat and eventually the Chargers called and offered a trade – Rivers and a bunch of picks for Manning. Accorsi bit, and the rest is history.
The 2004 QB draft class has been said (in just whispers right now) to be the best QB class ever. Roethlisberger, Manning, Schaub, Rivers – all impressive in stats, even more impressive in being proven winners. Schaub has been the late bloomer out of the group, and quite frankly I think most are still waiting for Rivers to mature into a grown up quarterback.
The debate this weekend (or lack thereof rather) according to NPC’s own Andrew Predler will be who is the better QB – Big Ben or Eli? They both have won two Super Bowls and have incredible stats, yet they both have very different approaches to the positions. Can any of us even imagine how the last 8 seasons would have ended up if Big Ben went to the Giants? Would Ben have two Super Bowl wins still? Would he have more? Would Manning have been able to pull the Browns up from the depths of mediocrity? Who would have the Steelers picked at #11? Would the Steelers have won any Super Bowls in the last 8 seasons?
I think it’s pretty safe to say Steeler Nation is grateful that Eli went to New York, and the Steelers took the spoils of selecting Roethlisberger. Certainly the Steelers would not be the organization they are today if they did not select Roethlisberger back in 2004. So I guess a ‘thank you’ is in order for the Giants and Accorsi. How’s about Big Ben serves them up a loss as a way of saying thanks?