When the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots Sunday night to win their second Super Bowl in five years, a small truth that most were already whispering was screamed loudly: The Giants' trade for Eli Manning during the 2004 draft ranks as the most influential trade in the NFL since the Colts sent John Elway to the Denver Broncos in 1983.
Now that Manning has his second Super Bowl ring, let's take a look back at that ever-important deal back in '04.
New York Giants Get: Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2004 draft.
San Diego Chargers Get: North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2004 draft. In addition, San Diego received the Giants' third-round pick in 2004 (used on kicker Nate Kaeding, No. 65 overall) and Giants' first- and fifth-round picks in 2005 (first-rounder used on Shawne Merriman, No. 12 overall; fifth-rounder traded to Tampa Bay, who traded pick to St. Louis Rams).
Why: Manning was the clear-cut No. 1 player in the '04 draft, but his father, Archie Manning, made it publicly known that Eli had no intentions to play in San Diego, where the Chargers held the No. 1 pick. Instead of taking Manning and forcing his hand, the Chargers drafted him and later shipped him to New York for Rivers and a ransom of picks.
Regular Season Statistics
Manning hasn't always been the NFL's best regular season quarterback and he's led the league in interceptions on two different occasions.
But during the Giants' two Super Bowl seasons, Manning stole the NFL show. Over those two years—2007-08 and 2011-12—Manning completed 14 come-from-behind wins and was the hottest quarterback in each postseason.
The simple fact that he's led two teams with a combined 19 regular-season wins to Super Bowl triumphs is another testament to how Manning has taken control over each stunning season.
Now, eight seasons into his NFL career, Eli has passed his brother Peyton in rings while taking down Tom Brady, who many consider among the top quarterbacks of all time, in their two Super Bowl matchups.
Philip Rivers/Shawne Merriman/Nate Kaeding
Regular Season Statistics
Up until the 2011 season, Rivers was a superior quarterback to Manning in everything from passing stats to winning percentage. The only thing that separated the two was Manning's win in Super Bowl XLII.
Now, after a disappointing season from Rivers in both the stat line and the standings, the gap between the two quarterbacks has widened considerably. Not only is Manning putting up the stats, but his two Super Bowls put him in an elite class. Rivers has a long way to go to catch up.
Merriman was a Pro Bowl pass-rusher until performance-enhancing drugs and injuries derailed his career. He is now in Buffalo trying to put the pieces back together.
Kaeding is a two-time Pro Bowler, but he tore his ACL during the first week of the 2011 season.