The Chargers had the number one pick going into the 2004 draft. The overall consensus was that Eli Manning would be the overall first pick coming out of Ole Miss. In fact, some people even thought he would be better than Peyton.
For the previous 9 years, let’s just say, the Chargers were not exactly the most successful team in the NFL. In 2000, they won 1 game. In 2001 they won 5 games. In 2003 they won 4 games. They were not very good.
When it was apparent the Chargers were going to draft Eli, he publicly came out and said that he would not play for the Chargers with his brother, Peyton, and dad, Archie publicly supporting him. This was basically slapping the Charger organization in the face.
So what do the Chargers do? They draft Eli number 1. With the 4th pick the New York Giants drafted Philip Rivers. (The QB , the Chargers actually wanted in the first place). So AJ Smith, the Charger GM, picks up the phone and calls the Giants if they were interested in Eli. The price tag? Philip Rivers, the Giants third round pick of that year’s draft and the Giants first round draft choice in 2005. The Giants went for the deal.
The Chargers drafted a kicker, Nate Kaeding out of Iowa, with the third pick. Kaeding has become one of the premier kickers in the league. With the Giants first round pick in 2005 the Chargers picked Shawne Merriman out of Maryland. Merriman is without question, one of the most dominant defensive players in the league today. Not a bad deal for the Chargers.
Though both Mannings have subsequently won a Super Bowl ring (Eli being very lucky being on the right team at the right time) their luck against the Chargers has not been good. I call it the Bolt curse.
Since 2004 the Mannings are a combines 2-6 against the Chargers. But their losses have not been insignificant, especially for Peyton.
In 2005, the Colts were 14-0 – looking like they might be the first team since Miami to go undefeated in and NFL season. The Chargers roll into Indianapolis and defeat the Colts stopping their undefeated season. The score was 26-17 but it was not that close.
Also in 2005, the Giants come into San Diego for a Sunday night game. They sack Eli a couple of times but the Chargers were in his face all night long. The Chargers destroy the Giants 45-23.
In 2006, the Colts came into San Diego for Sunday night game. The Chargers broke out to an early lead behind kickoff and punt returns for TD’s by Darren Sproles. Manning was picked 5 times by the Chargers 4 by Antonio Cromartie. But the Colts fought their way back into the game and with about a minute left had a 21 yard FG, basically an extra point, to win the game. Adam Vinateri pushed it right and missed the field goal. A Manning loses to the Chargers again!
Later that year, in the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Chargers have to travel to Indianoplis to play the heavily favored Colts. With no LT for most of the game, and no Rivers for the fourth quarter, the outmanned Chargers found a way to come from behind in the Colts house and win the game knocking them out of the playoffs.
Then in the 2008 Wild Card game, the Colts come to San Diego heavily favored again. The Chargers have no LT and no Merriman. There is no way the Chargers will be able to stay with the Colts. The Chargers somehow found a way to get the game to overtime. One of the best moments in my Charger viewing came during the coin toss right before half time. When the Chargers won the toss, you could hear Jamal Williams of the Chargers yell, “game over!” via the referees microphone. The Chargers converted 3 third downs in the drive before Sproles scampered into the end zone for the winning TD. One of the most exciting sporting events I have ever witnessed live.
So the Chargers beat the Giants the first time they face Eli, end the Colts dream of an undefeated season, and knock them out of the playoffs two years on a row. Do you see a trend here? It’s the Bolt Curse on the Mannings!
We turn to 2009 and the Chargers have a date with Eli and the Giants in the Meadowlands. The Giants had started the season 5-0 but had lost the next three games. The Chargers were coming off a two game winning streak albeit against the Chiefs and the Raiders. The Giants have a crushing rushing offense and the Chargers can’t stop the run. The Giants are installed as 5 point favorite.
With 3:30 left in the game, the Giants are winning 17-14 when Rivers throws a horrible pass and the Giants intercept it and take it to the Charger 2 yard line. If they score a TD, the game is over. The Chargers hold the Giants to a field goal, thanks to a holding penalty and the conservative play calling of Tom Coughlin.
The Chargers get the ball back at their 20 with 2 minutes to go down by 6. Philip Rivers leads the Chargers down the field in 1:40 hitting Vincent Jackson in the end zone to tie the game. Nate Kaeding (the kicker picked up in the third round as part of the Rivers-Manning trade) kicks the extra point for the subsequent winning point. Then Merriman (the guy taken in the first round as part of the Rivers-Manning trade) sacks Manning to end the game. I think you call that a trifecta.
All I have to say is that Archie better never come to San Diego, and decide to head over to Tijuana. The Bolt Curse will make sure he gets Montezuma’s revenge.
The Bolt Curse on the Mannings is alive and well.