A while back, an idea came to me: Make a list of the top 10 players in New York Giants football history.
Eli Manning was drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the first overall pick in the 2004 Draft, but was soon involved in one of the most influential draft-day trades in Giants history.
After he spoke with Chargers head honchos, it was clear that Manning didn't want to play for San Diego, and the Giants dealt away Philip Rivers and two picks that would later become Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding to acquire the former Ole Miss Rebel.
Many people asked if this was a good move or one that would cost the organization down the road. Five years later, it is clear that it was a bold, risky, yet wise move by the Giants organization.
Rivers, Merriman, and Kaeding have a combined four Pro Bowls, but Rivers has none to Manning's one. Let's be honest, though: Do Pro Bowls matter?
No. Do Super Bowl rings matter? Yes.
Super Bowl MVP's? Not so much, but who doesn't want a little ice cream with their cake?
Through the Years
Manning sat for most of his rookie year before getting the nod in 2005 after Kurt Warner voided the final year of his deal.
Eli showed flashes of brilliance in a 350-yard, two-touchdown game against the team he snubbed on draft day; a four-TD game at home against the Rams; and a touchdown toss to Amani Toomer with only eight seconds left in Week Six's game.
Overall, his first year as a starter was a success, as Manning finished in the top five for passing yards and touchdowns while leading the No. 3-ranked offense in the NFL.
However, the following year proved to be much harder, as injuries to the offensive line and Eli himself proved difficult to overcome. A second-half collapse pushed him down all the way to 18th in the league in Quarterback Rating for 2006.
But then, the 2007 season was something special: It was Michael Strahan's last season with the Giants and his first Super Bowl ring. And no Giants fan will ever forget Eli leading the G-Men past the Buccaneers in the opening round of the Playoffs, going 20-of-27 on his attempts with two touchdowns, leading the team to a 24-14 victory.
The second round was even better, as Big Blue avenged two regular-season losses to the division rival Dallas Cowboys. The Giants became the first NFC team in history to beat the No. 1 seed in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Now, most people think I'm crazy (other Giants fans included) when I tell them that my favorite Manning performance of all time was against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship.
All I can say about this game is that if you can get your hands on a copy of this game, treasure it. Nothing better than a backyard brawl that went into OT and was won on a field goal.
The rest of course, is history, as the New York Giants went on to beat the New England Patriots in the most-watched event in the history of the United States of America. Manning captured MVP honors and will forever be remembered for his late-game heroics, which included a 30-yard bomb to David Tyree.
Outlook for 2009
With Plaxico Burress departing in the offseason, the Giants have been rumored to be seeking a trade with the Cleveland Browns or Arizona Cardinals for Braylon Edwards or last year's phenom, Anquan Boldin.
Knowing the Giants organization, there will be a great move made that will only further young Manning's career. And I know we all plan on sticking around and watching him toss the pigskin for years to come.
Written and created by Travis Rand, NYG Community Leader