Eli Manning and Philip Rivers are forever linked

Eli Manning doesn’t feel comfortable talking about why he and

his family didn’t want him to play in San Diego in 2004.

The New York Giants quarterback gets a sheepish look and says he

really doesn’t remember why he spurned a city known for its mild

climates and beaches.

It’s in the past, and he’ll keep it there.

The only reason it was resurrected Wednesday is that the Giants

(5-7) are getting ready to play Rivers and the Chargers (5-7) in

San Diego on Sunday.

It leaves many to wonder what would have happened had Manning

played for the Chargers. Would they have won two Super Bowls with

Manning in charge or would Rivers have been the guy who led New

York to two titles and won two Super Bowl MVPs?

We’ll never know.

The bottom line was the Mannings told the Chargers that Eli

didn’t want to play in southern California and it forced their hand

on draft day in 2004. The Chargers took Manning with the No. 1

overall pick and traded him to the Giants for Philip Rivers – the

No. 4 selection – and three other picks, including the Giants’ No.

1 in 2005.

The deal took 45 minutes to broker and Manning spent the time

doing interviews at the theatre at Madison Square Garden, where the

draft was held.

”It wasn’t an ideal situation,” Manning recalled. ”We were

prepared to go through with it and wait it out.”

In the end, then-Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi pulled off

the deal that got New York its quarterback of the future. Manning

then did a second round of interviews.

”I know I had more smiles the second time around,” Manning

said Wednesday.

Rivers had an interesting take on the trade a decade later.

Speaking on a conference call, he said he doubted the Giants would

have drafted him unless the deal with the Chargers was ironed out,

saying New York didn’t have much interest in him leading up to the

draft.

Many believe the Giants intended to draft Ben Roethlisberger had

they not been able to make the trade for Manning.

”When the Giants drafted me, I thought something must be going

on with San Diego,” Rivers recalled. “So I don’t think about it as

much (what if) because I really don’t think it was as much of a

possibility as it seemed.”

Giants coach Tom Coughlin recalled Accorsi’s conviction.

”I remember Ernie Accorsi making that deal, of being 100

percent in belief that this was the right thing to do for our

franchise,” Coughlin said, later adding he believes the deal

helped both teams.

Manning and Rivers have kept an eye on each other’s careers,

along with that of Roethlisberger, who has led the Steelers to two

Super Bowl titles.

”I definitely have kept up with all of those guys and got to

know them some and got to talk to them, but you’re kind of proud of

your own class,” Manning said. ”You kind of hope your class will

go down as a good class of quarterbacks and players.”

Rivers obviously hopes to win a Super Bowl, too. But he doesn’t

want to win just to get a ring.

”I want to experience it for our team and teammates and the

guys we’ve played with for so long to experience getting to the top

with one another,” Rivers said. ”So you look back over the whole

journey getting there, that’s what is most motivating,, to stand at

the top and say we did it, not that it got you in this category or

this club.”

This will be only the third time Manning has faced the Chargers

in his career. He has never beaten them, losing 45-23 in 2005 when

Drew Brees was the Chargers’ starter. Rivers took over the

following year and led them to a 21-20 win over the Giants in 2009,

guiding a late winning drive.

Manning remembers both games, although that first one in San

Diego was very loud and the crowd showed Manning a lot of

`’love.”

”I don’t know if love was the right word,” Manning said.

”We’ll see what it’s like this year.”

`Manning insists he has nothing against the city.

”We had our rookie symposium there, but besides that, I have

been to San Diego for a few other things,” Manning said. ”I know

it’s a beautiful city and great weather and has a lot of great

things to it.”

When asked what was wrong a decade ago, he hesitated.

”I just can’t remember it,” he said. ”It’s been 10 years. It

slipped my mind.”

NOTES: DE Justin Tuck was chosen NFC defensive player of the

week for his four-sack performance against Washington. … DE Jason

Pierre-Paul still hopes to play this season despite a shoulder

injury that forced him to sit out last weekend. … LB Jon Beason,

who had 17 tackles last weekend, reiterated he wants to play for

the Giants in 2014. … CB Terrell Thomas is finally going to get a

chance to play in his native Southern California after six seasons

in the NFL. He had 67 tickets for the game and the count is going

up daily.

NFL website: -www.pro32.ap.org