Cassilo: Giants should ask for redo of 2004 NFL draft

David Cassilo

It’s never fun to be a fan of a team going through an awful season. Just ask Pittsburgh Pirates or Atlanta Hawks fans (assuming they exist). Mo Vaughn and the New York Mets gave Mets fans some pretty bad days early in this decade, but nothing was as bad as the New York Giants 2003 season. After a 4-4 start to the season, the Giants lost their final eight games of the season. Things got so bad Jesse “The Bachelor” Palmer started the majority of the games down the stretch and played about as well as his female contestants on the ABC show could have done. Bad turned to worse after a 45-7 beat down on Sunday night by the Saints in which wide receiver Joe Horn even took out his cell phone after a touchdown presumably to call people and tell them how bad they were.

However, the one positive aspect of having a truly terrible season is that you get to look forward to next year’s draft. This is assuming of course you are not a New York Knicks fan and Isiah Thomas has not traded away your draft picks. After all the pain during the ’03 season, Draft Day 2004 arrived. Like the sports nerd that I am, I spent months scouring the Internet for draft news and compiling countless mock drafts of my own.

Finally the day arrived. There had been a lot of talk leading up to the draft about which quarterback the Giants should pick, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger. Each player had their own scouting report. Roethlisberger was built like a lumberjack but played in a weak conference. Rivers put up impressive statistics but had an unorthodox throwing motion. Manning came from a football family and played well in college, but his team was consistently mediocre. Nobody was perfect, but each appeared to have promising professional careers.

The Chargers were on the clock to start the afternoon, and everyone knew they would pick Eli. However, the word on the street was that Father Manning did not think San Diego was committed to winning and wanted his son to be a New York Giant. The Chargers picked Manning, the Giants picked Rivers and a trade was made. The Giants wound up trading Rivers and several draft picks for Manning. Although, the Chargers initially demanded Osi Umenyiora and the Giants’ second-round pick in the trade, General Manager Ernie Accorsi stuck to his guns and was still able to pull it off. The second-round pick turned out to be tremendous guard Chris Snee, while the Chargers picks turned into Shawne Merri-roid and Nate Kaeding. About an hour after the trade, Roethlisberger slipped down to the Pittsburgh Steelers as pick No. 11, but that was all an after thought. The Giants had the next great Manning, and obviously they were going to the Super Bowl in just a few years.

Now as these three quarterbacks wind down on their fourth full season in the NFL, can we ask for a do-over? Having watched every Manning game ever played in the NFL, I consider myself an expert on his career. Yes, I have defended him time and time again saying he just needs more playing experience, but my patience is running thin, and I may have to give in to the critics soon. Eli Manning has his nice games here and there, but he is the King of Inconsistency. Like Drew Bledsoe or the bad Brett Favre from last year, he’ll give you the yards and touchdowns, but he’ll also give you the interceptions and those moments that make you just want to shake your head. Maybe the best is yet to come, but every time I say that about Eli, I find myself staring at the mirror the following Sunday wondering if it is really worth it to be a Giants fan.

Would I cancel the trade and get Rivers back? Absolutely not. The few times I have seen Rivers this season I became so disgusted I had to turn off the game. Maybe it’s Norv Turner’s fault, but it seems as though unless someone forgets to guard Antonio Gates, Rivers is busy whaling a ball 30 feet over someone’s head. If I want inconsistency, I’ll stick with my buddy Eli. At least he throws the ball like a normal human being even if it does land in the other team’s hands.

What I want is Big Ben. Roethlisberger had all the tools coming out of college but wasn’t given a fair shake by most teams because he played for Miami of Ohio in the Mid-American Conference. So what has he given all of those lucky Steelers fans since? Not only is he putting up the best season for a quarterback in the AFC not named Brady, but he also has the one thing coveted more than anything in football: A Super Bowl ring. Yes, he had a bad ’06 season but has shown more ability and more promise than Manning and Rivers combined. Big Ben also possesses that “it” factor that every quarterback needs if he is going to lead his team to the Bowl.

Unfortunately, the Giants can’t have Roethlisberger. The Giants can’t even have Larry Fitzgerald, Kellen Winslow, Roy Williams, DeAngelo Hall, Steven Jackson or anyone else you can think of in that ’04 NFL Draft. They’ve got Eli Manning. Hopefully that will prove to be enough because as long as Roethlisberger keeps winning and Eli keeps struggling, the regrets will keep increasing.

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David Cassilo is a sophomore communication major from Chatham, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]