posted on Apr, 25 2004 @ 09:08 AM
a bit long but a great read from the seattle times
Sunday, April 25, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Steve Kelley / Times staff columnist
Selfishness shines more brilliantly alongside sacrifice in NFL draft
ED BETZ / AP
Eli Manning was much happier yesterday after the New York Giants made a trade with the San Diego Chargers for the ex-Ole Miss quarterback.
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Eli Manning gets his wish in the end
Eli Manning picked a bad week to manipulate the draft.
In the same week former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman made the ultimate selfless sacrifice, surrendering his life fighting for his country, Eli
Manning was the ultimate in selfishness.
In the same week Tillman was killed in the hellish desolation of Afghanistan, Manning whined to the Chargers that he wouldn't play for them. He said
he'd sit out the season and make himself eligible for the 2005 draft rather than play for San Diego.
So when San Diego took Manning with the first pick in yesterday's NFL draft, he refused to smile and petulantly held the Chargers' jersey as if it
He ignored the offer of the Chargers hat and looked as uncomfortable on the midtown Manhattan stage as Rosie O'Donnell in "Grease."
An hour later Manning was all smiles.
He no longer was a Charger. The New York Giants drafted Philip Rivers and traded him and a gaggle of prime draft picks for Manning. And Eli's smile
beamed across the country as if he were named the winner on "American Idol."
"I don't think so," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren answered when asked if he would have let the Mannings — Eli and his father Archie — manipulate
him as they did the Chargers. "And after I got off my initial shock and maybe my stubbornness, well, I can't imagine that happening. I really can't.
"I'd think there would be some way I could fix that. I think I'd kind of dig in my heels. I don't know the whole story on this one, but on the surface
I don't understand this one too much. I would think San Diego would be a pretty cool place to play."
Yo, Eli. A little perspective here.
Pat Tillman died Thursday and his death touched every American, football fan or not. He believed in his country's war on terrorism so much he gave up
the good life, gave up his three-year, $3.6 million contract with Arizona to be part of that war.
Tillman believed in something other than himself.
"Every time you see a player get busted for drugs or a player getting arrested for beating his wife, I believe it reflects on all of the NFL," former
NFL quarterback Hugh Millen said yesterday. "But now we take so much pride in what Pat Tillman has done, his sacrifices. He is the best the NFL can
"People will remember him. People will know about Pat Tillman. I have kids who are 1 and 3, and I'm going to put a picture of Tillman on my desk and
tell them he's the finest example this league has ever had."
Tillman believed in loyalty so much he once turned down a five-year, $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams and accepted the Cardinals'
$3.6 million deal because he thought he owed allegiance to the team that drafted him.
The draft meant something to Tillman. He understood how important it has been to the league's success.
The draft has helped make the NFL enormously profitable and, in part because of the draft, you will be offered a $15 million signing bonus by the
Giants. Before you take your first snap, you and your family will be secure for life.
A little perspective, Eli.
Tillman was motivated by a personal challenge. He believed in a call to duty. He believed he hadn't done enough for his country.
Apparently all you believed was the Chargers hadn't done enough for you.
So now you're going to New York, where Friday night the fans booed Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. You're going to New York, where a newspaper
headlined a story on the struggling Alex Rodriguez, "Alex in Blunderland."
Remember the boos you heard yesterday? They were a mere harbinger of your life to come as a Giant. You're going to play in Boo York, where the fans
will jeer your every incompletion. You're going to a city that expects the Giants to be in the Super Bowl every year.
When that doesn't happen you will be the focus of everything that goes wrong. Every talk show will be questioning the three draft picks the Giants
gave up for you. You will be in the center of a quarterback controversy that won't disappear.
Kerry Collins? Eli Manning?
You'd better hope you're the next John Elway, who refused to go the Baltimore Colts in the 1982 draft. My guess is you won't be.
The league is littered with first-round QB flops — Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf, Cade McNown.
You could have made it easy on yourself. After the announcement of Tillman's death you could have called a news conference and said you had rethought
You could have said that you wanted to stand on the same kind of principles as Tillman. That you would accept your fate, go to San Diego and help turn
around a franchise.
"I will tell you this," Holmgren said yesterday. "The Manning family — and I know Archie and I know (Indianapolis quarterback) Peyton — that's as
classy a group of people as you'll ever meet."
But this week, the Manning family's timing stunk.