Rivers: Draft-day trade in rearview mirror

SAN DIEGO -- It has been nearly 10 years since Eli Manning spurned the San Diego Chargers, telling the organization not to draft him because he’d rather play elsewhere.

That moment still resonates for many fans of this team.

But for the guy Manning was traded for, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, it’s in the past.

"It's funny, the New York media just asked me how many times you have been asked about that whole thing," Rivers told reporters here Wednesday. "And I said, 'Well, none.' They kind of thought I was kidding. But it hasn't been brought up as far as among the guys. It’s just so far removed."

The Chargers and the Giants meet for the third time since San Diego selected Manning as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft, then traded him to the Giants for Rivers along with three more draft picks.

The Chargers have won both meetings, including a Sept. 25, 2005 contest Drew Brees started (45-23, Chargers) in Manning's only trip to San Diego, when the Giants quarterback was loudly booed by the Qualcomm Stadium crowd.

Rivers defeated the Giants in his only start against his former team on Nov. 8, 2009, a 21-20 victory at MetLife Stadium.

Manning expects to hear boos this time around as well.

"It won’t surprise me if I do," Manning said. "I’m sure it will be brought up. If some people have put it behind them after 10 years, then that wouldn’t surprise me, either."

Manning has gone on to start 147 consecutive games and win two Super Bowls with the Giants. Rivers has had an exceptional career as well for San Diego, starting 124 consecutive games. But the Chargers have a 3-5 playoff record and zero Super Bowl appearances during his tenure.

"I never really thought I was going to New York," Rivers said about his draft day experience. "When you get drafted by a team and you've still never spoken to them, there's usually a good chance it wasn't real.

"But it certainly was crazy. And to think it's been almost 10 years -- time flies."

If it's any solace for San Diego fans, Manning is having perhaps the worst season of his 10-year NFL career. For the first time since his rookie season, Manning has more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (15). He has been sacked a career-high 31 times, posting an underwhelming 74.3 passer rating.

Still, the New York Giants have won five of their past six games to move back into contention for the NFC East title. And not surprisingly, Giants coach Tom Coughlin still supports his quarterback.

"He's been an extremely steady, consistent player," Coughlin said. "He works hard at it. He works hard on the field. He works hard in the classroom, and so on and so forth. And he is a model of efficiency in terms of how he goes about preparing and working on the practice field."

Only four players remain on San Diego's roster who were around when the team made the trade: tight end Antonio Gates, center Nick Hardwick, punter Mike Scifres and Rivers.

Rivers said he has never talked to Manning about draft day.

"You’re always linked to guys, especially that you were traded for and with, and guys in your class," Rivers said. "So I certainly have followed him closely. I'm sure there will be one day when we can really kind of hash it all out and talk about how the whole thing went down."