Manning’s snub of the Chargers could get him maimed, killed

What do John Elway, J.D. Drew, Eric Lindros, and Eli Manning have in common? They were all consensus No. 1 picks in their respective drafts and they all told the team with the No. 1 pick that they would never don their uniforms.

Manning, the most recent member of the draft-day snubbers club, recently had his father Archie tell San Diego Chargers GM A.J. Smith that he was not interested in playing for the Chargers, and that they should not draft him.

In the history of draft-day snubbers, only John Elway has ever won a championship, and that came in the twilight of his career, after he had paid his dues for being an insolent jerk. The other two, Lindros and Drew, have never lived up to expectations and certainly paid the price for their high-handed egotism.

Lindros, who is one concussion away from becoming a vegetable, refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques after they drafted him in 1991. Since then, he has been hopping from team to team, only to log more time on the injured reserve list than the ice.

To make matters worse, the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche and went on to win two Stanley Cups, while Lindros has been playing occasionally for the lowly New York Rangers as of late.

To be fair, Lindros did have three or four outstanding seasons for the Philadelphia Flyers, but even those were a far cry from the hype that surrounded Lindros when he entered the league.

Similar hype surrounded outfielder J.D. Drew when he entered Major League Baseball’s entry draft, and after denying the Philadelphia Phillies the right to sign him, Drew wound up with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Drew, who is now with Atlanta, has played six injury-plagued seasons, never appearing in more than 135 games, and never living up to the 40/40 (stolen bases/home runs) hype that has since smothered his career.

It surprises me that a star athlete like Eli Manning would follow the lead of Drew and Lindros, given the magnitude of their debacles. Shouldn’t he have employed a little hindsight before he decided to whine about the team that was going to draft him?

Actually, hindsight is probably what caused his decision in the first place. He probably looked over his shoulder at Drew Brees and Ryan Leaf, two “can’t-miss” QB prospects of drafts past. Leaf was chosen by the Chargers with the second overall pick in the 1998 draft, but he was terrible in three NFL seasons, despite going into the draft ranked ahead of Peyton Manning on many draft boards.

Brees was the 33rd overall pick in the 2001 draft, but he was touted as the eventual savior of the Chargers nonetheless. Instead of succeeding Dan Fouts as the next great Chargers QB, Brees has succeeded Leaf as the next great Charger flop.

Both Leaf and Brees had great tools coming out of college, so Eli probably sees the San Diego Chargers as a quarterback graveyard that he doesn’t want a plot in.

Can you blame him?


If Stan Humphries can lead the Chargers to a Super Bowl, then anyone can. Suck it up.

But since he’s past the point of sucking it up, let’s look at the potential scenarios facing the youngest Manning.

1. The Chargers draft him anyway, and Manning sits out for the whole season, tarnishing his reputation beyond repair. The angry football gods have him traded to Arizona, where he has two miserable seasons as a starter before tremendous pressure and wilted confidence cause his ultimate demise.

2. The Giants trade up to the No. 1 pick on Saturday and nab Manning. After an understudy season in which Kerry Collins flourishes, Manning whines again, this time about playing time, and the Giants trade him to Arizona, where he plays to his heart’s content behind an inept offensive line before his spine is eventually crushed by Michael Strahan.

3. The football gods are not angry at Manning-instead they are angry at A.J. Smith for revealing Manning’s concerns about playing for the Chargers with the intent of ruining his reputation. The Giants acquire Manning in the draft, while the Chargers get tackle Robert Gallery. Manning shines immediately after Collins injures his leg in the first game and the Giants build a dynasty around Manning that lasts two decades. Meanwhile, Gallery follows in the footsteps of Tony Mandarich, who was picked second overall in 1989 but was awful in his brief NFL career as a tackle.

So what will it be for Manning the third? Success? Bust? Or will he opt for Len Bias’ fate and overdose on cocaine on draft night?

I guess I don’t really care. I just want to see who takes him.

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