Chargers All-Time Lists

Los Angeles Chargers: Top 5 villains in team history

8 Aug 1998: Quarterback Ryan Leaf #16 of the San Diego Chargers prepares to throw the ball during a pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the 49ers 27-21.
8 Aug 1998: Quarterback Ryan Leaf #16 of the San Diego Chargers prepares to throw the ball during a pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the 49ers 27-21.
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NEW YORK – APRIL 24: Eli Manning holding up a San Diego Chargers jersey was selected first pick overall by the Chargers then traded to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers and 3 draft picks during the 2004 NFL Draft on April 24, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK – APRIL 24: Eli Manning holding up a San Diego Chargers jersey was selected first pick overall by the Chargers then traded to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers and 3 draft picks during the 2004 NFL Draft on April 24, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Eli Manning

Look at that grin on Eli Manning’s face.

Eli was so excited to be drafted by the Chargers with the No.1 overall pick of the 2004 draft that he absolutely refused to play for the team. Faced with that, the Chargers traded his draft rights to the New York Giants for the player they had selected with the No. 4 overall choice, Philip Rivers.

Chargers fans aren’t complaining about getting Rivers, that has worked out well. But Eli will always be strongly disliked for shunning the team.

Though the exact reasons for Manning’s decision have never really come out, several theories exist. Many fans always felt that Eli’s father, Archie Manning, was the driving force behind everything. However, Archie denied that in an interview with Rich Eisen in 2016.

One of the more popular opinions, and one that seems likely, is that Eli’s brother and legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who was a friend of Leaf, was afraid that his little brother would fail in the same way Leaf did, putting the blame for Leaf’s poor career on the Chargers’ organization.

The Chargers have paid Eli back by beating him every time they’ve played him. Eli holds a record of 0-4 against the Bolts, including losses of 22 and 23 points. However, Eli does have two Super Bowl rings, so he may get the last laugh.

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