Chargers Draft

LA Chargers: Looking back at each time the team drafted a QB in the first round

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 24: Ryan Leaf #16 of the San Diego Chargers looks to the sideline during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers played on December 24, 2001 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 24: Ryan Leaf #16 of the San Diego Chargers looks to the sideline during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers played on December 24, 2001 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK CITY – APRIL 24: Quarterback Eli Manning (Mississippi) stands next to his older brother QB Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts after Eli was selected first overall by the San Diego Chargers at the 2004 NFL Draft on April 24, 2004, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Manning was later traded to the New York Giants in exchange for QB Philip Rivers (North Carolina State) and New York’s third-round pick (No. 65), which they use to select Iowa K Nate Kaeding, and the Giants’ first-round and fifth-round picks in the 2005 draft. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY – APRIL 24: Quarterback Eli Manning (Mississippi) stands next to his older brother QB Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts after Eli was selected first overall by the San Diego Chargers at the 2004 NFL Draft on April 24, 2004, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Manning was later traded to the New York Giants in exchange for QB Philip Rivers (North Carolina State) and New York’s third-round pick (No. 65), which they use to select Iowa K Nate Kaeding, and the Giants’ first-round and fifth-round picks in the 2005 draft. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

2004: Eli Manning

It was Eli Manning, not Rivers, who the team drafted in 2004.

Following a 4-12 2003 season, the Chargers had the No.1 overall pick in the 2004 draft. Despite Manning and his father, Archie, coming out and saying Eli would never agree to play for the team, the Chargers drafted him anyway.

But just as the Colts did in 1983 after drafting John Elway No. 1 and then trading him away after he stated he would not play for the team, the Chargers worked a deal with the New York Giants, who had drafted Rivers at No. 4 overall.

The trade worked out pretty well for the Chargers.

The Chargers also received a 2005 fifth-round pick in that deal, which they would later traded away. Manning earned the ire of Chargers fans forever and to this day, has never publicly stated why he refused to play for the team, though many have speculated it has to do with the way the organization is run from the top down.

Manning did go on to win two Super Bowls with the Giants but he was never able to beat the Chargers, going 0-4 against them in his career.

The Chargers ended up with Rivers out of the deal and though he was never able to win the Super Bowl, he earned the love and admiration from Chargers fans for life.

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