How Big Ben, not Eli, could have been the Giants’ QB

INDIANAPOLIS — Seated at the most crowded podium during Tuesday’s Media Day, Giants QB Eli Manning fielded questions about older brother Peyton‘s healthand playing in his second Super Bowl. But what if Manning never was traded to the Giants on the day the Chargers drafted him No. 1 overall in 2004?

Giants owner John Mara answers questions during Media Day on Tuesday. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

The man behind that podium actually might have been Ben Roethlisberger.

On Tuesday, Giants owner John Mara recalled the crazy April day eight years ago when New York and San Diego eventually reached a deal that sent Manning to Big Blue, which agreed to draft Philip Rivers at No. 4 and trade him in a package that included two other unused draft picks.

But had the deal never been done, Mara said, the Giants instead would have selected Roethlisberger.

“(Chargers general manager) A.J. (Smith) played it pretty cool,” Mara said. “There was no communication the night before until I think we were on the clock. It really did go down to the wire. Our backup plan was Ben Roethlisberger, so we felt like we were in good shape. But we had our hearts set on Eli at the time.”

If the Giants win, Manning and Roethlisberger will be tied for second among active quarterbacks with two Super Bowls each. Only Tom Brady, with three, would have more.

— Jeff Darlington

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