Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How will Billy King's move measure up?

By John Gottlieb

All we can do is go to a bar, pound a couple shots of tequila, drink six more beers and ponder what might've been if so-and-so hadn't made the worst trade in sports history, thus ruining the championship aspirations of our favorite teams.

Ironic isn't it that what some people consider to be the worst trades, others consider to be the best.

Every Dallas Cowboys fan remembers October 12, 1989 as a day that changed the future of the bleak franchise with "The Trade." It was on that day that star running back Herschel Walker was dealt to Minnesota for what amounted to Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, Darren Woodson and Clayton Holmes.

Since then, the Vikings have made the playoffs 10 times with a 5-10 record and lost two NFC Championship games, while the Cowboys won three Super Bowls and are once again "America's Team."

Albeit a bit premature, it's time to take a look at the trade the made Eli Manning the franchise quarterback of the New York Giants. Yes, it's still too soon to say that Eli will never become the leader Giants GM Ernie Accorsi thought he was getting on Draft Day 2004, but early returns show that years from now we will most likely look at this deal and compare it to "The Trade."

The Giants acquired the rights to Eli Manning, who was chosen by San Diego with the No. 1 pick, in exchange for what turned out to be Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding, Shawne Merriman and Roman Oben...all but Oben being key contributorsto the AFC's best team.

Since Eli took over for Kurt Warner in the middle of the 2004 season, he's 19-18 (8-6 vs. the NFC East) as a starter, not including a 23-0 blowout loss at home to Carolina in last year's playoffs.

He's completed 669-of-1,225 passes for a 54.6 percentage and 7,874 yards with 52 touchdowns and 43 interceptions.

Manning, who will turn 26 on January 3, is tied with Brett Favre for the third lowest completion percentage (59.4) this season among the league's passers with at least 400 attempts, and is also tied for second in the NFC with Rex Grossman in interceptions (17).

Peyton's little brother has already been questioned by Tom Coughlin, Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey. Coughlin is losing control of this team, if he hasn't already, Barber's got one foot out the door, and Burress and Shockey are both nuisances that refuse to workout with Manning in the offseason.

And Michael Strahan is in the twilight of his career, so whether he likes it or not, this is going to be Eli's team soon. At times he looks like a fish out of water in the No. 1 media market in the country, longing to be back in the friendly confines of the South, where the Mannings are treated like the Rockefellers.

He's got the weapons, but can he put it all together before its too late? Chances are Eli will be an afterthought behind Archie and Peyton, both top-flight NFL signal-callers.

Instead of crying about playing in beautiful San Diego, forcing A.J. Smith to make the deal that reshaped the franchise, Manning should of been more than happy to learn under Marty Shottenheimer, who had success with Bernie Kosar, Rich Gannon, Joe Montana, Drew Brees and even Steve Bono and Elvis Grbac.

Oh, and no disrespect to Tiki, but Eli could've played with maybe the greatest running back of all time, relieving some of the pressure of being the first overall pick.

Meanwhile, after playing in only four games in his first two seasons, Rivers has been everything the Chargers hoped when they let Drew Brees go to New Orleans. He's completing 62.8 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and only eight picks.

The Chargers sit at 12-2 and are on the verge of clinching a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Despite missing four games with a drug-related suspension, Merriman is one of the most dominating defensive forces in the game. After 10 sacks in his rookie season that saw him start in the Pro Bowl and win Defensive Rookie of theYear, Merriman has 12 1/2 sacks and an interception in just 10 games this season.

Kaeding has solidified the kicking game, missing only 11 field goals in three seasons, with only three being less than 40 yards. Oben has started 24 games in San Diego, but none since missing the last eight games of the 2005 season with a foot injury.

Accorsi has already stated that this is his last season after a 36-year career in the NFL, beginning as the public relations director for the Baltimore Colts in 1970. He took over the football operations of the Giants in 1998, and itwould be a shame if this was the move he was most remembered for.

Giants fans all over are already tired of Manning's inconsistencies, and he's not going anywhere. This has the possibility to place Big Blue in NFL mediocrity for the next few years...a scenario that will not be accepted by the faithful and will probably cost Coughlin his job.

TOP 20 WORST TRADES IN SPORTS HISTORY:
1. Boston sends Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000, plus a $300,000 loan,in 1920.

2. The Celtics acquired Robert Parish and the No. 3 pick in the 1980 draft, which was used to take Kevin McHale, from the Warriors for the No. 1 pick in the draft, which was used to take Joe Barry Carroll, and the No. 13 choice, which was used on Rickey Brown.

3. "The Trade" (see above)

4. The Winnipeg Jets traded their third-round pick, which was used to select Patrick Roy, in the 1984 draft to Montreal for journeyman defenseman Robert Picard.

5. Reds trade Frank Robinson to Baltimore for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson in 1965. Robinson won the Triple Crown and was named MVP of the ALCS and World Series as Baltimore claimed its first championship in his first season with the Orioles.

6. Baltimore trades the draft rights to John Elway to Denver in exchange for quarterback Mark Hermann, the rights to offensive tackle Chris Hinton and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft (Ron Solt).

7. The St. Louis Hawks trade Bill Russell to Boston for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan in 1956.

8. Warriors trade Wilt Chamberlain to 76ers for Paul Neumann, Connie Dierking, Lee Shaffer and cash in 1965.

9. Dodgers get Delino DeShields from Montreal for Pedro Martinez in 1993.

10. Bucks trade Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Lakers for Elmore Smith, Junior Bridgeman, Brian Winters and Dave Meyers in 1975.

11. Tom Seaver to Reds for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman, and Pat Zachry in 1977.

12. Nolan Ryan, along with pitcher Don Rose, outfielder Leroy Stanton and catcher Francisco Estrada to California in exchange for shortstop Jim Fregosi in 1971.

13. Julius Erving goes from the Nets to Philadelphia for $3 million in 1976.

14. Vancouver trades Cam Neely to Bruins with a No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft(Glen Wesley) for center Barry Pederson in 1986.

15. Cubs trade Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz and Doug Clemens in 1964.

16. The Charlotte Hornets send the draft rights to Kobe Bryant to the Lakers for Vlade Divac in 1996. With the deal Los Angeles got much needed cap room and were able to land Shaquille O'Neal and three NBA titles to Tinseltown.

17. Tigers get pitcher Doyle Alexander from the Braves for John Smoltz in1987.

18. Philadelphia trades Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa to the Cubs for Ivan DeJesus in 1982.

19. Minnesota gets Johan Santana with cash from Florida for Jared Camp in1999.

20. Blackhawks send Dominik Hasek to the Sabres in 1992 for backup goalie St├ęphane Beauregard and a fourth-round draft pick.

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