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Today in Sports History: 4/24 – Eli Manning Drafted First in 2004 NFL Draft

Today in sports history (2004), Eli Manning was selected first overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Manning had a lot of hype surrounding him due in part to his family legacy. Archie, his father, was a star for New Orleans and his brother Peyton showed that he could be the franchise player in Indianapolis.

In college, Manning recorded an incredible career. This included an All-American selection and SEC Player of the Year. Controversy surrounded Manning when he was drafted. Archie had learned that the Chargers did not help Ryan Leaf with his mental struggles, leading to him barring Eli from playing for them. After the Chargers drafted Manning, he was eventually traded to the Giants in return for fellow rookie Philip Rivers.

Eli Manning Drafted First in 2004 NFL Draft
Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Eli Manning Draft First in 2004 NFL Draft

Expectations were high for Manning coming into this rookie year. He did not totally live up to those expectations right away. He made his debut against the Philadelphia Eagles Week 1, but he did not start the game. Rather, he relieved Kurt Warner late in the game. He went 3-9 with 66 yards.

Eli Manning made his first career start on November 21 against the Falcons. In the game, he threw his first touchdown to Jeremy Shockey. In his fourth start against the Ravens, he recorded a 0.0 passer rating and was eventually pulled in favor of Warner. Week 15 proved to be Manning’s first great game, as he recorded 182 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers.

Manning finally picked up his first win as a starter in the regular season finale. He recorded 144 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Manning finished his rookie year with 1,043 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions.

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