Is Ryan Leaf to Thank for Eli Manning Becoming a Giant?

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Photo: Getty Images

The Giants began voluntary workouts this week, and for the most part, the stories about the team haven’t been terribly exciting: Osi Umenyiora returned as expected to the practice field, all of the team’s receivers actually showed up early for a change, and zero-time Super Bowl winner Fran Tarkenton criticized Eli Manning to an Atlanta radio station. But one item, from the Arizona Republic, answers a question we had forgotten we’d even wondered about: Why exactly was the Manning family so insistent that Eli would not play for the Chargers, who took him with the first pick of the 2004 Draft? Turns out, it might all be Ryan Leaf’s doing.

Any anecdote that comes from a family friend of Leaf’s during a game of golf should probably be taken with a grain of salt, but as the story goes, Leaf once told Eli’s brother Peyton how the Chargers didn’t do much to smooth his transition to the pros. Peyton, who had a far better experience in Indianapolis, must have relayed this information to his family, and it stuck with them. So when Eli was drafted by San Diego, father Archie wanted nothing to do with the franchise, thus forcing them to trade Eli to New York. Who knew? Ryan Leaf did accomplish something in the NFL!

A Manning mystery cleared up [Arizona Republic via FanHouse]