Talk is Cheap

To draft Eli Manning or not to draft Eli, that is the question. Why, from the beginning, have so many San Diego Charger fans not taken the idea of drafting Manning seriously? Even the national sports media has had a tough time buying that idea. What will the reactions be if Paul Tagliabue steps to the microphone and creates a direct link between the hottest name in football with arguably the worst team?

Unfortunately, many Charger fans will react in a fashion that years of losing have perpetuated.

The inevitable, "How good is the quarterback if he doesn't have anyone to throw to?" or my personal favorite, "Eli won't live past the first year considering what we have in front of him!" will surely be the subject of the message boards. Sure, the one optimist will try to look on the bright side, but that opinion will be immediately shot down because "Eli is – shorter than Peyton!"

Here is an interesting question for Charger fans to ask themselves. If we had gone 9-7 this year, like many of us were expecting, and Brees was still our man, would the Charger faithful be so critical of Eli?

I know many are saying, "Of course I would." But isn't the bigger picture more difficult to judge when the team involved is yours? Let's examine why the thought of the Chargers picking a QB is so hard to imagine, but also look at the actual signs that point in that direction, albeit few and far between.

We just might be surprised with the conclusions we draw.

Three years ago, when we traded back from the number 1 pick (to the fifth) must have been one of the most exciting times of my Charger life. Growing up, I was used to Beathard trading away our picks. But now, we have a GM that trades back and collects more picks? What a weird concept. Everyone knew that Tomlinson was going to fall in our laps, but the true jewel of the draft was picking Drew Brees. Many had speculated that he would go in the late first round. After all, he was a gamer who had every intangible that Leaf did not. Maybe the fact that he was shorter than most, and did not have quite the cannon that other franchise QB's have, was refreshing in its own ironic way. Guys with less skill and ability always have more to prove than All-American types, and usually do it in the wins/loss column.

So when Brees (following a solid first year as a starter) took such a monumental step back, the fan base was shocked! I know I was! Coming into the year, we thought our offense was going to win games for us. Our line was deep, we had a superstar wide receiver, LT was LT, and Brees now has the personnel to maximize his smarts.

Well, good ole Murphy decided to take his law and smack us upside our head.

The Chargers went from being an up and comer to the bottom dweller of the league, again. So, once again, we find ourselves in the same spot we were three years ago before having an opportunity to scratch our heads and ask "What went wrong?" After all, hadn't all of our drafts under John Butler graded high? Every publication known to man, including Cat Fancy, gave us an A- or higher. Three solid drafts and we are right back were we started? No wonder Charger fans are so pessimistic! Just when we thought we shook the "the way of the Beathard", we were sucked back in!

It is understandable that fans want to draft offensive linemen. The one open criticism coming from the Charger circles about Butler's draft picks, was the lack of quality offensive lineman. Many of us wanted to pick Bryant McKinnie as opposed to Quentin Jammer. Or even last year, why didn't we bite the bullet and pick Kwame Harris. The one fear Charger fans had, soon became a harsh reality. So why not address the problem this year, pick Gallery, and go on with our business? Is this the direction our administration is leaning towards? It would make sense, but unfortunately I do not interpret the signs as such. In light of the consistent poker face from the administration, it is time to look at what they do, and not what they say. Actions do, after all, speak louder than words.

Brees was benched several times during the course of the year. Flutie came in and won just as many ball games as Brees while starting in far less games. Consequently, Brees did not even get the obligatory "vote of confidence". The organization made it a point to say "the QB position would be addressed in the off season". Naturally, everyone figured it would be done through free agency. But, names such as Brunell, Garcia, Kitna and recently Couch came and went. The media speculated that we wanted Brunell. But did we? Remember folks, actions are the key, or in this case, the lack of action. To have a shot at Brunell, the Chargers had to make a trade proposal. At least three other teams reportedly did so, or so the rumor wire said, but the Chargers did not. The only thing that the fans and media clung to was our GM making references that "Brunell still had a lot of football left in him". And then there is Drew Henson, enough said. Just maybe, from the get go, drafting a QB was our original intention.

On to the next point … the gutting of the franchise.

Between David Boston, Marcellus Wiley, Vaughn Parker, and Ray Lee Johnson, the Chargers should receive a hefty bit of change towards next years cap. Many of us, including me, figured we would take every scrap of dimes we could and offer either a top name quarterback or an offensive tackle. Instead we went after guys like Mike Goff, Kevin Dyson, Steve Foley, and the new fan favorite Leander Jordan. So, what is the plan with the money we did save? Since our cap next year should be encouraging, why not go after bigger free agents and shift the majority of their contracts over the next couple of years? I am not a capologists, but if the Raiders, Redskins, and Eagles could find a way I am sure the Chargers could as well. Again maybe, just maybe, we are saving all our nickels and dimes for a signing bonus that only a franchise QB could demand.

As I said earlier, "talk is cheap". But excess fumes from the mouth could be used as a weapon, if chosen wisely.

AJ denies time and time again that anyone has presented offers for our pick. If the Chargers really wanted to trade out of that spot, wouldn't they use the opposite approach?

Imagine the nerd in the high school locker room that claims how many girls he gets. We all know he is not telling the truth. But we do ask ourselves, where does the truth stop and the fibbing begin.

If the Chargers seriously wanted to jettison from #1, wouldn't we claim that our phone is ringing off the hook? If anything, that might make the value of our pick go up a little. I am sure the Chargers have had inquires. But the silence of it all is truly perplexing. Maybe AJ and company are using reverse psychology.

Think about this. If Eli or Ben knew they were wanted that badly, wouldn't that increase their negotiation power? Maybe, just maybe, AJ is playing it safe. Not in terms of driving up our value, but possibly decreasing it? I know it is a reach, but allow me to continue.

I know up to this point most of what I have said has been speculation. But I am going to provide a couple inside tidbits of info:

Word around Oxford is that Gatorade is sitting on a nice contract (the figure I hear is 75 million) waiting for Eli to sign once he is drafted. So much for the Giant's argument that Eli cannot command a market in San Diego. Every Eli promo for Gatorade (assuming the validity of this rumor) would have him in a Charger backdrop. That type of pub is awfully spicy if you ask me. Considering that I am convinced that all CEO's and NFL owners are apart of the Illuminati, I am sure Alex Spanos received a heads up about this in between sacrificing a lamb and ordering the assassination of yet another dictator in a third world nation. That, in combination with some stadium discussions as of late and after two years of deadlock, would make even Aresino Hall himself say "Hmmm".

Finally, coming from yet another source in rebel land (Ole Miss), word is that the Chargers have requested more film and have made more inquiries about Eli than any other team in the NFL.

Some would say, "We are just covering our basis!"

If that's the case, I would speculate that the Giants, Cardinals, Browns, Steelers, or any other team who would have to give up picks, would be doing more homework than the Chargers. Why would we waste our time if he were not seriously considering taking him? Does this not contradict months of speculation leading up to the QB workouts? So many signs point in that direction. Eli is a gold mind in terms of publicity. Imagine the Monday Night Football games, billboards, potential Gatorade bottles, the Manning bowl, SI covers and the Eli Flakes (sorry Doug). Wouldn't all these factors, and more, not influence the Charger's decision?

Does all of this mean that the Chargers will absolutely take Eli? No! Could we still trade out? Yes! However, it does show that the Chargers have been considering Eli very hard from the beginning. Rumors have been running rampant ever since Josh McCown gave us an early Christmas present back in December.

Up until the QB workouts, most argued that the Chargers were more likely to trade. But since these series of events imply that drafting a QB was our original intention, would it not make sense to consider the very possibility that the Chargers have had their eye on one player, in particular, since the beginning? Recent AJ and Marty quotes might suggest otherwise.

But as I have been saying all along, actions speak louder than words.

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