Will revenge be sweet?

Bucking the system. Sure it was a knock against the San Diego Chargers but more than that it was a punch in the jaw to the NFL. Eli Manning, circa April of 2004.

Eli's coming, and the Chargers -- and their fans -- can't wait.

It was some 17 months ago that Eli Manning told the Chargers not to draft him with the first pick of the draft. The request was seen as an indictment on the organization, which took him anyway and traded him to the New York Giants for the quarterback they really wanted: Philip Rivers.

But the Chargers have more at stake than giving Manning a San Diego welcome. This is a team that is desperate for a win after dropping its first two contests.

Said Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson: "It's still fairly early, but at the same time we can't drop any more -- 0-2 is pretty much the max."

At the minimum, the Chargers thought they would be facing the Giants with at least one victory. But after stumbling at home against the Cowboys then making their annual losing visit to Denver, the AFC West champions have lost their swagger.

They would like nothing more than to recapture it by beating the Giants and making Manning eat his words. That goes for the players and the front office.

"I didn't understand the reason why, and they could never give you a reason why, and it really didn't matter to me," Chargers team president Dean Spanos said about the Manning family's reluctance for Eli to come to San Diego. "We were going to do whatever we wanted to do anyway, and so we did and we drafted him."

Added nose tackle Jamal Williams, who will be looking right at Manning before the snap: "For a guy who said he doesn't want to play for an organization, it was disrespectful to all of us."

Not only to the Chargers, but the NFL.

"This kid is a rookie, he's the first pick overall," linebacker Ben Leber said. "Why is he being picky about where he wants to go? It should be, 'You know what, I should be counting my blessings and take this opportunity and do the best I can with it.'

"A lot of us went through the draft, a lot of guys didn't make it into the draft. I think it's kind of a slap in the face to the system. He hadn't done anything in the profession, and here he is trying to dictate what goes on without ever taking a snap."

He'll take one Sunday against a Chargers squad bent on revenge.

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