Manning happy to land in Big Apple

Eli Manning admitted he was going through the motions when he held up the Chargers jersey on stage at Madison Square Garden. Manning, of course, had no interest whatsoever in ever playing for San Diego, but didn't want to cause further controversy by upstaging Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Manning and his father, Archie, had come under fire for their openness in dismissing the Chargers, enough so that the packed house at the NFL Draft booed Manning lustily upon his introduction.

"I had mixed emotions," Manning said, obviously much happier with a Giants cap on his head. "I was excited about being the top pick; it's an honor. But it wasn't (where) I wanted to be drafted."

Not long after, Manning heard a little kid exclaim that the Giants had traded for him. He didn't know whether to believe it or not, but it sure sounded good. Manning and his agent knew that the Chargers were interested in Philip Rivers, so once the Giants selected him, Manning knew he had a chance to land in the Big Apple.

"Once they picked Rivers, it gave us some hope," said Manning's agent, Tom Condon. "We thought the odds were a lot better."

"I think things will work out here," Manning said.

Despite what Giants GM Ernie Accorsi said earlier, Manning and Co. knew of the possibilities of a Giants/Chargers swap well beforehand.

The confident Manning was very respectful of incumbent QB Kerry Collins, whose Giants career is likely coming to a close.

"Kerry Collins is the starting quarterback right now," he said. When asked if he could start this season, Manning said, "I think so. I'm going to prepare myself to play right away."

But Manning admitted it wouldn't be an easy task.

"It's a hard thing to jump right into it right away and be successful," he said.

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