Would Eli have been better off in San Diego?

<b>Paul Schwartz:</b> It sure is easy to look at the record of the Chargers, look at the record of the Giants and proclaim that Manning should have kept his mouth shut and agreed to play for the Chargers.

After all, that was the team that selected him with the very first pick in the NFL Draft, the team that wanted him to lead them out of the darkness of losing. If it's an easy argument, it has Kenny written all over it. I'll inject some perspective here. Yeah, for this particular season, Manning likely would have been better off in San Diego but his career is going to span a whole lot of seasons, a whole lot of years. Let me ask you this? When studying recent history and long-range forecasts, which franchise has enjoyed greater success, the Giants or the Chargers? For investment purposes, better to go with the proven long-term growth.

Ken Palmer: Unfortunately for Manning, one of the Giants' long-term troubles has been the offensive line. Unless he gets to play behind the Suburbanites from the '80s, he's probably going be running for his life for most of his career. It's not crazy to think the Giants won't get this O-line thing fixed for quite some time. It's been four years since they were even average, let alone good. And that took the organization spending almost all of its offseason cap money on free agents - a definite short-term fix to a problem that still lingers. Say what you will about how good Chris Snee is going to be - and he's going to be very good - but beyond that, who could Eli possibly be excited about playing behind? There's no such thing as a great QB playing behind a lousy line. Poor Eli is going to try to become the first.

PS: It's not a stretch to consider that if Manning had played for the Chargers he wouldn't even be on the field. It's unlikely Manning as a rookie would have beaten out Drew Brees for the starting job, and given the way Brees has defied expectations - other than Peyton Manning, he's the MVP of the AFC - Manning would have been chained to the bench for the entire season. With the Giants, Manning bided his time until Kurt Warner faltered, a process that took only nine games. It may have seemed like a long wait but in reality it will amount to a blip on Manning's career radar screen.

KP: Manning would probably prefer to be sitting after all the abuse he's taken since grabbing the starting reins. Not only would he have more time to get situated and develop, he'd be able to do it out of the limelight. The San Diego fans and media are certainly more patient and forgiving than their New York counterparts. Here, every time Eli wipes his nose it's reported; if he were on the West Coast, he'd certainly be able to go about his business in much more anonymity. He'd still be the talk, but he certainly wouldn't be getting skewered for his sub-par early play the way he has in the Big Apple.

PS: Losing and looking ugly is no barometer for how a rookie quarterback will fare later in his NFL life. Peyton Manning was terrible early. The same with John Elway. Ask any true-blue Giants fan how they felt about Phil Simms the first few years. If Manning possessed a different temperament, if he were high-strung and thin-skinned, New York wouldn't be the right place for him. If that were the case, ship him to San Diego. Manning, though, has shown no signs of remotely cracking during his struggles with the Giants. He's so calm you need to check his pulse to make sure he's still ticking. He can handle the heat, mainly because he seems as if he's oblivious to it. If he fails, it won't be because he can't handle his surroundings.

KP: There's no doubt he can handle New York. Heck, Paul, even you somehow found a niche here. But like I questioned earlier can he handle playing behind a porous offensive line for a decade? Can he even hold up physically if he continues to get battered and bruised by defenders like he has? Several Redskins talked after the game about how dazed and confused he looked after he got hit hard a couple times. The great quarterbacks started slow, yes that's true. But as they developed, so did their offensive line; they all grew together. What gives you any indication the Giants will provide Manning a line capable of allowing him to become a star? The drafting of a few more sixth-rounders? The Chargers aren't exactly boasting the Hogs out there, but they've obviously been able to put together a line that's allowed Brees to play as lights as he has.

PS: Look, this is the big city and every quarterback worth his marquee status wants to shine amid the brightest lights of the biggest city. Dan Fouts was a great quarterback in San Diego, better than Joe Namath, but it's Namath who is known as the star, and not only because he made good on a Super Bowl guarantee. Namath did it in New York. As great as big brother Peyton has been, it's taken him this long to really crank up his national profile. Why? Because he's toiled in Indianapolis, which is not considered a great metropolitan city. Put Peyton Manning in New York and he'd have a sandwich at the Carnegie Deli named after him. If that famous eatery named a sandwich after Kenny Palmer it would be called the Big Mouth and it would be filled with tongue. With a sour pickle on the side, of course.

KP: Don't they have a quiche named after you, Paul? You know what they say about real men and quiche? Just like you know what they say about New York - if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Well, of course, the thought is that Manning will eventually become the star everyone figures, although it's been a little alarming exactly how bad he's been at times in the early going. But the prospect surely does exist that Manning will fall short of expectations, at which point he'd kill to be in San Diego. New York makes stars, but it also chews up and spits out many more that can't get it done. Now it's Eli's turn. Hopefully, unlike Paul when he agreed to these weekly debates, Manning didn't bite off more than he can chew.

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