Ernie Accorsi used to joke that the first line of his obituary someday would note he was the man who brought Eli Manning to the Giants, and he couldn't avoid that no matter how it worked out. Two Super Bowls later, that has turned out to be a good thing.
Dave Gettleman can only hope it'll be the same for him with Daniel Jones.
There's just no way to avoid it: Gettleman and Jones are now forever tied together. Their legacies and fate are in many ways the same. Right now, his decision to take Jones with the sixth overall pick in the draft feels like one of the most unpopular decisions by a Giants GM in decades. Whether that turns out to be an albatross or a badge of honor, the 68-year-old GM will wear it forever, all the same.
And Gettleman knew it, probably from the moment he took this job 16 months ago. He knew one of his most important tasks, as important as turning the Giants back into a winner, would be finding Manning's successor. He was there that day in 2004 as a "consigliere" of sorts when Accorsi put his legacy on the line by pulling off the biggest trade in Giants history, a deal that wasn't universally celebrated at the time, either.
Gettleman knew the risks. He knew the responsibility.
Back in February, not long after he first saw Jones in action, Gettleman called the opportunity to do what Accorsi did for the Giants "a dream".
"And I'm very serious about what I said," he said in February at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "I would love to drop a franchise quarterback in this place, and then watch him from Cape Cod and enjoy the hell out of it. OK? That's a gift. That's what I'd like to do for the New York Giants."
In time, it will seem to many like he did nothing else.
That's the way it was -- and is -- for Accorsi. The successful, final few years of his career at the very least were overshadowed by his so-called obsession with Manning, and everyone's memory that he could've kept all the assets he traded away that year and stayed put in the draft and picked Ben Roethlisberger instead. Manning's first 3 3/4 years in the NFL weren't great, of course. Late in the 2007 season, in fact, Accorsi said he went to Giants co-owner and apologized for what was happening with his hand-picked quarterback, telling him, "I'm sorry this is happening this way."
At that moment, the already-retired Accorsi was destined to be remembered as the fool who became obsessed with the wrong quarterback.
Less than three months later, Manning won the first of his two Super Bowls, and everything changed.
That's the way it will be with Gettleman. There was no sign that he was as obsessed with the 21-year-old Jones as Accorsi supposedly was with Manning. But if Jones struggles early, it will be impossible to forget Gettleman's drooling description of when he first saw Jones in action at the Senior Bowl in late January.
"I saw a professional quarterback," Gettleman said. "I was in full-bloom love."
Giants fans haven't exactly fallen "in full-bloom love" yet, even though multiple NFL sources keep reiterating that Jones is far more highly regarded by people inside the NFL than outside. Even those fans willing to accept Jones find it unforgivable that Gettleman took him at 6 instead of 17. Gettleman said he knows "for a fact" that two teams would have taken Jones before 17. Team sources said he was worried about the Broncos and Redskins. Multiple NFL sources told SNY there was "no way" Jones would have gotten to 17 had the Giants passed.
Who knows what would have really happened? But Gettleman "was not willing to risk it." So he passed on one of the top pass-rushers in the draft -- letting Kentucky's Josh Allen to slide to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tom Coughlin, of all people -- and took a leap of faith that might have been a leap too far. And he did it because, in his words, "I loved him on film. I absolutely loved him. I loved everything about him."
There has been no hesitation in Gettleman's voice. He's not giving an inch to those who want to see if he'll express from regret. He's defiant that he made the right choice to take Jones at 6. He's even more defiant that he made the right choice of quarterback, even though many others thought Dwayne Haskins should have been his guy.
Jones was Gettleman's guy, though, and he'll be "Gettleman's guy" forever. There will be forever reminders of this decision, too. Haskins was taken by the Redskins, so by 2020, those two will get measured head-to-head, twice a year for years.
Don't forget, the context of the Giants taking Jones has to include their decision to pass on Sam Darnold in last year's draft -- which Giants fans will be reminded of every time Darnold takes the field for the Jets.
If Gettleman was wrong, there'll be no escaping his mistake. He'll have set the franchise back 3-5 years, at least. He'll probably end up fired, or nudged into an early retirement. And stories about him will forever begin with a line like, "Gettleman, who made the disastrous decision to stick the Giants with Daniel Jones …"
That was the fate Accorsi was heading for back in 2007 too, until everything about his legacy changed.
The story of Jones, of course, is just beginning. No one knows how it's going to go or how it will eventually end. But with every twist and turn along the way of his career, no matter how long or short it is, Jones will be taking Gettleman's legacy along for the ride, too.
That's the real price of the controversial decision that Gettleman just made. He got his guy. And now he'll have him forever.