From 1998-2006, Ernie Accorsi oversaw a Giants team that reached Super Bowl XXXV, while also laying the framework for the Giants' Super Bowl XLII and XLVI titles.
And while Accorsi acquired key players like Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Antonio Pierce, and Plaxico Burress, the biggest move of his tenure as general manager is unquestionably his trade for Eli Manning during the 2004 NFL Draft.
As Manning officially retired from the NFL on Friday, Accorsi was there to celebrate the quarterback's illustrious career.
"First of all, I'm happy he's retiring a Giant. I'm happy he's going out the way he's going out," Accorsi told SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. "He expressed it better than I can. I feel great for him. I always said that I took a lot of heat for that trade and so did he, and it wasn't his fault. I put him in that situation and he had no control over it. I'm glad it worked out."
At the eleventh hour of draft day in 2004, Accorsi and San Diego Chargers GM AJ Smith struck a deal to send Manning to the Giants in exchange for Philip Rivers and other draft considerations.
With the clock ticking, Accorsi made Manning a Giant, and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I didn't think it was going to happen," Accorsi said. "I didn't know AJ Smith very well, we just didn't know each other. We only spoke three or four times, and he was supposed to call me Friday … and he didn't call. So, I was resigned to the fact that we weren't going to make the deal. And we were seven or eight minutes into our 15-minute allotment when he called, and he asked for Osi one more time and I said no one more time. Then he asked 'Would you trade next year's one?' and we had already discussed that we would, and then we made it. And we made it so late that we didn't have time to get it in by computer, which makes it official. We had to do it orally over the phone … He could have backed out of the trade …"
Manning started seven games as a rookie with the Giants in 2004, and he struggled during his first taste of NFL action. But by year two, Manning was a full-time starter, throwing for 3,762 yards and leading the Giants to a division title. That was the season that Accorsi knew Manning had the right stuff to lead the Giants for many years to come.
"His second year he won the division, and he made some big plays his second year," said Accorsi. "... I never wavered because I knew quarterbacks were going to have trouble the first year. … It didn't take him long. (His second season) had a pretty good year."
John Mara announced on Friday that Manning will enter the team's Ring of Honor next season, and now one of the only questions left to answer is will Manning end up in Canton, OH in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
"Well, I don't have a vote, but I obviously think he is (deserving of the Hall of Fame)," Accorsi said. "I've answered that question and my answer is that's subjective. It's going to depend on who votes for him. What's not subjective are the two (Lombardi) trophies, that's a fact."