SAN DIEGO -- The public address announcer let the fans here at Qualcomm Stadium know who was starting at quarterback for the New York Giants. And as Eli Manning jogged out onto the field for the game's first series, they let him have it.
Fans of the team for which Manning famously didn't want to play when it drafted him first overall in 2004 hadn't had a chance to boo him since early in the 2005 season. But they have not forgiven Manning for spurning them, and they booed him every time he came onto the field and every time he dropped back to pass.
Having lost the game 37-14, Manning was in no mood to discuss the San Diego fans' treatment of him.
"Fans have never affected my play," Manning said. "I just tried to go out there and play good football."
After drafting Manning first overall in 2004, the Chargers immediately traded him to the Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers (whom the Giants selected fourth overall as a condition of the trade) and several other picks. Among the newspaper front pages of franchise highlights hanging on the wall in the press box is one from the 2005 game in which the Chargers beat Manning and the Giants 45-23 here in 2005. Until Sunday, that was Manning's only career game in San Diego.
Sunday, fans chanted things at Eli that we cannot print here. They held up unflattering signs. And as the teams went in for halftime with the Chargers up 24-0, the fans chanted "We love Philip" in reference to Rivers, who'd thrown three touchdown passes in the first half.
"I think that's more for you all or the fans I guess," Rivers said of the Manning issue. "I felt like I was competing, and we were competing, against the Giants' defense. I know that's a sidebar story, but I've never felt like it's me vs. him."