Smith does not regret taking Manning and trading him for Rivers. He has unwavering faith in Rivers.
“I believe with my heart and soul that he one day will lead the Chargers to a world championship,” Smith told Dennis Dillon of the Sporting News. “He’s a great quarterback—a phenomenal leader with great character, great work habits.”
Before the ’04 draft, Manning threatened to sit out the season and come back in the ’05 draft if the Chargers selected him. Smith, never the one to be intimidated t investigating and discovered that the Giants wanted Manning.
“He was a value pick,” Smith said of Manning. “He was a bar of gold.”
45 minutes after the Chargers picked Manning, the Giants took Rivers with the fourth overall pick. Smith then made the swap with the Giants: Manning for Rivers. In addition, the Chargers received a third-round pick in the ’04 draft, which they used to take kicker Nate Kaeding; a first-round pick in ’05, which they used to take linebacker Shawne Merriman; and a fifth-rounder in ’05, which they converted into a trade and acquired left tackle Roman Oben.
“He was a Charger for 45 minutes,” Smith said “and that was too much time to be a Charger, in my opinion.”