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Ernie Accorsi takes you inside the Eli Manning deal

Posted Jul 21, 2016

2016 Ring of Honor inductee Ernie Accorsi reflects on his career with the Giants: 

Ernie Accorsi visited every stadium during his 37-year career in the NFL.

When he would look up at the various rings of honor, he saw the names of the best players to play the game and the greatest coaches to coach the game. There wasn’t a lot of real estate set aside for general managers.

That’s just one of the many layers that will make Nov. 14 so special at MetLife Stadium, where he is to be inducted into the Giants’ exclusive circle along with Tom Coughlin and Justin Tuck at halftime of a Monday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I never even dreamed that I would ever be up there, let alone with this franchise,” Accorsi said on “Big Blue Kickoff Live” on Giants.com. “I agree with Tuck and Coughlin when they said this is the best organization in sports. And I always tell the young guys that I worked with at the Giants, I say, ‘I’m fortunate that my last job was with this organization. If you guys don’t stay with them, you’re going to find out there is no other organization like this one.’

>> READ: 3 RING OF HONOR INDUCTEES

“It’s a great honor. I’m a pretty old guy and I grew up following sports starting in the ‘50s and saw this team the first time in 1952. So to be able to have my name up there with such great people like Frank Gifford and Charlie Conerly and Lawrence Taylor, it’s overwhelming to me.”

Accorsi, who was the Giants’ general manager from 1998-2006, will be the second G.M. in the Giants Ring of Honor, joining his mentor George Young.

“It’s extra special to be up there with George because when we first met -- he joined the Baltimore Colts in ’69 and I joined in 1970 -- we were both making $14,000 a year,” said Accorsi, who served as G.M. of the Cleveland Browns. “He was a scout, I was a P.R. Director, although we all scouted because we only had five people in the organization -- even the equipment manager scouted. But to have started with him and have been so close to him over the years and to be one of two general managers in this franchise’s history when both us got our starts with the Colts, it’s a wonderful moment.”

Coming full circle, Accorsi will receive the franchise’s highest honor with two men he brought in to help the team win a pair of Super Bowls. Accorsi was instrumental in the hiring of Coughlin in 2004, and a year later, he stole Tuck in the third round of the draft.

“That makes it even better,” Accorsi said. “There are so many parts to this that are just terrific, and that makes it even better. I exchanged texts with Tom Coughlin yesterday and I said to him, ‘Did you ever think, when we sat at the Newark Airport Marriott in 2004, that winter when John Mara and I interviewed [you], that it would come to this?’ I mean, you hope it’s going to come to this, but he hadn’t won a championship yet and I hadn’t, either. I had as a P.R. Director, but not as a general manager.

“And then Tuck was such a great pick for us because the only reason he was available when he was   available was because he was injured and he played hurt. He was a first-round player. To go in with them, it makes it even better.”

>> RING OF HONOR INTERACTIVE SITE

During the half-hour interview on Giants.com, Accorsi told more must-hear stories for every Giants fan. Below are some of the highlights. 

•  On when Coughlin first caught his eye…

“I saw one of his first games at Boston College when he almost beat Michigan. That’s the day I saw Tyrone Wheatley (the Giants eventually drafted the running back No. 17 overall in 1995), and Desmond Howard had to return a kickoff to beat them. And he didn’t really have an abundance of talent. I watched the job he did as a head coach there and, of course, he took Jacksonville to the brink of a championship awful fast. So I knew he could coach.”

•  On making one of the biggest moves in franchise history to acquire Eli Manning in a draft day trade and his now-famous scouting report of the two-time Super Bowl MVP…

>> READ ACCORSI'S SCOUTING REPORT OF ELI

“There were rumors that Eli was going to come out his junior year and I went down to see him against Auburn. He didn’t come out, but when I wrote that report that’s now gone viral, I essentially thought we could win a championship with this guy.

When he did come out, the fortunate thing for us is that we had that year in 2003 that put us in the fourth spot. If I wouldn’t have been in the fourth spot, we wouldn’t have gotten him. We would have had to go too far to get him. I would have been satisfied with [Ben] Roethlisberger. I felt very good about Roethlisberger and all our scouts did, Tom did, the Maras did, we felt real solid about Roethlisberger. They’re about as close as you can get as far as what they’ve done, but it was just something about Eli that he was the one I wanted but I didn’t really expect to get him at that point because it looked like they weren’t going to trade him. They were asking for Osi Umenyiora, which we were not going to give them. So that’s how the whole thing evolved because I just felt that with the quarterback, you have to reach for greatness if you have a chance.”

•  On learning what to look for in a quarterback and his definition of leadership…

“When I first came into the league, Johnny Unitas was the quarterback that I was involved with. So I was spoiled for life. And I also knew that as that team evolved from being world champions in the late ‘50s, the one that played the Giants in the sudden death game, to not quite as good a team -- although we won the Super Bowl in ’70 -- his supporting cast wasn’t as talented, but we always had him. What I learned is when you have a great quarterback, you always have a chance. And I always defined leadership as looking on the team bus on the road when you always have a few more butterflies than you do at home and seeing that guy and you know he’s on our side and he’s got a chance.”

For more information on the Ring of Honor inductees, visit Giants.com/RingOfHonor