Giants draft pick Eli Manning holds up his new jersey as...

Giants draft pick Eli Manning holds up his new jersey as he poses with coach Tom Coughlin, left, and general manager Ernie Accorsi on April 24, 2004, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: AP/Bill Kostroun

Wednesday marks the 20th anniversary of the Giants’ acquisition of Eli Manning from San Diego in a draft day trade that forever changed the franchise.

If you’re asking yourself “where did the time go?’’ — well, you have plenty of company.

That includes former Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who remembers watching Manning’s Pro Day in 2004 in New Orleans as if it were yesterday.

Former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi also was there, as were assorted other talent evaluators and scouts.

Coughlin recalled thatManning was running late, so his father, Archie, called him.

“That was a phenomenal day,” Coughlin, laughing, said in an interview with Newsday this past week. “Archie said if it was Peyton, he would have been there at 10:30 if the Pro Day started at noon. Archie had to call Eli. He said, ‘Eli, where are you?’ And Eli said, ‘I stopped to get something to eat, Dad.’ ”

Still incredulous to this day, the 77-year-old Coughlin, again laughing, said: “He stopped on his way to his Pro Day to get a sandwich.”

After being properly nourished, Manning wowed.

“It’s the best passing performance at a Pro Day that I’d ever seen,” Coughlin said of the quarterback out of Ole Miss. “He really lit it up, and this was with five [receivers] who he’d been throwing with, but he didn’t know them. He didn’t play with them. It was an amazing experience.”

Coughlin credited Accorsi for orchestrating the draft day trade for Manning, who said publicly that he would not play for the then-San Diego Chargers if they selected him. They picked him No. 1 overall anyway, but he soon was a Giant and Philip Rivers, whom the Giants selected fourth overall, was a Charger.

Coughlin recalled: “Ernie said, ‘When you have a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you have to go get him.’ And that’s exactly what he did.”

As the Giants’ starter from 2004 to 2019, Manning never missed a game because of injury. He started 210 consecutive games from 2004 to 2017, the third-longest consecutive-starts streak by an NFL quarterback.

“I think one thing people don’t realize is what it meant, what a magnificent feeling it was, to know as a coach that he was going to be there every Sunday,” Coughlin said. “Every Sunday, he lined up and played. He played with a separated shoulder, but he played. And it was important to him that he did. But from the standpoint of coaching, there was nothing he couldn’t do and nothing you couldn’t ask him to do. You could do whatever you wanted to do because he was going to grasp the concepts and he was going to do it to the best of his ability. And that was a tremendous [comfort] for all those years because he lined up and played.”

Manning, of course, also led the Giants to their two most recent Super Bowl championship seasons, in 2007 and 2011.

“He’s the greatest big-game quarterback I’ve ever been around or even watched,” Coughlin said. “You look at his eyes on game day and it’s like sending laser beams from his eyes. He was so into what he’s doing.”

Fast-forward 20 years later, and it’s another important draft for the Giants. They have the sixth pick in the first round, which begins Thursday night.

General manager Joe Schoen said Thursday that he is confident in Daniel Jones, who is coming back from an ACL tear and a second neck issue, both suffered during the season. In five years, Jones has missed 21 games because of injuries.

“Like I said before, the expectation is for him to be our starter,” Schoen said. “Again, I don’t have a crystal ball. I hope he doesn’t have any setbacks. He’s working his tail off. One of the things, when you go back and you watch the 2022 season or all of his throws in 2022, like he was a 25-year-old player that played at a high level, and we won 10 games and won a playoff game. I’m still confident in Daniel, the way he’s wired, what he showed us in 2022.”

Asked if he has any advice for the current Giants, Coughlin said he does not.

“I feel good,” he said. “I exercise. I’ve got 12 grandchildren, I chase them around. I watch them play [their sports]. Lots of great stuff watching the kids. I get lots of joy out of watching them.”

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