Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers described the New York Giants' decision to bench veteran Eli Manning as "pathetic".
Giants head coach Ben McAdoo sparked outrage following his announcement on Tuesday that Manning's streak of 210 consecutive regular-season starts would come to an end ahead of Sunday's NFL clash against the Oakland Raiders.
Rivers and fellow QB Manning, 36, will forever be connected because of a trade on April 24, 2004.
The Los Angeles Chargers – based in San Diego at the time – selected Manning with the number one pick in the 2004 draft. The Giants then grabbed Rivers with the fourth pick.
Because Manning said he did not want to play in San Diego, the Chargers and the Giants struck a deal and swapped quarterbacks.
"I honestly thought it was pathetic," Rivers said on Wednesday when asked of Manning's demotion by McAdoo.
"He's been out there 210 straight games — with no telling how many bumps and bruises and injuries — for his team. He won two Super Bowl MVPs.
"And with the respect he's had in the locker room over the years, and really the respect he's gained throughout the league, you feel like the guy has earned the opportunity — if they are in fact deciding to go another direction — he's earned the opportunity to finish it off these last five weeks."
Rivers will extend his own consecutive streak of starts to 188 (197 with playoffs) against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The 35-year-old had a difficult time watching an emotional Manning speak about his benching.
"I just thought it was too bad the way it was handled," Rivers said. "And with Eli, we're not close buddies, but as a friend and fellow quarterback, it was tough to watch him yesterday. You can only imagine how he felt. And he handled it like a pro, like he's handled everything."