Imagine Pedro Martinez joining the Yankees for the 2005 season. That’s about the closest analogy I could come up with when the Giants signed Kurt Warner.

At this time last year, the Giants were legitimate Super Bowl hopefuls. In hindsight, expectations were clearly too lofty for a team with a dinged-up offensive line and the worst special teams in the game. A dismal 4-4 start turned into a disaster as the wheels fell off and New York lost its final eight games.

Rather than give it another shot with a team that had made the playoffs only a year beforehand, the Giants decided to rebuild in 2004, mortgaging their entire future on the untested arm of Eli Manning, purely on the basis of his family genes. Fine with me.

The Giants also decided not to put too much pressure on the kid by bringing in a veteran, allowing Eli to hold a clipboard for a year. Also, OK by me. But really, why did it have to be Kurt Warner?

Kurt Warner is without a doubt my least favorite football player. In my all-time Hall of Fame of most disliked athletes, I would hang his picture somewhere between David Eckstein and Lleyton Hewitt.

I’ve never liked this guy, or his ugly wife with the short haircut for that matter. I didn’t like him when his first victory for the Rams brought tears to Dick Vermeil’s eyes. I didn’t like him after his most recent victory when he led a group of individuals out onto the field for Super Bowl XXVI, right before the Patriots were introduced as a team.

Really, it’s his effort to proselytize the world that kills me. Watching his interviews is like getting a root canal. He could tell you about the game, but he’d rather plug Jesus instead. Obviously, everyone is entitled to his own beliefs. But, I don’t need to be preached to when I’m trying to watch football, especially from my team’s quarterback.

Of course, winning would probably make up for some of my complaints, even if the post-game celebratory interviews would be a drag. In the unlikely event that Pedro finds himself tossing to Jorge Posada’s mitt next year (instead of at his head), at least the Yankees will have picked up an ace. The problem is that Warner has no chance for success.

He is permanently concussed. The Giants should know. Their defense did it to him, sacking him six times in week one last year. The results aren’t going to be pretty, especially with an offensive line with more holes than Yale Golf Course.

In the opener on Sunday, the Giants lost to the Eagles 31-17 in a game that was much more lopsided than the score. The defeat at the hands of the Eagles made it nine in a row for the G-men, which is coincidentally, exactly the number of consecutive starts lost by Warner.

Really, what were the Giants thinking? My best guess is that they were involved in a secret contest with the Knicks to see which New York team can have-an-absurdly-large-market-and-still-waste-all-their-resources-and-screw-up-every-staffing-decision-they-make more. (Apologies to Mets’ fans who might have watched Scott Kazmir outduel Pedro Martinez last night).

Consider that in addition to bringing in Warner, the Giants also hired disciplinarian Tom Coughlin as their new head coach. I’ll admit that a team that commits stupid penalties and frequently misses assignments probably needs someone to crack down, but Coughlin is causing problems already. Three players are contesting a fine imposed on them by the new coach for not being “early enough” to a meeting. As Coughlin continues to build team chemistry, remember that division rivals have Joe Gibbs, Andy Reid and Bill Parcells — three of the best coaches in football.

Maybe Warner’s debut wasn’t really all that bad. He was 16-for-28 for 203 yards against a team that has an excellent chance to go to the Super Bowl. He did miss a wide-open Ike Hilliard in the end zone on a critical play, but he did not throw an interception and I saw exactly zero crowd shots of his wife (though I was frequently channel surfing to watch the Yankees). The icing on the cake was that Manning got to tell Warner he’d been pulled, as the rookie made his debut at the end of the fourth quarter. I hope I get to see that more often.

In this era of big-time free agency in sports, the most popular athletes can be expected to skip town at any time. Maybe as a corollary to this rule, it should be remembered that the least popular players are roaming around as well. With all the turnover, real fans have to maintain loyalty to their team’s uniforms, regardless of who resides inside them.

I guess I’ll have to do the same with the Giants this year, unless Manning can get in there sooner.