One of the biggest quarterback decisions to ever take place in the NFL Draft came back in 1998. The San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts were debating between selecting Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf, with the Colts ultimately selecting Manning with the top pick.
We know how the rest played out.
Now, Leigh Steinberg, who was Leaf’s agent, released a book that states Leaf manipulated the Colts in order to slide to the No. 2 pick. Leaf reportedly wanted to play in San Diego rather than Indianapolis, so he skipped on a meeting with the Colts and informed the Chargers that he was going to do so.
During an appearance on Mike and Mike in the Morning, former Colts general manager Bill Polian said that Steinberg’s claim simply is not true.
Polian said that there are a number of reasons the Colts chose Manning over Leaf, but being manipulated was not one of them.
“Agents cannot manipulate anything in the draft,” Polian said as transcribed by Pro Football Talk. “Leigh and other agents for years and years have told kids that they can get players drafted by a certain club at a certain spot, and nothing could be further from the truth. That assumes that we on the club side are idiots, that we’re able to be manipulated, that we don’t do our homework, that we don’t watch the tape, that we don’t go all the way back to the junior high school coach and high school principal, teachers, doing our due diligence.
“It’s just the kind of hubris that existed among agents years ago where they told kids flat-out, ‘I can get you taken here, I can get you taken there.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.
“I remember Leigh telling the press that we had blown it because we hadn’t given him the right time. I knew that was false because I made the call. I’m glad after 16 years he’s finally told the truth.”
Of course, we will never know the complete truth about how the decision was made, but it is certainly an interesting twist to the story that we continue to discuss 16 years later.