- Peyton Manning turned out to be the good match for the Colts, however the NFL panorama may have been completely completely different.
Modified 31 Mar 2020, 18:30 IST
Heading into the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts had what was deemed to be a tough option to make.
Armed with the first total choose, new workforce president Bill Polian had two quarterbacks to select from: Peyton Manning – the son of a former NFL participant who starred at the University of Tennessee – or Ryan Leaf, the huge man with a powerful arm who had determined to depart Washington State a 12 months early to enter the league.
History, of course, tells us the Colts made the appropriate name.
Manning spent 14 seasons in Indianapolis, his massively profitable spell with the workforce together with main them to glory in Super Bowl XLI. His jersey quantity (18) was retired by the franchise, whereas there’s a statue of him at the workforce’s Lucas Oil Stadium.
The San Diego Chargers, in the meantime, claimed Leaf at two. Their marriage didn’t run so easily – or final too lengthy (three seasons, to be exact). He performed simply 25 video games in a profession that additionally included a cease in Dallas, throwing 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions, and is considered one of – if not the – greatest draft busts.
But what if Leaf had gone first instead? Let’s begin at the starting…
— NFL Draft (@NFLDraft) April 27, 2016
Having the first choose was the excellent constructing block for Polian, who was at all times going handy new head coach Jim Mora a rookie QB to work with.
Manning began from the outset with the Colts. There had been early teething issues and he completed his debut season with a 3-13 report, throwing extra interceptions (28) than touchdowns (26).
However, the probability to be taught on the job aided his improvement. The Colts went on to make the playoffs in the subsequent two seasons and whereas 2001 was not so profitable, a 6-10 marketing campaign led to the arrival of Tony Dungy as head coach and, effectively, the relaxation is historical past.
Whether Leaf would have developed in the similar circumstances must be thought of uncertain with how his profession panned out, however Indianapolis would have not less than afforded him time through which to show himself.
They additionally had two moderately helpful items to assist, as a working again by the identify of Marshall Faulk and a large receiver known as Marvin Harrison had been already on the roster.
Had Leaf nonetheless flamed out in an identical timeframe with the Colts – it must be identified he missed his second season in San Diego via damage – they could effectively have used the 2001 draft to discover a substitute. The Chargers did precisely that, utilizing the 32nd choose on Drew Brees.
Here is the place an alternate NFL timeline will get severely attention-grabbing.
Manning as a Charger could not have blossomed in time to maintain head coach Kevin Gilbride in a job – he was fired halfway via the 1998 season, his second at the helm – however he could effectively have been the key to maintaining the workforce in San Diego.
Owner Dean Spanos moved the Chargers to Los Angeles after an unsuccessful try to get a brand new stadium constructed. A failure to safe tax-payer funding led to relocation in 2017.
Surely, although, the presence of Manning may have made a distinction. On-field success – maybe even a Super Bowl triumph like the one the Colts loved – may have led to them getting the backing required to remain put.
Instead, L.A. is now dwelling, although they’ve to date struggled in competitors with the Rams to draw followers. There have even been rumours that the Chargers may transfer once more quickly, this time abroad to change into the NFL’s everlasting residents in London.
And what of Brees? Manning’s presence would have made selecting one other QB a waste of draft assets. In 2001, the workforce to subsequent take a participant at the place after the Chargers had been the Cowboys, which means Drew may effectively have gone on to change into a star in Dallas instead.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) October 18, 2016
THE 2004 DRAFT
Of course, there’s one other Manning whose profession would have modified if you’re taking a sliding doorways strategy to the ’98 draft.
After life with Leaf didn’t pan out, the Chargers had higher luck with Brees earlier than then shifting on to Philip Rivers.
However, they chose Peyton’s youthful brother Eli with the first choose in 2004, moderately than Rivers, regardless that the former Ole Miss quarterback by no means had any intention of enjoying for them.
Eli ended up in New York with the Giants in a commerce that noticed Rivers, who was drafted at 4, head in the wrong way. The subsequent QB taken that 12 months? Ben Roethlisberger, who went to the Pittsburgh Steelers at 11. The Buffalo Bills additionally used their first-round choose on the place, choosing J.P. Losman after shifting as much as 22.
Yet had Peyton’s place been in San Diego, a number of notable sign callers chosen early in 2004 may have ended up in numerous areas to start their professional careers.
Published 31 Mar 2020, 18:30 IST
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