Peyton Manning and the decision that shaped football
"The McGinn Files" continues with a look back at the Indianapolis Colts' decision to draft Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf. Our Bob McGinn chats with Bill Polian and personnel men from around the NFL.
The McGinn Files is a series looking back at selected players from NFL drafts since 1985. The foundation of the series is Bob McGinn’s transcripts of his annual pre-draft interviews with general managers, personnel directors and scouts over the last 38 years. This is the 37th installment of the series, which began in 2019 at The Athletic.
Quarterbacks don’t get much better than Peyton Manning. They also don’t get much worse than Ryan Leaf.
In two of the most momentous decisions in NFL draft history, the Indianapolis Colts selected Manning, of Tennessee, with the No. 1 pick in 1998 and the San Diego Chargers followed by choosing Leaf, of Washington State, with the No. 2 pick.
Manning arguably became one of the 10 best quarterbacks of all time whereas Leaf inarguably became one of the worst busts in the history of U.S. professional sports. Manning ended his career as a Hall of Fame inductee in his first year of eligibility; Leaf’s career came a cropper after four years and 25 games of mostly self-inflicted wounds.