The Indianapolis Colts drafted Peyton Manning No. overall in the 1998 NFL Draft and former agent Leigh Steinberg says it was all because of Ryan Leaf.
In Steinberg’s new book he details how Leaf sabotaged his NFL draft status to avoid being drafted by the Colts because he preferred the climate of San Diego.
Rather then annoy Colts owner Jim Irsay, Steinberg writes in his book that he told Leaf stand up coach Jim Mora.
“‘If you go to the combine,’ I told Ryan, ‘but fail to show up for a meeting with Mora, that should do it. Jim is a real prideful person who has a tendency to explode. I am not recommending you do this, but if you are desperate to go to San Diego, this is the way,'” Steinberg wrote.
Steinberg then alleged that Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard was in on the act.
“Ryan approved, but I first cleared the idea with Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, lest San Diego also question my client’s reliability,” Steinberg wrote. “Beathard went along with the ruse. If he’d had a problem, Ryan would’ve shown up for his meeting with Mora.”
“Once Ryan was a no-show, Mora, as anticipated, went ballistic,” Steinberg wrote. “I defended my player, naturally, dismissing the coach’s response as another Mora meltdown. As I’d anticipated, Ryan was criticized, but the plan achieved its purpose. The Colts took Manning.
“Something tells me the folks in Indianapolis have never regretted that decision.”
Appearing on ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike‘ on Tuesday Beathard denied Steinberg’s claim saying the Chargers preferred to draft Peyton Manning.
Make your own opinions. Ryan Leaf had a largely disappointing NFL career and is still dealing with personal problems while Peyton Manning is headed towards his third Super Bowl.
Personally I recall very little chatter about anyone but Manning going first overall in the 1998 draft. The goal is to bring interest and sell books and Steinberg certainly has done that with this claim.