TOFN podcast: Polian -- 20 years later, the truth about Manning-Leaf


(EDITOR'S NOTE: To listen to this podcast, just connect to the following link:

It was 20 years ago this week that the Indianapolis Colts and then-San Diego Chargers made decisions that would send them in opposite directions and change the face of the NFL.

On April 18, 1998, the Colts chose quarterback Peyton Manning with the first pick of the draft, and the Chargers chose Ryan Leaf with the second. Manning would go on to a Hall-of-Fame career that included four Super Bowl appearances and too many NFL passing records to count, while Leaf would prove to be one of the worst choices in NFL draft history.

So, 20 years later, the decision looks like a no-brainer.

Except it wasn't ... and a guy in the middle of everything knows it. That would be former Indianapolis GM Bill Polian, a Hall-of-Famer himself, who joined this week's Talk of Fame Network podcast to set the record straight on Manning vs. Leaf.

"There are a lot of people now who have amnesia," Polian said. "It was a much tougher choice than people now believe.

When Polian first polled his own scouts, for instance, they were split 50-50.

"Those that liked Manning were not terribly anti-Leaf," he said. "Those who liked Leaf, for some reason, were vociferously anti-Manning."

So, they were told to review video of each and every pass Manning and Leaf threw in their collegiate careers. When they were finished, they were polled again ... and the verdict was still not unanimous.

"We came away with a positive feeling for Peyton Manning," said Polian, "and a reasonably positive feeling for Ryan Leaf. So, when we hit right around March 1, I would say Manning was in the lead ... but not by much."

Six weeks later, he was. So what clinched the Colts' decision? Listen to this week's Talk of Fame Network podcast to find out. You can access it just by connecting to the following link: