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Article:The Ryan Leaf Fiasco: 10 Years Later

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Leafmops

The year 1998. It's the NFL draft and the greased hair assassin and the gang are already to make their last minute projections, get burned on national television and then say its the teams fault. The draft this year featured 2 franchise quarterbacks, Washington State's Ryan Leaf and Tennessee's Peyton Manning. Manning was the projected top pick, but Kiper said Leaf had a mental advantage over Manning. The Indianapolis Colts had the first pick, as Kiper predicted back in 1994 (how dare they pass up Trent Dilfer), The Arizona Cardinals had the second pick but the San Diego Chargers traded two first-round picks, a second-round pick, reserve linebacker Patrick Sapp and four-time Pro Bowler Eric Metcalf [1] just to move up one spot to #2 to ensure they got in on one of these "once in a lifetime QBs".

Peyton went first, to no one's surprise, and the Chargers snatched Leaf. Following the draft, the Chargers signed Leaf to a four-year contract worth 31.25 million, including a guaranteed $11.25 million signing bonus. It was, at the time, the largest signing bonus ever paid to a rookie. Shortly after being drafted, Leaf declared, "I'm looking forward to a 15 year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Deigo.....

So now the Aftermath

  • Peyton over his 10 year career would go on to win 1.5 MVPs, a Superbowl, on pace to shatter every passing record in the game and has appeared in 2948 commercials
  • Leaf over his 5 year career (15 years....how ironic) has been regarded as the biggest bust in NFL draft history, was featured in a Simpsons episode, is the quarterbacks coach and head men's golf coach for Texas A&M University...err I mean West Texas A&M University and has a movie on his horrible career coming out.
  • Mel Kiper's "credibility" survived the hit and would go on to declare Cincinnati Bengals' Akili Smith as the best passer they have since Boomer Esiason in 1995 (turned out to be biggest bust since Leaf), The Patriots would go 0-16 in 2001 (they would win a Super Bowl that year) but not to worry the "do" is still good
  • The Colts would land another top 5 pick the following year, Edgerrin James from the U, they would win 13 games that season and has since become a perennial playoff contender.
  • The Chargers would go on to have 5 consecutive sub .500 seasons, notably their drafting strategies changed trading their #1 pick in 2001 to the Atlanta Falcons for 2 first rounders and a 2nd rounder the next year, those picks would become Former NFL MVP Ladainian Tomlinson, QB Drew Brees and Kick Returner Tim Dwight. They would land another #1 pick in 2004, drafting Eli Manning and trading him to the New York Giants for Phillip Rivers. Eli would win a Super Bowl three years later but hey can't win them all.
  • The Cardinals, who dodged the bullet that was Ryan Leaf have failed to become relevant still...


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