Twenty-five years ago, the Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback Peyton Manning with the first overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft – a decision that changed the course of franchise history.
Their other option, quarterback Ryan Leaf, went second to the San Diego Chargers and became one of the biggest busts in draft history.
Ever since he flamed out after just four NFL seasons, Leaf has had to live with the ‘bust’ label. And in recent years, he’s not been afraid to own up to the mistakes he made.
However, some comments earlier this week by former Colts executive Bill Polian have Leaf going on the offensive.
He appeared Wednesday on NFL Network’s ‘Good Morning Football’ and called Polian’s criticism ‘revisionist history.’
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The Colts’ former personnel chief, Polian recently discussed the team’s 1998 draft deliberations on the 33rd Team podcast, noting how Leaf didn’t show up for a meeting with Colts officials at the NFL Scouting Combine and how another scheduled meeting at Leaf’s pro day didn’t go well.
On Tuesday, Leaf responded to Polian’s comments with a blistering Twitter post.
‘Well this is just a huge (expletive) lie,’ Leaf wrote. ‘Why Bill Polian continues to spew this (expletive) narrative is beyond me. Maybe he thinks it makes the story more compelling. Seems pretty compelling already, greatest QB ever, biggest bust ever. Doesn’t need ur (expletive) editorializing Bill!’
Leaf admitted on NFL Network that his wife ‘got mad’ at him for using curse words in his Twitter post. However, he said it was important for him to give his side of the story.
‘It’s been a long 25 years. For the longest time, I’ve buried myself with it. So much so that I ended up in a prison cell,’ Leaf said. ‘I’m clapping back a little more … If somebody’s going to lie about things, I’m just going to be like ‘Hey, you don’t need to do this.”
While Manning ended up leading the Colts to a pair of Super Bowls and one championship, Leaf struggled in his three NFL seasons and never played another down in the league after that.