Ryan Leaf was so intent on being drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1998 instead of the Indianapolis Colts that he went along with a plan to miss a meeting with then Colts head coach Jim Mora to ensure the team did not select him No. 1 overall.
Leaf and Peyton Manning were viewed as the two top players in the draft and everyone knew they were going 1-2. The only question was who would Indy take first, because San Diego traded up from the third spot to the second because they wanted one of the two QBs.
“I think the consensus of opinion is that two guys like (Manning and Leaf) don’t come along very often,” Charger General Manager Bobby Beathard said in 1998. “If we’re going to be successful in getting that type of quarterback, we’re going to have to give up something, and we really did.”
Beathard said the Chargers have no preference on whether they get Manning or Leaf.
“Each one has the ingredients to be a top-level quarterback in this league,” he said.
The Chargers were happy to have either guy, so it just came down to whether Indy would choose Manning or Leaf. But Leaf did not want to go to Indy because he preferred the weather and laid-back style in San Diego, according to his agent. So he decided to sabotage his chances of being picked by the Colts.
In his new book, former superagent Leigh Steinberg says he suggested to Leaf that he miss his meeting with Mora. Steinberg knew Mora would go nuts about Leaf missing the meeting and wouldn’t want to take him.