The 1998 NFL Draft is quite a memorable one for NFL, as it produced not only one of the best players the league has ever seen in Peyton Manning, but it also produced one of the biggest busts in NFL history in Ryan Leaf.
Before the draft took place, many people were torn over who the Indianapolis Colts should take with the number one overall pick of the draft.
They were always going to take a quarterback, it was just a case of should they go for the stronger arm and more upside in Leaf? Or the more NFL ready and mature player in Manning?
In hindsight, you would think that the obvious player to pick for the Colts would've been Manning, so owner Jim Irsay made the right choice.
Luckily he didn't listen to famous journalist, author, and friend Hunter S. Thompson who apparently wrote a letter to Irsay a month before the draft attempting to sway him into taking Leaf over Manning.
Leaf revealed the contents of this letter on his Instagram account.
Thompson wrote in his letter to Irsay: “Dear James. In response to yr. addled request for a quick $30M loan to secure the services of the Manning kid — I have to say No, at this time
“But the Leaf boy is another matter. He looks strong & Manning doesn’t — or at least not strong enough to handle that ‘Welcome to the NFL’ business for two years without a world-class offensive line.
“How are you fixed at left OT for the next few years, James? Think about it. You don’t want a china doll back there when that freak Sapp comes crashing in.
“Okay. Let me know if you need some money for Leaf. I expect to be very rich when this depp movie comes out.
“Yr. faithful consultant, HUNTER”
In the end, the Colts selected Manning with the first overall pick, while Leaf was selected by the San Diego Chargers with the second overall pick, and the two went on to have quite different careers.
Manning went on to be a five-time MVP award winner, the most of any player in NFL history, and a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Leaf, on the other hand, was out of the NFL by 2002 and is considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.News Now - Sport News