Ryan Leaf’s connection to the Manning family goes far beyond his status as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft after Peyton Manning was chosen first overall: Leaf says that when Eli Manning was drafted by the Chargers but refused to play for them, forcing a trade to the Giants, it was in part because of Leaf’s experience as a draft bust with the Chargers.
Leaf recently revealed that Archie Manning called his dad before the 2004 NFL draft and asked of the Chargers, “What did they do to help support your son?” When Leaf’s dad said the Chargers hadn’t done enough to help Leaf develop, Archie became convinced that San Diego was the wrong place for Eli.
“Archie and his family had called my father and wanted to know how they treated his son, and that was a huge part of it. Because even as poorly as I behaved, there was no support,” Leaf told Pat McAfee.
Leaf said his dad’s conversation with Archie wasn’t the only reason Eli spurned the Chargers, but it was part of a broader sense the Manning family had that the Chargers weren’t going to be the right place for Eli to land.
“The only leverage a rookie quarterback has in this day and age is to simply say, ‘I’m not gonna play,'” Leaf said.
That’s the leverage Eli used, and why he was traded to the Giants an hour after he was drafted.