How Close Were The Carolina Panthers To Drafting Peyton Manning?
CHARLOTTE, NC - Next April will mark thirteen years since Peyton Manning was headed into the NFL Draft. Thirteen isn't a lucky number, and the Carolina Panthers, if legend holds true, weren't so lucky back in 1998.
"Peyton wanted to be the first pick in the draft," Archie Manning said Wednesday in a radio interview with a Charlotte-based sports radio station, WFNZ-AM, 610 The Fan.
The elder Manning confirmed there were serious talks about the Carolina Panthers putting together a package and dealing up for the first pick to select Peyton.
Charlotte's location was ideal - Peyton grew up in the South, in New Orleans, and played college football only four hours away in Knoxville.
"I do remember there were a lot of rumors about Carolina trying to make a trade and get Peyton and get the # 1 pick," Archie said.
However, the Manning father made it clear, he wasn't as involved, as you might imagine. "I didn't have my nose in this as much as people think I did - (especially) in going on a few years later with Eli and San Diego."
Archie admitted there was a connection to Carolina. The Panthers head coach was Dom Capers. Previously, Capers was the defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints from 1986-1991; and according to Manning, "they used to let Peyton throw with them during the summers."
However, Indianapolis had the upper hand. The Colts had former New Orleans head coach Jim Mora, former Carolina Panthers General Manager Bill Polian and, above all, they had the first overall pick. In the end, according to his dad, "Peyton was fine going to the Indianapolis Colts."
Nonetheless, the question is begged: what were the Panthers offering the Colts in exchange for the right to draft Peyton? According to Archie, the Cats had QB Kerry Collins, a young cornerback who eventually played for the Colts (I suspect Tyrone Poole) and draft picks in the deal.
It could've been Carolina's lucky day on that day back in '98. Next April, "luck" could strike again, this time in the form of potential number one selection, (oddly enough) Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
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