Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Peyton Manning a Jet? Could've happened
By Tim Graham
Imagine what would've happened if Peyton Manning had turned pro after his junior season at Tennessee.
The decision not only changed the Volunteers' fortunes, but altered the trajectories of two teams.
Had he turned pro in 1997, he might've been a New York Jet and certainly wouldn't have been an Indianapolis Colt.
The Jets owned the No. 1 pick in 1997. The Colts selected Manning first overall in 1998.
New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro looked back on the turn of events:
Manning would stay for one more somewhat disappointing season at Tennessee, and he would actually see his stock drop ever so slightly, going from a clear-cut No. 1 to a hard-to-believe-it-now coin-flip debate involving Ryan Leaf. The Colts have a Super Bowl already in tow and are favorites for another, thanks solely to Manning growing into perhaps the greatest quarterback the game has ever known.There are no guarantees Jets general manager Bill Parcells would have selected Manning ahead of Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace. When given a choice between Jake Long and Matt Ryan for the Miami Dolphins in 2008, Parcells went with the franchise left tackle. Vaccaro also points out the Jets had Neil O'Donnell, who was a year removed from the Super Bowl.
But Phil Simms was enamored with the idea.
"That would have been a match made in heaven because you're talking about two guys who see the game exactly the same way," Simms said of a Parcells-Manning partnership.
It's a fanciful thought to picture Manning in green.
How many Super Bowls would the Jets have won?
Would there be such a thing as a New England Patriots dynasty if Manning was in the AFC East?