Man­ning­was in Carolina’s sights

The Colts’ GM­didn’t even con­sider the Pan­thers’ of­fer in 1998.

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Steve Reed

char­lotte, n. c. » If the Carolina Pan­thers had their way, maybe Pey­ton Man­ning would be play­ing for them— not against them— in the Su­per Bowl.

When Man­ning­was com­ing out for the 1998 draft, the Pan­thers ap­proached In­di­anapo­lis Colts gen­eral man­ager Bill Po­lian with a megadeal of­fer.

It in­cluded trad­ing fourth- year quar­ter­back Kerry Collins and mul­ti­ple draft picks, in­clud­ing their first- round se­lec­tion that year, for the right to take Man­ning with the No. 1 over­all se­lec­tion.

Carolina was hop­ing Po­lian, who had drafted Collins just three years be­fore while work­ing as the GM for the Pan­thers, would pull the trig­ger on the deal.

Thep­rob­lemwas that Po­lian­wouldn’t even con­sider the of­fer.

“Bill was dead set against it,” said Dom Ca­pers, Carolina’s head coach at the time who was also given con­trol of per­son­nel de­ci­sions when Po­lian left the team af­ter the 1997 sea­son.

“He was set on keep­ing the pick. You never knowon those kinds of things— but some­times you have to try.”

Po­lian said he had his heart set on draft­ing Man­ning.

“There wasn’t any­thing they could give us that was go­ing to re­place Pey­ton Man­ning,” Po­lian said.

Ca­pers, now the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor with the Green Bay Pack­ers, said he was “blown away” af­ter meet­ing Man­ning at the NFL scout­ing com­bine in In­di­anapo­lis in Fe­bru­ary 1998.

Man­ning walked into the in­ter­view with a yel­low notepad, sat down and started ask­ingCapers ques­tions.

“He left the room, and I sat there in amaze­ment,” Ca­pers said. “It was like he was in­ter­view­ing me for an hour. He was in­cred­i­bly pro­fes­sional, fo­cused, and you just knew right then he was go­ing to be a player.” Ap­par­ently, so did Po­lian. The Colts at the time al­ready had run­ning back Mar­shall Faulk, wide re­ceiver Marvin Har­ri­son and of­fen­sive tackle Tarik Glenn on the ros­ter, and Po­lian felt all they need­ed­was a quar­ter­back.

He liked Man­ning over Collins, whom he se­lected with the fifth over­all pick in 1995.

“We liked Kerry, but we didn’t feel like it was a fair re­turn,” Po­lian said. “We felt Pey­ton had so much po­ten­tial. Hon­estly, there was noth­ing any­body could have of­fered us that would have made us de­cide to move the pick.”

Said Ca­pers: “Bill knew what he had with the No. 1 pick in Pey­ton. We tried. We talked with Bill, but Bill just­wasn’t go­ing to do it. He thought Pey­ton was go­ing to be some­thing spe­cial — and he proved him right.”

Man­ning is ex­pected to be a first- bal­lot Hall of Famer.

Carolina Pan­thers fans, from left, D. M. Col­lier, Meghan Kelly and Zoe San­ti­ago cheer at the Pan­thers Pride Rally in Ro­mare Bear­den Park in Char­lotte, N. C., on Fri­day. Diedra Laird, The Char­lotte Ob­server

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