Former prominent NFL agent Leigh Steinberg wrote in a book released Tuesday that he advised quarterback Ryan Leaf not to attend a meeting with the Indianapolis Colts, who would then select Peyton Manning instead with the top overall pick in the 1998.
Leaf, because he preferred the sun and lifestyle of San Diego, wanted to play for the Chargers.
Steinberg claims in "The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game" that he instructed Leaf to skip a meeting with coach Jim Mora at the Scouting Combine, knowing that he would be downgraded by the team for being unreliable.
Steinberg claims he passed the idea through Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, who endorsed the plan.
"Beathard went along with the ruse," Steinberg wrote. "If he'd had a problem, Ryan would've shown up for his meeting with Mora."
Beathard told ESPN Radio on Tuesday that the Chargers preferred Manning all along. Of course, the Colts took Manning and general manager Bill Polian said this week that he has never been swayed by an agent or player in making draft decisions.
"Once Ryan was a no-show, Mora, as anticipated, went ballistic," Steinberg wrote. "I defended my player, naturally, dismissing the coach's response as another Mora meltdown. As I'd anticipated, Ryan was criticized, but the plan achieved its purpose. The Colts took Manning.
"Something tells me the folks in Indianapolis have never regretted that decision."
Manning, 37, is playing in the Super Bowl next week with the Denver Broncos after a storied career with the Colts was cut short by a neck injury.
Leaf quickly flamed out in San Diego and is serving a five-year prison sentence in Montana on burglary and drug possession charges and probation violations stemming from charges in Texas in 2010.