Ryan Leaf was … 20 years ago?

I once went to an event where a Denver Broncos player was coming back to his hometown.

He didn’t have much of a career, and until I looked it up, I forgotten his name (David Gamble), but he was on the Super Bowl winners and that was cool, even though I’ve never liked the Broncos, Orange Force One aside.

When I had a chance to say hello to him, I had one request … go easy on Ryan Leaf.

It was 1998, the year of the Peyton Manning-Ryan Leaf draft. Sure, Manning was going to go first overall to the Colts, but that was OK.

I never thought much of Manning (and as far as I’m concerned, the only good thing his brother ever did was beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl), so I was happy my Chargers were going to be able to take Leaf with the second pick.

Gamble laughed at my request, and said the defensive backs on the Broncos were already counting on picking up some interceptions.

Yeah … that one didn’t go so well for the Chargers. In a related note, offers to be an NFL general manager have been shockingly slow to come my way.

And as it turns out, being a bust wasn’t even the worst part, since his post-football life included addiction and jail time. (Read about it here in his Players’ Tribune piece.)

It’s good to see that Leaf appears to have turned his life around. And it’s hard to believe I was convinced 20 years ago he would be the Chargers’ savior — not because it was a horrible idea at the time, but that it has been two whole decades since then.

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