Peyton Manning Declares Early: 1997 Season

NFL Draft

The burning question in both college football and the NFL was whether Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning would declare early for the NFL Draft.  After much media hype, Manning decided to take the bold plunge to go professional in 1997.

Manning’s decision made the beginning of the 1997 NFL Draft rock solid: the New York Jets would take Manning, uniting one of the highest regarded quarterback prospects in years with one of the highest regarded NFL coaches in history in Bill Parcells.  While the Jets made the first pick boring on draft day, excitement came on the rest of the first round with multiple big trades.  No one was more aggressive than the Seattle Seahawks, who were able to attain both the 2nd and 3rd overall picks, securing the talents of two Ohio State greats in Orlando Pace and Shawn Springs.  Seattle got the big party started, but it continued well on into the first round: the Raiders traded up for Darrell Russell, and the Steelers traded up for James Farrior.

Regular Season

3 Jets 10 6 3 Giants 11 5
6 Patriots 9 7 Redskins 8 8
Dolphins 9 7 Eagles 7 9
Bills 6 10 Cowboys 6 10
Colts 3 13 Cardinals 4 12
2 Steelers 11 5 2 Packers 13 3
5 Jaguars 11 5 4 Buccaneers 10 6
Oilers 8 8 5 Lions 9 7
Bengals 7 9 6 Vikings 9 7
Ravens 6 10 Bears 4 12
1 Chiefs 13 3 1 49ers 13 3
4 Broncos 12 4 Panthers 7 9
Seahawks 8 8 Falcons 7 9
Raiders 4 12 Saints 6 10
Chargers 4 12 Rams 5 11


Wild Card

  • Vikings 23, Giants 22
  • Broncos 42, Jaguars 17
  • Jets 17, Patriots 14
  • Buccaneers 20, Lions 10


  • Jets 13, Steelers 7
  • 49ers 38, Vikings 22
  • Packers 21, Buccaneers 7
  • Broncos 14, Chiefs 10

Upsets ruled this weekend in the AFC.  Despite having regular struggles at Arrowhead Stadium, the Broncos took down the Chiefs, and a patient showing by rookie Peyton Manning paid off against the Steelers’ usually strong defense, with a touchdown late in the game to Keyshawn Johnson sealing the road win for the Jets.

Conference Championships

  • Broncos 41, Jets 10
  • Packers 23, 49ers 10

The steady performance Peyton Manning showed in earlier playoff games was wrecked by the Denver defense, as they intercepting Manning twice and also forced out of him two lost fumbles.  Terrell Davis was the beneficiary of most of those turnovers, as he found the end zone three times in a dominant Broncos win that forced some observers to reconsider just how much of an underdog they should be against the NFC powers.

Super Bowl XXXII

  • Broncos 31, Packers 24

Introducing An Alternate History: Peyton Manning Declares In 1997

Today, we know Peyton Manning as the player who was key in four years of Broncos excellence, culminating in a Super Bowl victory, as well as two AFC Championships and four 12+ win seasons.  We also know that he served 14 years of excellence beforehand in Indianapolis, also leading the Colts to a Super Bowl and two AFC Championships, as well as only suffering two non-playoff seasons when he was able to play the entire season.

This illustrious career ended last February, and started in 1998, after he had finished a full college career at the University of Tennessee.  But in 1997, he faced a difficult decision, one in which he could have left the Volunteers to enter the NFL Draft early.  As you know, he declined that opportunity.  But if he didn’t, the face of NFL history could have been greatly changed.

Therefore, to help pass away the boring month of June by NFL standards, I will be contributing a work of fiction (in the style of alternate history) that poses a simple question with a complex answer: what if Peyton Manning had declared for the 1997 NFL Draft?

Continue reading Introducing An Alternate History: Peyton Manning Declares In 1997

The Legacy of Mike Shanahan

One of the “hot” topics last week amid a lack of substantial NFL news was a long piece by ESPN’s new site The Undefeated analyzing Robert Griffin III’s failures in Washington, DC.  Included in the article are multiple quotes by Mike Shanahan stating that he felt the decision to trade up to get Griffin was a mistake, and made it clear that he did not have a good relationship with Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Upon reading that article, the first thought that crossed my mind was something along the lines of “Damn you Snyder for wrecking Shanny’s chance at the Hall of Fame”.  Since then, I’ve given that sudden emotion a bit of more tempered thought, and I’ll dump those thoughts here in an rough article that I welcome any improvements upon.  The goal here is to figure out just how well NFL history should treat Shanahan. Continue reading The Legacy of Mike Shanahan