In 1998, the Colts had a huge decision to make with their number one overall pick. They could either take Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf at quarterback. Both seem to have the skills of an NFL quarterback. Ultimately, GM Bill Polian decided on Manning. That was the right choice.
Manning turned around the fortunes of the team almost immediately. In his second year, he led the Colts to a 13-3 record. He ended up winning four league MVP’s with the team and led the team to two Super Bowl appearances, including one win.
Leaf, on the other hand, did not have a good career. He was drafted second overall by the Chargers and was a complete disaster. He only lasted four years in the league, and eventually went to jail for a myriad of charges, including stealing pain killers.
Manning’s success with the team allowed a lot of infrastructure to occur in downtown Indianapolis. The Colts got a new stadium in 2008, built numerous new hotels, and made upgrades to the convention center. This all led to the city getting the 2012 Super Bowl.
That one single decision in 1998 launched the Colts into a new era of success they had never seen before. That led to the single best moment that Irsay has experienced since owning the team.