The 2021 NFL Draft is less than one week away and Indianapolis Colts fans are freaking out because they have zero idea as to what the team is planning to do with its first-round pick.
To alleviate some of that apprehension, why don’t we turn back the clock and celebrate the anniversary of one of the most entertaining moments in draft history?
We’re talking about the famous feud between ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who was a fairly unknown commodity at the time, and then-Colts general manager Bill Tobin.
As fans will recall, the drama centered around what Indy should do with its two first-round selections (No. 2 and No. 7 overall). After they traded quarterback Jeff George to Atlanta, which is how they acquired the second first-rounder, Kiper was adamant that they should draft a QB.
The No. 2 overall pick was used on Marshall Faulk, which Kiper wasn’t entirely fond of, but he ultimately recognized the running back’s talent and let it go. Then, however, Colts traded up to the fifth pick, seemingly to draft Fresno State signal caller Trent Dilfer.
Tobin, meanwhile, had other plans and selected Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts. As you might have expected, this triggered a violent response from Kiper Jr. Responding to his criticism, however, Tobin unleashed one of the greatest comments ever heard on live television.
Revisiting when former Colts general manager Bill Tobin owned ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr on live television in 1994.
Here’s what Kiper had to say about the pick:
"“I think it’s a typical Colt move. I mean, here’s a team that needed a franchise quarterback. To pass up a Trent Dilfer when all you have is Jim Harbaugh. Give me a break. That’s why the Colts are picking second every year in the draft, not battling for the Super Bowl like other clubs in the National Football League.”"
In Kiper’s defense, his criticism actually proved to be spot on, as Alberts only lasted three years in the league. During that span, he appeared in 29 games (just seven starts) and tallied 69 combined tackles, one interception and three forced fumbles.
The former Cornhusker was the embodiment of a bust, but that didn’t stop the Colts general manager, who was obviously unaware of Alberts’ future at the time, from absolutely laying into Kiper during his post-draft interview with ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen.
"“Who in the hell is Mel Kiper anyway?” Tobin asked. “Here’s a guy that criticizes everybody, whoever they take. He’s got the answers to who you should take and who you shouldn’t take. And my knowledge of him: he’s never ever put on a jock strap, he’s never been a coach, he’s never been a scout, he’s been an administrator and all of a sudden he’s an expert.”"
This was a legendary moment in NFL Draft history and Colts fans can proudly say their team’s general manager played a pivotal role in it. It might not have been a great look for the franchise at the time, but the fact that it’s remembered so fondly now is a huge relief.
Still, however, the Colts and their fan base will be hoping current GM Chris Ballard sticks to his strengths and makes it through this year’s draft without eviscerating Kiper or any analyst who might second-guess one of his selections.