Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning officially announced his retirement at a press conference on Monday. As expected, the announcement was a very emotional for Manning, who retired as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. After the press conference, it was revealed that Manning’s career might have taken a different path if he left college after his junior season because he would have been selected by Bill Parcells and the New York Jets. If Manning was selected by the Jets, what are the NFL sports betting odds that he would have won as many Super Bowls as he did?
For those unfamiliar with the story, in 1997, the New York Jets had the first overall pick in the NFL draft after going 1-15 during the regular season in Parcell’s first year in charge. Before the draft, Peyton Manning was considered the best quarterback to come out of college since John Elway in 1983 and was considered a can’t miss prospect.
At the time, Peyton’s father Archie had reached out to Parcells and was trying to get the Hall of Fame coach to commit to Peyton as the number 1 pick. Archie Manning told Parcells that Peyton was leaning towards returning to school, which was surprising because all indications at the time pointed to him leaving after his junior season. Archie Manning then told Parcells that Peyton would declare for the draft if Parcells promised to draft him with the top pick, which Parcells refused to do at the time because league rules prohibited teams from encouraging players from leaving college early.
Parcells watched a lot of tape and admitted on several occasions that he was a big Peyton Manning fan, but the Jets had previously signed Neil O’Donnell to a five-year contract the previous season. O’Donnell’s contract would have made it difficult to justify using their top pick on another quarterback especially after a 1-15 season.
Interestingly, Parcells could have told Archie Manning that he would make Peyton the number one pick in the draft during any of their conversations without anyone knowing, but he decided to follow the rules and didn’t promise the Mannings anything.
Without any guarantee that he would be the first pick in the draft, Peyton Manning announced that he was going to return to Tennessee for his senior year. The next year, he was selected number one overall by the Indianapolis Colts.
As expected, the Jets traded down from the top pick in the draft to address their defensive weaknesses, which helped turn the franchise around for the next few years.
Even though Manning went back to school for his senior season and the Jets moved on, the idea of Manning in a Jets uniform is very intriguing. If Manning had entered the draft and was selected number one overall, he would have made a significant impact on the team, because Parcells was able to lead the Jets to the AFC Championship game the following season with Vinny Testaverde as his starting quarterback.
If Parcells had Manning quarterbacking the 1998 Jets, they would have had a better chance of defeating John Elway’s Denver Broncos.
Another interesting thing that could have happened had Manning been drafted by the Jets is that it would have put Manning and Tom Brady in the same division for their entire careers. This would have allowed the two Hall of Famers to face each other at least twice a season, which would have been very interesting.
In the end, things worked out as they were meant to be, Manning flourished in Indianapolis and Denver. If Manning was drafted by the Jets, you also have to remember that other than his stint as the coach of the New York Giants, Parcells was kind of a nomad and never really spent a lot of time with a franchise. So chances are he would have bolted as soon as he won with the Jets.
On a separate note, if Manning was drafted by the Jets and Parcells quit when he did after the 1999 season. Would Bill Belichick have stayed on to coach Manning instead of also quitting and joining the Patriots?
After being released by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, Peyton Manning had another chance to join the Jets. Mike Tannenbaum, the General Manager of the Jets at the time, contacted Manning as soon as he became a free agent but Manning passed on his offer and decided to play for the Broncos.
The decision to join the Broncos definitely paid off as Manning was able to go to two Super Bowls in four years and eventually win his second ring.