In 1998, the course of the Indianapolis Colts franchise changed as they drafted Peyton Manning with the first overall pick. They weren't the only ones who liked Manning, however, and the Carolina Panthers in fact tried to trade up to get Manning.
Manning and the Broncos will face the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 next weekend, and if the Panthers had their way, Manning might have been starting for them in the Super Bowl rather than for the Broncos. The key would have been getting Bill Polian, the new Colts' general manager, to agree to a mega-deal with his former team and Panthers head coach Dom Capers.
"Bill was dead set against it," Capers said, according to the Associated Press. "He was set on keeping the pick. You never know on those kinds of things - but sometimes you have to try."
The deal reportedly would have involved the Panthers sending quarterback Kerry Collins and multiple draft picks (including their first round pick in 1998) for the rights to draft Manning, but Polian - who had drafted Collins in Carolina - wasn't willing to trade the pick.
"We liked Kerry, but we didn't feel like it was a fair return," Polian said. "We felt Peyton had so much potential. Honestly, there was nothing anybody could have offered us that would have made us decide to move the pick."
Of course, the move worked out incredibly well for Polian and the Colts. Manning spent 14 seasons in Indianapolis and led the team to an incredibly successful run, winning four MVP awards, two AFC titles, and a Super Bowl. Now, in his fourth year in Denver, Manning is looking for his second Super Bowl title - and it would come against the team that tried to move up to get him in 1998.
"If you took one of the top five offensive coordinators and put him under center that is what it would be like," Capers said. "He's so cerebral."
The Colts and the Panthers surely weren't the only two teams to really want Peyton Manning in 1998, but it's interesting to note that Carolina wanted to move up to get the quarterback by working out a deal with their former general manager. But Bill Polian wouldn't do it, and it's easy to see why nearly two decades later - Manning is one of the greatest to ever play the game, and he'll hopefully ride into the sunset with one last Super Bowl title on Sunday.