The 75th NFL Draft takes place this Thursday night and while the annual opportunity to make fun of overzealous Jets fans is obvious sportsblog gold, it also gives us a once-a-year chance to review the most foolish selections of all time. And with all due respect to Jeff Lageman, JaMarcus Russell and Tony Mandarich, San Diego QB Ryan Leaf is arguably the biggest draft bust in history. Surprisingly, Leaf concurs with being awarded such status, telling the LA TImes’ T.J. Simers, “I was a phony person for so long, it’s so freeing now to tell the truth.”
“If I’m going to be the biggest bust, I have to own up to it,” Leaf says. “I used to go to bed at night hoping somebody else like Heath Shuler might magically leapfrog me on those all-time bust lists.
“It never happened. Why? Because I am No. 1. I can’t even think of anyone else in the ballpark that might be close to my combination of disappointment and failed expectations.”
“I dodged a bullet,” he says. “A strong case can be made that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback since Unitas. It’s bad enough as it is, but just imagine if I had been picked ahead of Peyton.”
“It was total self-destruction. My mom has old tapes. I listened to one recently and cringed. That kid was a punk. That’s my fault for leaving college early and not having someone around me to help. And if I did, as stubborn and bullheaded as I was, I probably would not have listened. I was 22, but I was 16 probably as far as maturity goes.”