2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Manning still crossing paths with Chargers

By BERNIE WILSON - AP Sports Writer
    2012-10-14 12:23

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf?

It was the big question going into the 1998 draft and one that was quickly answered that fall.

Indianapolis made the right choice and Bobby Beathard and the San Diego Chargers were stuck with a colossal mistake.

Nearly 15 years later, Manning is still crossing paths with the Chargers. On Monday night, he'll bring his Denver Broncos (2-3) to Qualcomm Stadium to face the AFC West rival Chargers (3-2).

It'll be the first time the Chargers have faced Manning since he joined the Broncos in the offseason.

It turns out the Chargers have owned Manning, in a sense. The Chargers are 5-1 against Manning since 2005, when they ruined Indianapolis' shot at a perfect season. They also eliminated Manning and the Colts from the playoffs in consecutive seasons.

But they never owned him in the way that really would have mattered.

In the spring of 1998, the Chargers were looking to replace Stan Humphries, the only quarterback who ever got them to the Super Bowl. Humphries had been sidelined midway through the 1997 season with a concussion and then decided to retire.

Indianapolis had the No. 1 pick. San Diego had the third. Beathard sent a king's ransom of draft picks and players to Arizona to move up one spot. He said he tried to move into the top spot but Bill Polian, then the Colts' GM, didn't want to make the deal.

Beathard knew which of the two he would have taken, if given the chance to pick first.

``Absolutely Peyton Manning. Absolutely,'' Beathard said a few days ago while visiting San Diego.

``I even called Archie,'' Beathard said, referring to Manning's father. ``In fact, I called Bill Polian to try to make that trade and Bill said they weren't sure which one they were going to take, so he didn't want to do that.''

Beathard - the only GM to build a Super Bowl team in San Diego - can't remember what he offered Polian for the top pick, only that he wanted it.

He didn't get it. Indy got a quarterback that would eventually win one Super Bowl, get his team to another and has been chosen NFL MVP four times. San Diego got a quarterback who hurled obscenities and interceptions at an alarming rate before his career flamed out.

Beathard remembers coming back from a fact-finding trip to Pullman, Wash., aware of Leaf's talent - he had led Washington State to the Rose Bowl the previous season - but unaware of his combustible personality.

``The thing is about Peyton, we knew them. I knew Archie. It would have been a slam dunk,'' said Beathard, who retired in 2000 and now lives in Tennessee. ``Polian told me later, `I'm not sure which one is better.' There's no question Ryan was good in college. But all the off-field stuff, they were things that I know their coach didn't divulge and he stuck up for him when I went up there.

``It was a mistake we made that was hard to recover from. We would have taken Peyton, no question about it. It wasn't even a hard decision.''

Beathard has another regret. When Indy wouldn't give up the No. 1 pick, Beathard thought about trading down and grabbing another quarterback.

``I can't remember who, and I wish I had done it,'' Beathard said.

Beathard always loathed first-round draft picks, treating them as if they were nuclear waste. He often dealt them to stock up on lower-round picks and then take flyers on players from lesser-known schools. Some panned out. Many didn't.

In this case, though, the Chargers were stuck.

``The thing didn't come out well,'' Beathard said. ``We were scared to death we'd be stuck without a quarterback. We knew we had to get one of the two guys. We unanimously agreed on Peyton, but we couldn't make that trade up, so we thought we'd at least be fortunate to get one of them. But then all hell broke loose.''

The Chargers opened 2-0 in 1998 before Leaf's meltdown began, on and off the field. He had an abysmal performance in a loss at Kansas City. The next day, he berated a reporter in the locker room, unaware that a television cameraman was taping the entire exchange.

After the team's bye week, reports surfaced that Leaf acted obnoxiously while bar-hopping during a visit to Pullman to contribute $200,000 to his alma mater. His poor performance on the field led the Chargers to bench him, and he finished that season with 15 interceptions, two touchdowns and a 39.0 passer rating.

During his long career, Beathard had a hand in building seven Super Bowl teams in jobs ranging from scout to GM. One of his greatest successes was hiring Joe Gibbs as coach of the Washington Redskins in 1981. Together, they won two of the three Super Bowls they reached in the 1980s.

He wasn't as lucky in 1998.

``It was really bad,'' Beathard said. ``There were people in the league that thought we made the right choice, that we got the better of the two. In hindsight, it really made us or me look silly that we didn't know all that. But we didn't. I went up there, asked everybody if there were any problems and was told, `He's a great kid' and all that stuff. There were a lot of them up there that stuck up for him.''

Leaf missed the 1999 season after injuring his right shoulder during training camp and still managed to get into trouble. While rehabbing his shoulder that November, he was suspended for four weeks for cussing at Beathard and others in the organization.

Leaf got the heave-ho in February 2001 by then-GM John Butler. Recently, he's faced drug and burglary charges in Texas and Montana.

For Beathard, it's hard to forget.

For Manning, he doesn't want to remember recent losses to San Diego, although he did beat them his first three tries, including a showdown against Leaf as rookies in 1998.

``For me, I'm playing for the Broncos right now. This is my first time playing the Chargers under these circumstances,'' he said. ``There is some newness to this game and some unknown in terms of what they'll do. We have new things we're working on and developing at the same time. I think it's hard to draw comparisons to years past.''

The Chargers also will always be linked with Manning's younger brother, Eli. The Chargers took Eli Manning with the first pick overall in 2004 despite Archie Manning's request that they not do so, then swapped the player's rights to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers and additional picks.

Eli Manning has gone on to lead the Giants to two Super Bowl victories.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 17 08:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo's quick decision making and accuracy fit well with New England's playbook that includes quick-rhythm passes as part of the foundation, and Bucky Brooks [ More ]

Zach HockerMay 17 04:42p

The New Orleans Saints have signed free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Dolphins).

Joseph RandleMay 16 07:32p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has the skills to lead the team's backfield in 2015 but he'll need to work on his off-field issues, according to Jon Machota of [ More ]

Matt CasselMay 15 07:52p

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel is likely to enter Week 1 of the season as the team's backup quarterback, in the opinion of The Buffalo News' Vic Carucci. He [ More ]

Santana MossMay 15 07:12p

Free-agent WR Santana Moss (Redskins) is not ready to hang up his cleats and retire this offseason. 'I'm a free agent right now, you know how they do [ More ]

Robert TurbinMay 14 05:32p

Seattle Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason, according to sources. No timetable was disclosed for his recovery.

Tom BradyMay 14 03:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has officially appealed his four-game suspension.

Greg SalasMay 13 02:23p

Free-agent WR Greg Salas (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions Wednesday, May 13. Financial terms were not disclosed.

John ConnerMay 13 12:03p

Free-agent FB John Conner (Jets) signed with the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, May 13. FB Corey Knox was waived to make room for him.

Tom BradyMay 13 10:03a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension could be reduced significantly, and possibly overturned, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brady has put together a renowned legal team to appeal his suspension.

D.J. SwearingerMay 12 05:22p

Free-agent SS D.J. Swearinger was officially claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, May 12.

Fred JacksonMay 12 03:13p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson may not make the final roster if the Bills end up keeping only three running backs, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. RB LeSean [ More ]

Lance MooreMay 12 01:23p

Free-agent WR Lance Moore (Steelers) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

Justin BlackmonMay 12 11:02a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon was denied reinstatement by the NFL this offseason, according to The Associated Press' Mark Long. It's unclear whether Blackmon failed a drug test or [ More ]

Joseph RandleMay 12 10:42a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could see the bulk of the carries as the season weighs on, in the opinion of beat writer Todd Archer. Archer pegged Randle for [ More ]

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 11 09:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start while QB Tom Brady serves his suspension for 'DeflateGate'. Brady was suspended four games by the National Football League [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 11 07:12p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will appeal his four-game suspension, according to his agent.

Tom BradyMay 11 05:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has been suspended four games for his involvement in the deflated-football incident in the AFC Championship. In addition, the Patriots will lose their [ More ]

D.J. SwearingerMay 11 04:12p

Houston Texans SS D.J. Swearinger was officially released Monday, May 11.

Carey SpearMay 11 01:22p

Cleveland Browns PKs Travis Coons and Carey Spear will compete for the kicker job this offseason, and the competition is wide open at this point, according to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Garrett HartleyMay 11 01:12p

Cleveland Browns PK Garrett Hartley was released Monday, May 11.

Kyle ArringtonMay 11 10:32a

New England Patriots CB Kyle Arrington was released Monday, May 11, according to a source. The team left the door open for him to return.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group