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

Miles AustinMar 30 11:42a

Free-agent WR Miles Austin (Browns) will likely sign with the Philadelphia Eagles this week if all goes well with his physical, according to a source.

R. Griffin IIIMar 29 07:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will be the first-team quarterback during offseason workouts, according to head Jay Gruden, but Gruden also said he expects QB Kirk Cousins and [ More ]

Stevan RidleyMar 29 10:12a

Free-agent RB Stevan Ridley (knee) is scheduled to meet with a few teams this week. Ridley is expected to receive full medical clearance in around six weeks.

Andre EllingtonMar 27 07:52p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington, who averaged 20.6 touches per game in 2014 before being injured, won't have his role reduced in 2015, according to head coach Bruce Arians. [ More ]

C.J. AndersonMar 27 07:32p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, who finished 2014 with 648 rushing yards in the last six games, will enter the 2015 season at the top of the running back [ More ]

Jonathan MartinMar 27 04:32p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27.

Alan BallMar 27 03:02p

Free-agent CB Alan Ball (Jaguars) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jarrett BoykinMar 27 02:12p

Free-agent WR Jarrett Boykin (Packers) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nick FolesMar 27 01:22p

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said it's the team's intention to draft a quarterback in this year's draft, despite trading for QB Nick Foles in the offseason. [ More ]

Dont'a HightowerMar 26 08:02p

New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) will miss six to seven months after undergoing surgery on a torn right labrum. Hightower's availability for the beginning of the regular [ More ]

Brian QuickMar 26 06:52p

St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick (shoulder) is making progress in recovering from a torn rotator cuff and separated shoulder he suffered last October. Head coach Jeff Fisher has [ More ]

Jay CutlerMar 26 06:32p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will head into the offseason as the team's No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but head coach John Fox said there will be [ More ]

Danny LansanahMar 26 05:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah signed his one-year tender Thursday, March 26.

Jonathan MartinMar 26 04:52p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was waived Thursday, March 26.

Pat SimsMar 26 04:22p

Free-agent DT Pat Sims (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday, March 26.

Victor CruzMar 26 01:32p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) 'looks really good and light,' according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz started running last week six months after he tore the [ More ]

D. Heyward-BeyMar 26 11:52a

Free-agent WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Steelers) re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday, March 26. Heyward-Bey signed a one-year deal with the team, but financial terms were not disclosed.

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

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