2015 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

LeSean McCoySep 2 01:43p

Updating an earlier report, Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) may not be in great 'football shape' once Week 1 rolls around, according to a source. He's not at [ More ]

LeSean McCoySep 2 12:43p

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) seems to be in some danger of missing the season opener Sept. 13. 'Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, [ More ]

EJ ManuelSep 2 11:33a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is expected to remain on the team as the backup quarterback. There is growing expectations that QB Matt Cassel will be cut.

Matt CasselSep 2 09:23a

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel could be cut by the team, as they are internally discussing the option.

Joseph RandleSep 2 08:33a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could have 10-15 carries per game with RB Darren McFadden slightly below that, in the opinion of beat writer Drew Davison

Travis CoonsSep 1 11:03p

Cleveland Browns PK Travis Coons edged out PK Carey Spear, winning the battle for the placekicking job. 'Yeah, it was close. I thought both guys handled themselves very well, [ More ]

Nick ToonSep 1 07:43p

New Orleans Saints WRs Nick Toon, Lance Lewis and R.J. Harris were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Randall CobbSep 1 06:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) thinks his sprained right shoulder will be good to go to play in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears in 12 days. [ More ]

James ButlerSep 1 05:53p

Green Bay Packers WR James Butler and TE Harold Spears were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Julius ThomasSep 1 05:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (finger) will undergo surgery on his injured finger Wednesday, Sept. 2, according to a source. Thomas is expected to miss four to five weeks.

Zac DysertSep 1 05:13p

Free-agent QB Zac Dysert (Broncos) was claimed by the Chicago Bears Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Tom BradySep 1 05:03p

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will know his fate by the end of this week. Judge Richard Berman said he will issue his decision and order by that time.

Matt BlanchardSep 1 04:53p

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Blanchard was released Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Juron CrinerSep 1 04:32p

New York Giants RB Akeem Hunt (hamstring) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Juron Criner and Derrick X. Johnson and TE Will Tye were also waived.

Robert HerronSep 1 04:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Robert Herron was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Phil TaylorSep 1 04:23p

Cleveland Browns DT Phil Taylor was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Junior HemingwaySep 1 04:12p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Michael HillSep 1 04:12p

Dallas Cowboys RB Michael Hill (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Antwan Goodley and David Porter and TE Brandon Barden were also waived.

Travis KelceSep 1 03:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) would be able to play if the Chiefs had a game Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to head coach Andy Reid. Kelce is recovering from an ankle sprain.

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 03:03p

Carolina Panthers WRs Jarrett Boykin and De'Andre Presley were waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jace AmaroSep 1 01:33p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) will have season-ending shoulder surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Erik LorigSep 1 12:33p

New Orleans Saints FB Erik Lorig was cut Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Nathan PalmerSep 1 11:53a

Denver Broncos WR Nathan Palmer was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Devonta FreemanSep 1 11:32a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman was the most active in practice Monday, Aug. 31, that he was been since a hamstring injury Aug. 6. It's unclear whether he'll play [ More ]

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 10:33a

Carolina Panthers WR Jarrett Boykin was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jalen SaundersSep 1 09:13a

New Orleans Saints WR Jalen Saunders is being traded to the New England Patriots Tuesday, Sept. 1, for a conditional draft pick, according to a league source.

Caleb SturgisAug 31 11:32p

Miami Dolphins PK Caleb Sturgis remains the front runner in his competition with PK Andrew Franks. Sturgis said he did not have a good early camp, 'but I've been hitting the ball better lately.'

K. ThompkinsAug 31 07:52p

Oakland Raiders WR Kenbrell Thompkins was released Monday, Aug. 31, according to a source.

Trent RichardsonAug 31 07:22p

Oakland Raiders RB Trent Richardson was released Monday, Aug. 31, according to a source.

Josh BoyceAug 31 06:42p

New England Patriots WR Josh Boyce and TE Jimmay Mundine were released Monday, Aug. 31.

E.J. GainesAug 31 05:52p

St. Louis Rams CB E.J. Gaines (foot) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Aug. 31. WR Damian Williams was subsequently released.

Travis KelceAug 31 05:32p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (leg) left practice early Monday, Aug. 31, because of a right leg injury. Kelce was able to walk off the field but did not return to practice.

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