FORMER CHARGERS QB
Leaf, who wasdrafted No. 2 in 1998 behind Peyton Manning, retired from football in 2002. Heis a football and golf coach at West Texas A&M.
Dan Patrick: IfPeyton Manning weren't so successful, would it have been easier for you interms of how you've been viewed and labeled?
Ryan Leaf: Thelabel probably wouldn't be as dramatic, but he's always been very successful.More power to him, he's a great guy. And it doesn't diminish what I'm trying toaccomplish. Peyton and I, we're always going to be linked. It's ironic: I hadsome of my storage stuff from Montana shipped down to Texas, and I ran across—Iforgot I even had it—an Indianapolis Colts jersey, number 16, with LEAF on theback, that I think they had ready for draft day. I'm thinking about auctioningit off for charity. There's no reason for me to keep it. [Laughs.]
DP: How did youget the jersey?
RL: I don't know.It was either [at the draft] or a football card shoot that we did, and we hadto dress up in both jerseys.
DP: When you startgetting phone calls during draft week, you know what it's for, right?
RL: Definitely.But we had our golf conference championships, and I was also in Phoenixrecruiting. So I haven't really had much time [to talk].
DP: What'stougher: to be a professional quarterback or golfer?
RL: They say thatthe toughest thing to do is to be a professional quarterback, and I can attestto that in some sense. But when I watch people like Tiger, Trevor Immelman atthe Masters, it's a pretty awesome sight.
DP: Ifcommissioner Roger Goodell asked you to speak at the NFL Rookie Symposium,would you?
RL: I'd love to dothat.
DP: What would yousay?
RL: From Decemberuntil July, have no one even know you exist. Be in the weight room, be watchingfilm, and not out at functions, at anything. People want you to go dostuff—you're a superstar. Just don't. I definitely wasn't prepared for that. Ifthey can learn anything from what ailed me, that's great.
Leaf: What if...?
DOESN'T IT seemlike we've seen an epidemic of flopping in the first round of the NBA playoffs?Usually if you want to see this many men reeling backward at the merest touch,you need to watch professional wrestling. I can just see Raja Bell at home inthe kitchen going to the floor when his wife brushes past him, purely out ofhabit. I'm tired of this. Flopping isn't "smart basketball." It's lazydefense, and I hate to see it rewarded.
Funny thing is,some of the most talented players are among the best at flopping. If there werea Floppers Hall of Fame (all plaques displayed at baseboard level, so you haveto get down on the floor to read them), I'd nominate these five forinduction:
The De Niro of falling down.
2. Vlade Divac
Did he learn to flop watching soccer?
(below) His acting was much better on court than in his flop movie DoubleTeam.
Must be part of the Duke curriculum.
(above) What is Spanish for flop?
He's against it.David Stern said on the radio show that he wants to come down hard on the worstoffenders: "I would love to review tape and go back and, if you couldreally be satisfied [that someone flopped], fine and even possibly suspendthem." Stern, who brought the idea to the competition committee last yearonly to see it fail, says, "I think it should be looked at again thisyear." Please, Commissioner, follow through on this. Floppers are penalizedin soccer and hockey. Make it the same in the NBA.
Head Scratcher ofthe Week
THIS SEASON marksthe 50th anniversary of the 1958 Colts-Giants title game, probably the mostimportant game in NFL history. It's also the last season for Yankee Stadium,where the game was played. My question: How in the world did the NFL not find away to commemorate both milestones this year with a Colts-Giants game at YankeeStadium? Even if division-versus-division scheduling "rules" wouldn'tpermit, the teams could still play an August exhibition during a Yanks roadtrip. Somebody missed the boat.
THE FINE PRINT:Dan Marino gave the commencement address on Sunday at Pitt. But he wasdisappointed that five other QBs were picked to speak ahead of him.
Go toDANPATRICK.COM for more from Ryan Leaf and other recent interviews, and hearlive audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m. to noon ET, Mon.-Fri.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (GINÓBILI)
TIM ZIELENBACH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (RODMAN)
JOHN IACONO (LEAF AND JERSEY); PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SI IMAGING
HENRY BARGAS/AMARILLO GLOBE-NEWS/AP (LEAF)
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER