Colts president Bill Polian, who put his butt on the line when he drafted Manning over Leaf, was the last person to leave his club's locker room. "When you see an effort like that go unrewarded," Polian said, "it breaks your heart."
It shouldn't. Manning looks like the real deal, a franchise leader for years to come, and that's the hardest thing to come by.
Kubiak Could Be Back in Denver
Approaching an off-season in which as many as 10 of the league's 31 teams could be shopping for a coach, the market is shaping up as a strange one. The Packers' Mike Holmgren will likely sit atop the most-wanted list; one Green Bay insider says there's a 95% chance Holmgren will leave for a general manager or coach-G.M. job. Then there's former 49ers coach George Seifert, who is expected to get back into coaching after a milquetoast performance this year as a CBS studio analyst. Before the season Tyrone Willingham of Stanford, Gary Barnett of Northwestern and Nick Saban of Michigan State were among the college names most often mentioned as possibly moving to the pros, but none had better than .500 years.
Among NFL assistant coaches, Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is the leader of the pack. He has a low-key personality, but he's sure to get an endorsement from Denver coach Mike Shanahan, who says Kubiak is as prepared to be a head coach as any assistant he has had. However, there's no guarantee Kubiak would accept a head position. Shanahan failed in one-plus seasons as coach of the Raiders in the late '80s, and, as his disciple, Kubiak knows how hopeless the wrong situation—in Philadelphia, for example—can be. Plus, he'd rather stay put than move to a top job someplace where his wife and three sons wouldn't be happy. "I make decisions about where I'll work and where I'll live based on what my family wants," Kubiak says.
Niners Front Office Goes Soft
An indication of how passive the 49ers' front office has become occurred when the team didn't get a draft pick as compensation for allowing vice president Dwight Clark to bolt before the end of the season and become the Browns' VP and director of football operations. When Carmen Policy was club president—the position he now holds in Cleveland—the San Francisco brass took a harder stance....
Tyrone Davis is emerging as a bigger threat at tight end than fellow Packer Mark Chmura. In his last three games Davis has caught seven passes for 141 yards and four scores....
Sign of the times in St Louis: Long snapper Jeff Robinson is tied for the club lead in touchdown catches, with one, and Greg Hill, who hasn't played since breaking his right leg in Week 3, leads the team with 240 rushing yards....
Add this to the legend of John Elway: He took 10 painkilling injections before playing with torn rib cartilage on Nov. 22 against the Raiders.