Friday, February 02, 2007

Turning Over an Old Leaf

Quarterback Peyton Manning was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. The No. 2 pick was quarterback Ryan Leaf.

Leaf turned out to be one of the biggest busts in NFL Draft history. He was a terrible quarterback with the San Diego Chargers, and an even worse teammate. He was out of the league pretty quick.

Where is Ryan Leaf now? You're not going to believe it: He's the new men's golf coach at West Texas A&M University.

Leaf spent last season as quarterbacks coach for the Buffaloes' football team, his first. But when the school - located in Canyon, just outside Amarillo - needed a new head golf coach, the athletic director turned over an old Leaf.

I would have guessed that Leaf was a club-thrower on the course, as big a jerk on the links as he was off them. But apparently Leaf has mellowed and, more importantly, matured since 1998.

West Texas A&M athletic director Michael McBroom explained his choice in a posting on the school Web site:

“I asked Ryan to take on this additional responsibility based on his performance with WT thus far in his career.

“He has a great passion for working with student-athletes and motivating them to achieve their full potential. He is a great competitor with a tremendous work ethic. He embodies many of the qualities we look for in coaches.

“Coach Leaf understands the concept of team golf and, more importantly, understands how to build a team mind-set and to get a group of young men to work toward a common goal.”

Understands the concept of team golf? Well, that's the first team concept Ryan Leaf has understood.

But I'll take the AD's word for it. If he says Leaf is all grown up, then let's assume it to be true.

How good a golfer is Leaf? I can't find any accounts of his golf game. Except that USA Today reported he would not be working with the golfers on their swings, but rather would concentrate on team unity, hard work, and motivations. All those things Leaf show himself to be completely devoid of in the NFL.

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