Add Kramer to list of QBs who are changing places

On The NFL

July 25, 1999|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Erik Kramer is the latest player to take a spin on the NFL Quarterback Merry-Go-Round.

When he was suddenly cut by the Chicago Bears and signed with the San Diego Chargers last week, he became the 13th quarterback who started on Opening Day last year to change teams this year.

The other 12 are Gus Frerotte, Tony Banks, Rodney Peete, Jeff George, Danny Kanell, Glenn Foley, Brad Johnson, Scott Mitchell, Neil O'Donnell, Kerry Collins, Warren Moon and Jim Harbaugh.

Of that group, only Johnson, Mitchell and Harbaugh are listed as starters on their new teams.

Two others who started on opening day last year, Rob Johnson and Ryan Leaf, have been demoted, but stayed with their teams and John Elway retired.

That leaves 14 quarterbacks who started on Opening Day last year and are still listed as the team's starters.

The select group features Jake Plummer, Chris Chandler, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Mark Brunell, Elvis Grbac, Dan Marino, Drew Bledsoe, Billy Joe Hobert, Kordell Stewart, Trent Dilfer, Steve Young and Steve McNair.

The new Cleveland Browns plan to start Ty Detmer with rookie Tim Couch waiting in the wings.

The turnover illustrates that only about half the teams in the league are set at the quarterback position. The rest are recycling veterans and hoping they hit it big the way the Minnesota Vikings did with Randall Cunningham and the New York Jets did with Vinny Testaverde last year.

Harbaugh didn't seem to have much of an arm left with the Ravens last year, but San Diego general manager Bobby Beathard is touting his leadership ability.

In St. Louis, player personnel director Charley Armey is lauding Trent Green over Banks, who was traded to the Ravens.

"The big difference between Trent and the other guy is that this guy won't lose a game for you," Armey said.

Fallen QBs

Two quarterbacks -- one youngster (Leaf) and one veteran (O'Donnell) -- took particularly hard falls this year.

Leaf had fallen to third string in San Diego behind Harbaugh and Kramer even before the Chargers learned he was going to have to undergo shoulder surgery, which some say could finish his season.

Leaf flopped on the field and has had a string of problems off it. The latest incident came when a room he occupied over the Fourth of July at a resort in Montana suffered minor damage. The manager said he got a sincere apology and the unspecific damage was minor and appeared to be accidental.

Two weeks later, Leaf proposed to a former Charger Girl, Niki Lucci, at an Idaho hotel. He told a reporter that the woman "is making me a better person."

Meanwhile, O'Donnell left Pittsburgh after taking the team to the Super Bowl in January of 1996 for a five-year $25 million deal with the New York Jets.

He was supposed to make $9 million in the final two years of that deal. Instead, he's on his third team in what would have been the fourth year of that deal and signed for only $1.1 million with Tennessee last week as a backup to McNair.

Modell's career lauded

It was not printed in the edition circulated in Baltimore last Sunday, but a New York Times columnist wrote that it's a "travesty" that Ravens owner Art Modell is not being considered for the Hall of Fame because he moved the Browns.

"It was very flattering and I was very appreciative," Modell said of the article that said the move shouldn't overshadow the rest of his career.

Modell said in the article that he never plans to return to Cleveland.

But it could be that after the Browns return to the field for a few years, the passions will cool.

Modell said, "Time is a good healer."

For now, though, Modell regrets he'll miss Ozzie Newsome's induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in two weeks. The passions haven't cooled enough yet for him to make the trip.

Waiting for Barry

As training camps open, the big question is whether Barry Sanders will show up in Detroit this week.

He has had no contact with the Lions in the off-season, which isn't unusual for him. What is unusual is that his father sounded off several times in the off-season and said Sanders is unhappy about the state of the team.

Since Sanders hasn't said he won't show up, the Lions assume he will. Chuck Schmidt, the team's chief operating officer, said, "One thing you can consistently say about Barry is that he's mysterious and he likes it that way. He's mysterious to everybody, teammates, family and friends. You have to come to understand it. We have every reason to expect him to be here."

Redskins' demise

The demise of the Washington Redskins is not going to bother Baltimore fans, but it's not a good development for the league to see what was once one of the league's premier franchises in such disarray.

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