September 25, 1998
By Bernie Wilson
AP SPORTS WRITER
Is the pressure starting to get to rookie Ryan Leaf?
On Sunday, Leaf set a San Diego Chargers' record for passing futility, completing just one of 15 passes for four yards in a 23-7 loss at Kansas City. He fumbled three times and was intercepted twice.
``I know there are going to be better days. I don't think it can get any worse than that,'' Leaf said Monday afternoon.
Leaf knocked Hall of Famer Dan Fouts out of the record books, but not in a way he'll want to remember. In 1975, a few years before Air Coryell took off, Fouts completed just three passes against Oakland. It was his third pro season.
On Sunday, it was Err Leaf.
While meeting with reporters on Monday, the quarterback continually tried to steer talk away from his horrendous afternoon.
When the session was over, he launched into an obscenity-laced tirade at a reporter.
Leaf was upset about a note in Monday morning's newspaper in which it was detailed that the quarterback directed obscenities toward a cameraman who was shooting postgame interviews for ``Chargers Report,'' one of the team's weekly TV shows.
With Leaf raising his voice and turning red in the face, he was intercepted again - this time by linebacker Junior Seau and team spokesman Bill Johnston, who hustled Leaf out of the room. A TV cameraman caught a portion of the incident on tape.
Leaf, a broadcasting major at Washington State, called the reporter about an hour later to apologize and then later issued a statement in which he again apologized.
The Chargers also issued a statement.
``We take pride in our relationship with the media and the fans,'' it said. ``We do not condone and will not tolerate behavior that reflects poorly on this organization. Football is an emotion-filled business. Ryan is a fiery and intense competitor, and in this instance his emotions got the better of him.''
So why did Leaf have such a miserable game Sunday? Almost every incompletion was overthrown, except for the interceptions, which were underthrown. Chargers receivers dropped two passes.
``It's hard to know,'' coach Kevin Gilbride said. ``You're speculating no matter what. But I think it's the inexperience, dealing with the weather, again wanting so badly to do well for his teammates and for the city, and maybe putting undue pressure on himself.
``That, coupled with the ability level of the Chiefs, sometimes can be too much. They're enough of a problem without adding to it.''
Leaf wasn't shedding any light on his problems.
``We're not talking about it anymore,'' Leaf said. ``We're just talking about the Giants, and that's it. It's something else to dwell on, if you keep talking about, which you seem to want to do.''
San Diego (2-1) plays host to the New York Giants (1-2) on Sunday.
The Chargers have said since the day Leaf was named the starter that there would be good days and bad ones. When Leaf was asked if Sunday's performance was part of being a rookie, he answered:
``Like I said, I really don't want to talk about what happened anymore. There's no reference to what's going to happen in the future. It's not a measure of a man on what happens, it's how you handle it.''
Leaf doesn't anticipate having a problem rebounding.
``Not at all. I've had bad games before,'' he said. ``Nothing this drastic, but I bounced back.''