August 20, 2002
SAN DIEGO -- It's Drew Brees' turn to try to snap some life into the Chargers.
Brees, the first pick of the second round in the 2001 draft who has played half of one regular-season game, beat out 39-year-old incumbent Doug Flutie for the starting quarterback job on Monday.
The former Purdue standout becomes the fourth opening-day starter in as many seasons for San Diego, which has lost 26 of its past 32 games and has not reached the playoffs since 1995.
"I feel that being 23 years old with only one year in this league, I'm only going to get better," Brees said. "With each snap, I feel like I'm going to get better. I expect nothing less of myself."
That apparently was what coach Marty Schottenheimer's decision came down to.
"Now, that's not to say that every snap is going to be a good snap, but he's going to get better with every snap that he plays," Schottenheimer said. "I felt that right now this was the opportunity for Drew to go out and grow."
As of Sunday, Schottenheimer said the battle was even and he was considering different criteria to chose a starter. He made up his mind by the time he met that evening with Brees and Flutie, neither of whom has thrown a touchdown in two preseason games.
Flutie was diplomatic, as he has been since Schottenheimer put the job up for grabs when he was hired on Jan. 29.
"Drew's the guy. I support that 100 percent," said Flutie, who wasn't as gracious when he and Rob Johnson feuded for three years in the same situation in Buffalo. "I think the world of Drew. I have full confidence in him to get the job done. If the situation ever calls for it, I'll be ready."
49ERS 12, BRONCOS 7: Terrell Owens had seven catches for 123 yards as San Francisco won on the night Denver's fans said goodbye to running back Terrell Davis.
San Francisco held Denver to 242 total yards to win for the first time in three preseason games. The 49ers scored on four field goals, three by Jose Cortez.
Denver moved 80 yards for a touchdown on its second drive, but crossed the 50-yard line four times the rest of the way.
Davis, a fan favorite who holds or shares 56 team records, walked out of the tunnel at Invesco Field at Mile High for the final time to raucous cheers from a near-capacity crowd of 69,343.
"There are so many things going through my head," said the 29-year-old Davis, who will almost certainly end his career after seven seasons. "My emotions went from sad to excited to sad again. It is what I expected. Denver is my home, and it was good to show the fans what it meant for me to be here."
Davis, who will be placed on injured reserve today because of chronically injured knees, waved to the fans and gave a Mile High Salute, which he made famous during the Broncos' Super Bowl-winning seasons in 1997 and 1998.
He was mobbed by teammates as he took the field and shared a long embrace with tight end Shannon Sharpe as a video tribute played on the scoreboard.
"I have mixed feelings," Davis said. "It's tough. My mind tells me one thing, my knees say something else.
"When I put the uniform on before the game, it was almost like I was getting ready to go play. I had to remind myself that I wasn't going to play. It was a little difficult."
Davis refused to close the door completely on a return to football, but said it likely would take a medical miracle.
"Unless something changes drastically in the next year or so, I don't think that's possible.
"I know I still have a lot of football in me. But I know that my body is not going to allow me to perform at the level I want to play.'
Rookie Clinton Portis showed signs that he may be ready to take over for Davis. The Broncos' second-round draft pick had 45 yards on Denver's first scoring drive and capped it with a 1-yard dive over the right side. He had eight carries and caught a 5-yard pass during the 12-play drive. Portis finished with 43 yards on 11 carries after getting 57 yards against Chicago last week.
RAMS-PATRIOTS TRADE: St. Louis acquired veteran tackle Grant Williams from New England for an undisclosed draft choice. Williams, a 6-foot-7, 320-pounder who has started 35 games in six NFL seasons, has played left and right tackle.
CFL: Montreal suspended the league's leading rusher, Lawrence Phillips, after he left the team Sunday morning and skipped practice without explanation. Phillips' only contact with the club came Monday morning, when he complained of knee pain in a brief phone call to an Alouettes trainer.